Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Two rivers, two activists by Chuck Baclagon

Two rivers, two activists

The theme for this year’s World Water Day, celebrated last week, is “Clean water for a healthy world.” It’s a theme that nicely slots into one of Greenpeace’s most important campaigns in the region: protecting our water.

Here in Thailand our water campaign is focused on the Chao Phraya River which runs through the country’s central plains, through Bangkok, and several other towns before it reaches the gulf of Thailand. But as much beloved as the Chao Phraya is to Thais is the Mekong which runs through five countries and defines the border north and northeast Thailand. Greenpeace visited the Mekong recently to look at drought-affected areas in the vicinity.

The Chao Phraya and the Mekong are perhaps Thailand’s two most iconic rivers. This blog is about two people, both activists, who are working to protect these two rivers.
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People-Elephant-Forest by Chuck Baclagon

_MG_4105-websizeThis is a photo of a People-Elephant-Forest talk which the TERF (Thai Elephant Research and Conservation Fund) usually conduct.  Their audience varies and this one that we conducted last Tuesday is the talk for school children.

TERF conducts these conservation awareness talks mainly in support of their thrust to reduce Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) elephants (particularly wild elephants) are sometimes known to wander out of the forest (because the forests are getting smaller, or the herds are getting too big for the forest to sustain them, that they usually encounter situations with communities, like trampling on cornfields and eating the crops.  This becomes a source of conflict, so that some people regard elephants as pests and sometimes even kill them.
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Beautiful Moment #2 by Chuck Baclagon

The moment we saw this everyone called it the “perfect photo.” It was taken just at the right time when the sun had newly risen. The elephants went for a dip before they set off for the second leg of the Chang[e] Caravan.

The water reminded me that later on on this journey we‘ll be visiting climate impacted areas. in a watershed area. one of climate change‘s greatest impacts is on water availability.  we‘re not walking for elephants in this caravan, we‘re walking for all those whose future depends on stabilizing the climate.

Lea Guerrero

Beautiful Moment by Chuck Baclagon

Elephants and their mahouts take Thai Buddhist monks to the venue for the send of blessing for the Greenpeace Chang(e) Caravan.

September 12, 2009

Yes, after the  successful launch yesterday- with full work integration across all departments and 3 countries, today we started our journey early in the morning with a Buddhism traditional blessing ceremony. We all, Greenpeace team, together with other guests and community people gathered in front of the research center (launching place) to offer food to the monks while they were sitting on the 5 elephants – who are now walking with the caravan. This will surely bring us good luck throughout the journey. Beautiful moment- indeed.

Then we started walking.  Besides the Thai team, we also have the campaign team from the Philippines and Indonesia walk together – led by Shai and Tara. Our super Shai and his son Shane were ones of the few persons who could walk non-stop throughout the whole 10 km route today, despite a sunny day – wow.  Along the way, we stopped at the energy efficiency resort- they happily welcomed us and presented their energy efficiency design buildings which are powered by wind turbine and solar cells, which exemplify a good practice for climate change mitigation. They also gave us some donations for the Chang(e) Caravan.  Walked a few more kilometres, then we reached the place where we would stay overnight.

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What do ancient elephant poachers and Greenpeace have in common? by Chuck Baclagon
A mahout elder stands before an elephant while waiting to perform a Pa-Kam ritual, a traditional ceremony to call on mahout ancestors for for good luck and safety before an elephant journey.

A mahout elder stands before an elephant while waiting to perform a Pa-Kam ritual, a traditional ceremony to call on mahout ancestors for for good luck and safety before an elephant journey.

September 12, 2009

We launched the Chang(e) Caravan last Saturday with a traditional Thai mahout ceremony called the Pak-Am. Now, if you knew what the Pak-Am was originally, you’d wonder why on earth it would be part of a Greenpeace project launch!

The ritual’s origins can be traced to a centuries old Khmer (now Cambodia) practice –a mahout prays for safety before he goes into the jungle to catch elephants.  In other words, it’s a ritual that originated with elephant poaching.  Yes–you read that right –elephant poaching.

Interesting, eh?  But these days, now that elephant poaching is (thankfully) illegal, the Pak-Am has taken on a milder forms.

One is as a rite of passage for mahouts—to be a respected mahout one has to pass the Pak-Am.  (In the past, this meant that the mahout had to have caught 11 to 16 elephants.)

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Um by Chuck Baclagon


After walking 3 days under the scorching sun for the Chang(e) Caravan, I am welcoming the thunder storm that is raging while we seek shelter under the roof of a Buddhist temple at Nakhonratchasima Province in Thailand.

For 15 days, I am part of a team led by Greenpeace that is traveling 250 kilometers through Thailand with 5 majestic Asian elephants from Khao Yai National Park, a world heritage site, to Bangkok, in time for the preparation meeting of the United Nations climate change summit that begins in the end of the month.

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100 days! 100 Reasons! One Solution – Forests for Climate by Chuck Baclagon
August 28, 2009, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Stop climate change, Thailand | Tags: , , , , ,

To mark the launch of tcktcktck campaign, 100 days ahead of the crucial climate meeting in Copenhagen, Greenpeace called upon world leaders , especially President Obama to show courage and determination and ensure that there words are translated into action to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

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Protest at the ASEAN Summit venue by Chuck Baclagon
Tara delivers our message to the Thail delegate: Nuclear power is bad for Southeast Asias future!

Tara delivers our message to the Thail delegate: "Nuclear power is bad for Southeast Asia's future!"

Today I joined my counterparts, Isa and Hikmat, the media officers of the Thailand and Indonesia offices of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, at a Greenpeace activity at the ASEAN Summit in Pattaya, Thailand. Neung, was the media officer, while Hikmat and I, as well as some others, were there to support the team. (Earlier we had attended a nuclear campaign skillshare led by Jan and Aslihan from Greenpeace International. They shared their experiences about the ongoing campaign in various countries in Europe.)

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The answer my friend is blowing in the wind by Chuck Baclagon
July 7, 2008, 6:05 am
Filed under: Stop climate change | Tags: , , , ,

Although this song reminds me of dreamy hippies, here in Southern Thailand it is reality.

The Rainbow Warrior has arrived in Thailand and was greeted by traditional Thai dancers. My heart beat faster when the ship came into port. I still think it is such an amazing sight and a symbol of hope. Slowly it made its way into the berth (actually slowly because we figured out when low tide came, that the berth is not deep enough and the Rainbow Warrior is sitting in the mud, rather than floating.)

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Quit Coal – Save the Climate by Chuck Baclagon

Hello. My name is Beau and I’m the campaigner on board the Rainbow Warrior for the Philippine leg of the Quit Coal, Save the Climate Tour. Our first day on the Rainbow Warrior began with the crew waking up really early to prepare to dock at the Legaspi port from anchorage in the Albay Gulf. For someone who does not know much about ships, it looked like a complex maneuver in order to squeeze in between two boats was needed because the port was quite small. But Captain Mike and his crew made it look so easy and we had landed in no time.

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