Filipino typhoon victims still suffer a year later: ask Canadians to help reduce climate change

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Makabiquil says she clutched her newborn in her arms, prioritizing her youngest. But her daughter drowned together with Winefreda Ponce’s son and daughter, who have never been found. 

“They (my in-laws) put my daughter in the fridge, but then it started sinking. So they took her out and she hung on to a piece of plywood. 

When I looked over, she was screaming, ‘Mama,Mama,’ but I couldn’t go over to her because I didn’t want to let go of my baby,” Makabiquil says, weeping. 

Makabiquil’s tone changes when she describes how they haven’t seen a cent from the government.

“According to news on TV, in Manila, and the words of the president, we already received so much help. So where is it? The government is probably pocketing it. They should just admit they’re pocketing it, because we haven’t seen anything.”

She explains how they’ve gotten by with the help of a Taiwan-based NGO, the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation, which paid them for picking up debris after the typhoon.

Esperas also praised the organization for providing tricycles to men to earn a living. 

Showing the pain to the pope 

These three stories can take an emotional toll on the listener. That’s exactly how Sean Devlin, a Filipino-Canadian environmentalist looks when I meet with him – emotionally exhausted.

Devlin is in Tacloban to help a Philippine “movement-building” organization, People’s Surge, produce videos of Haiyan victims in the wake of the first year anniversary of the typhoon. 

Protestors part of the People's Surge burn an effigy of President Ninoy Aquino during the first year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, on Nov. 8, 2014.

He produced a video for the Pope’s arrival to shed light on what he has seen in Leyte, where his mother is originally from.

Devlin interviewed the father of a young man who was allegedly shot because he refused to provide intelligence to the military after helping many youth recover from the typhoon. Another poignant person in the video is a woman whose niece also resorted to prostitution. The video calls on Pope Francis to hold the Philippine government accountable for failing these people. 

A local Filipina environmentalist, part of a global group called 350.org, calls Canadians to help reduce climate change when she learns where I am from.

Zephanie Repollo says 350.org has managed to convince three churches in Canada to divest their money from banks that are invested in or owned by the fossil fuel industry. It's an effort "to keep 80 per cent of coal on the ground," she says. Her Canadian cohorts are targeting divestment in the Keystone XL Pipeline.

"Big countries like Canada and the U.S., these are top polluters in terms of GHG (greehouse gas) emissions. Since we are just sharing one clean atmosphere, the impacts are felt in the Philippines. Devastation and damages caused by super-typhoon Haiyan can be stopped if we stop the fossil fuel industry and of course change the system that's allowing this fossil fuel industry to keep burning," Repollo says.

The call for change is an urgent one felt strongly by Filipinos who have been affected by the typhoons.

It’s in the same vein that Oñate, Diaz, Ponce and Makabiquil shared their stories.

In the words of Ana, “I just want people to understand why I do this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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