Climate Change Hits the Philippines. We Will Recover.

We will.

The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable when we talk about Climate Change. Why? It is an archipelago — with a long coastline of 32,400 kilometers from which 70% of the country’s 1,500 municipalities derive income.

The past few weeks seemed like a teaser on what’s gonna come if we don’t straighten our acts now. I remember having posted that I attended a convention where Rep. Acosta said that parts of the Philippines will be literally under water in about 50 years. With Ondoy and Pepeng, did everything come sooner than our local Climate Change experts predicted? I hope not. Please, not.

This is not the first though. Globally, Tokyo had a snowless winter in 2007 — a first in 131 years; in New York and New Hampshire, freezing temperature knocked out electricity to nearly 70,000 customers — then, there was a heatwave in New York too, early February 2007.

In Manila, the climate has gone erratic. In 2004, Typhoon Winnie caused landslides and flash floods in Quezon, and reports say that the death toll stood at 412, with 177 people missing. In February 2006, an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 people died after the village of Guinsaugon, Leyte was buried by mudflow. This mudslide happened after heavy rains dumped 459.2 millimeters of rain in only 3 days.

In September 2006, super typhoon Milenyo, then the strongest typhoon to hit Metro Manila in seven years, cut across Luzon, causing a Luzon-wide blackout (the Philippines, for those not in the know, is divided into 3 islands, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, with Luzon being the central business district). When Super Typhoon Reming hit Bicol, thousands of houses got burried under volcanic debris (Mt. Mayon is in Bicol), killing thousands of people and animals.

… which brings us to today. Tropical Storm Ondoy’s (international name is Ketsana) death toll is pegged at 246, with hundreds still missing. Millions of Filipinos got affected, thousands of houses got damaged. Total cost of damage is reported to be over two billion pesos, and this is A LOT for our country.

Worse, the Filipinos havent yet recovered from the destruction caused by Ondoy when Super Typhoon Pepeng hit Northern Luzon. Death toll is at 269 (as reported in Manila Bulletin). As of writing, a lot of houses up North are still under water, meaning bodies could be there too. Landslides happened in Baguio, roads are at first, not passable, with only choppers to provide for their rescue needs.

But… and no matter what…

… the Philippines will recover. We will continue to be strong, to remain steadfast.

For this, we would like to thank the rest of the world for helping us go through this — to the US Pacific Command who helped save hundreds of Filipinos, who provided relief and delivered medical supplies and food to a lot of us, to the members of the Red Cross and the UN World Health Organization. To the United Nations, the US government, the Australian government, China, Germany, Japan, to all the kindhearted, beautiful people of all the other countries I have not mentioned here.

Thank you, heroes, for helping us as we recover.


** This post is part of Blog Action Day 2009, where bloggers all over the world unite to inform the world of Climate Change.

Source: Climate Change Secretariat – DENR, Manila Bulletin, US Pacific Command

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