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July 14, 2016

Fasting and saving

“As we atone for our sins during Holy Week, it may also be relevant that we fast for Mother Earth and curb emissions.” Thus says Climate Institute Advisory Board chairman Heherson Alvarez. Indeed, he advises, “We should observe a different kind of penitence.’”
 
This means “a withdrawal from our wasteful consumption habits, and a cutback of a meal a day, among other things, will provide some relief to our beleaguered environment.”
 
Alvarez, also the founding chair of the twice honored Earthsavers Movement, a Unesco Dream Center with its socially integrated  performing  ensemble, the Unesco Artist for Peace,said it would also “drive home the point that the solution to the extreme consequences of climate change would be the disciplined use of energy like electricity and vehicle fuel, the reduction of water and food wastage, and the promotion of alternative clean energy complemented by effective communications and information to motivate collective participation in an action agenda of mitigation and adaptation.”
 
He said that the Filipinos’ selfless penitence will show that addressing climate change, a man-made disaster, will require our  unified determined efforts to prevent breaching the irreversible threshold of two degrees centigrade. The vulnerable and small island states, with the support of an interfaith movement seek a 1.5 degree caution for survival.
 
According to Alvarez, Earthsavers and its partners have been “making the appeal every year to remind the public of its grave responsibilities of protecting our ailing Mother Earth and helping mitigate carbon emissions.”
 
“This kind of penitence is more significant this year,” he said, citing the latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned that “soaring carbon emissions will amplify the risks of conflict, hunger, floods and other natural disasters, as well as ecological refugees. The impact would increase with every additional degree of temperature rise.”
 
“The IPCC report,” he said, underscores that “things are worse than what we had predicted. High levels of warming will result in magnified drought risks, which will add to water stress and will in turn have serious consequences for health and agriculture, including staples such as rice, wheat and corn.”
 
“If the world does not cut pollution of heat-trapping gases, the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral out of control,” the report added.
 
The Climate Reality program held  recently at the Sofitel Hotel  by former US Vice President Al Gore, according to Alvarez, calls for the strengthening of  the climate justice movement of  “No to  Coal and Yes  to alternative energy.”
 
I have not met House deputy minority leader and LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty in person.  I’m impressed by his proposal to build rainwater harvesting systems to provide safe drinking water for people and irrigation of farms.
 
“To fight prolonged fresh water shortages during dry spells, communities would do well to put up simple rainwater collectors,” he says. As things are, one-fourth of the country is now reeling from drought.
 
Ty urges governments and community organizations to tap the P2-billion People’s Survival Fund (PSF) and invest in the installation of practical rainwater harvesting systems in their areas.
 
A  member of the House science and technology committee, Ty says communities could adopt as a model Bhagwati Agrawal’s celebrated “River from the Sky” – a simple yet sustainable rainwater harvesting system that now provides safe drinking water to more than 10,000 people in Rajasthan, India.
 
The scheme is a network of rooftops, gutters, pipes and underground reservoirs that collect and store the monsoon rains, which fall from July to September. It now provides clean water to six villages all year long in one of the driest areas of India.
 
Ty said rainwater stockpiles can also supply farmers extra water for irrigation throughout arid conditions.
 
In its March drought/dry spell outlook, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has warned that 24 percent of the country, or 19 provinces, are likely to suffer drought – defined as “three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall condition, or greater than 60-percent reduction from average rainfall.”
 
“Now more than ever, we should all work harder to give greater meaning to the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Law of 1989, or Republic Act 6715,” Ty said.
 
Ty previously filed a House resolution calling for an inquiry into the “unusually sluggish execution” of the 27-year-old law that requires the Department of Public Works and Highways to construct rainwater collectors in all barangays countrywide.
 
Pagasa said the 19 provinces facing drought are Palawan, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
 
The weather bureau said another 13 provinces are likely to endure a dry spell, defined as “three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, or 21 to 60 percent reduction from average rainfall.”
 
The 13 provinces are Benguet, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, Bohol, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
 
The PSF is a special annual fund in the National Treasury that finances climate change adaptation and natural disaster resilience strategies.
 
A good number of my female friends are voting for vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo not simply because she is a woman, but because she embodies the qualities of a good leader. She’s honest, hard-working, intelligent, purposive, a staunch believer in democratic and transparent governance, and an absolute enemy of dictatorial rule.
 
Another woman worth voting to public office in the May elections is LaRainne Abad Sarmiento. Her accomplishments in local government and gender fair involvements indicate no-nonsense running of the office of mayor of San Narciso, a fourth-class municipality of Zambales. Vying for the same position are four male aspirants, including the incumbent mayor.
 
LaRainne was born in barangay San Pascual, and was the 1975 high school class valedictorian at Zambales Academy in San Narciso. She earned her bachelor of arts in Philippine studies, her master of arts in anthropology and her Ph.D. in public administration at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
 
After decades of working and living in Quezon City, but constantly visiting San Narciso where she runs a family farm, LaRainne decided it’s time to “go home” and work for ands with her kababayans. Her campaign platform shows support for farmers and fisherfolk; organic agriculture; developing a “One-Town-One-Product” program; mobilizing support for scholarships for technological/vocational trainings and job fairs; an improved public market;  24/7 health care for constituents, and regular disaster risk reduction management training for every barangay.
 
Her environment projects include  backyard gardening competitions for youth, senior citizens and government servants, tree seedling nursery development, forming a Bantay Dagat team to secure and protect the town’s coral reef; regular environment education on eco-diversity, climate change and wildlife conservation. She has a program for the protection of pawikans (turtles).
 
While working in Quezon City, she was a recipient of the  2005 Quezon City Ulirang Ina Award and  the Excellence in Leadership Award (given by City Mayor Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr.). She was awarded first prize for the lyrics of the song, “Pangarap ng Kababaihan in the 2007 National Commission on Filipino women national song writing contest on women’s rights.
 
LaRainne is married to former Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento. They have three children and two grandchildren.
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