Filipino kids mobilize for climate justice

As the U.N. climate change convention came to an end in Paris, some 200 children rallied for Mother Earth in the Philippines.

Representing 13 local United Methodist churches in the Metropolitan district, children at the Dec. 12 Christmas rally took up the challenge of learning about what is needed to decrease the earth’s temperature. The children, aged 5 to 12, also made pledges for action.

By watching four simple videos on climate change and global warming, the children learned about the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment, which helped them understand why world leaders in Paris approved a climate agreement.

Some of the kids are from towns where several communities were devastated by typhoon Koppu, known as Lando in the Philippines. More than 50 deaths have been attributed to that Category 4 storm, which came ashore Oct. 18 on the northern island of Luzon and crawled across the province of Nueva Ecija.

Nueva Ecija was severely damaged, especially the crops that were ready for harvest. The Philippine Star reported about U.S. $149 million in agricultural damage.

Some 300 United Methodists in the Philippines signed a commitment to address climate issues and launched a “Climate Justice Now!” movement after participating in a March forum at Wesleyan University-Philippines.

Pledge of action in a leaf

The kids worked in teams to come up with their pledges of action, signing their names on a leaf visual.  The leaf visuals were later posted in their Sunday School rooms and church bulletin boards to remind them of their commitment. 

"We promise to plant more trees; we promise to use bikes whenever we go to a nearby place; we pledge to segregate trash; we pledge to conserve water; we promise not to use air conditioning if it is not necessary," wrote Quis Harris and Lovely Dainelle.

"We will help in lowering down the high fever of mother earth by planting more trees and water them every day" said Althea, Elyssa and Leona.

"We will conserve water and electricity, and recycle plastic containers and papers," pledged Jaymark, Danica, and Aedrian.

Other pledges include reducing carbon emissions, avoiding burning trash, walking, recycling, re-using, reminding older people to avoid smoking and learning disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

Alphalyn Mendoza, a United Methodist deaconess reported that one mother, Cristy de Guzman, who accompanied her son to the rally, wondered about the promises kids would write on each big leaf. "I am grateful my son is here, it is just right that my son is here, he really has to learn about the climate change. Informed decisions matter a lot," she said. 

The Rev. Gilbert Pascua, the Metropolitan district superintendent, blessed the march and offered prayer for the pledges and commitments written on the leaf visuals.

Response to the call

The rally was also in solidarity to the disaster preparedness and risk reduction learning being conducted by a United Methodist layperson who is working with a team to help empower lives in resilient nations as supported by the United Nations Development Program.  

Two years after the super typhoon Haiyan made its first landfall in Guian, Leyte, the town is undergoing an intensive disaster risk reduction management training.  Residents are being trained by using a guide for communities to cope with, withstand, prevent, prepare for, mitigate and recover from disasters.

Rommuel Flores, a member of both the Bulacan district and conference church and society committee, said the communities are serious about disaster preparedness.

"We are providing resilience and recovery to typhoon Haiyan - affected communities in Visayas," he said, adding that intensive education and training are powerful ways of really helping people recover. The deadly Category 5 Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 7,000 in 2013.

Flores thanked the organizers of the kids’ rally via a social network.

"Thank you for doing this,” he wrote. “We will never get tired of educating both the young and old, as Naderev Sano stated ' forgive us, the present generation for failing to protect and prepare your home — for just allowing it to happen that you will suffer the impact of the planetary crisis.’"

Mangiduyos is a correspondent for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5470.

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