DSNP and the Coyote Creek Flood

We’re proud of and grateful for the handwork of our DSNP members Michelle Amores and Kim Nguyen who have been active in supporting victims of the Coyote Creek Flood. They have provided vital translation services, helped victims recover property from their affected homes, helped run a donation drive on March 12 for the affected families, and continue to work at the Seven Trees Community Center emergency shelter. THANK YOU for your service.

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Balitang America Video covering the Feb. 2017 DSNP Report Back

FIL-AM ORGANIZATION RAISES CONCERNS OF CLIMATE CHANGE, THREE YEARS AFTER SUPER TYPHOON HAIYAN

SAN JOSE, CA — It’s been three years since the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan impacted the Philippines.

Despite the international support and promises of rebuilding by the government, some Filipino-Americans traveled to the affected areas this past summer to see the efforts first-hand, and what else needs to be done in the area.

The Disaster Support Network for the Philippines sent Fil-Ams over to the eastern Visayas, who are reporting back to the Bay Area community about what they saw.

“We’re looking at the more rural communities, a lot of the farming communities, the fishing communities; they’re the ones that have been most affected,” says Julian Jaravata, from the Disaster Support Network for the Philippines. “They continue to struggle to maintain their livelihood because their crops — like the coconut trees — were devastated by the typhoon.”

“A couple of the fisher folk communities that I stayed at they still lived in temporary shelters, temporary housing, many of which were built by international organizations,” said Christian Ollano, from KBKN. “Meanwhile if you go inland, government is building some of these cement subsidized housing — but they are not completed even more than three years after [the typhoon].”

These young Fil-Ams self-funded their trip to the Philippines, while also raising $2800 to be given to the Leyte Center for Development.

“We were able to give a rice mill and a carabao to a community in Marabut, in Samar,” says Javarta. “That’s toward helping them with their livelihood, and establishing food security.”

The issue of climate change and how it applies to those in the US was stressed in the group presentation.

“We’re in the most polluting country in the world, so I think that when being informed why climate change is important to us here,” says Jaclyn Joanino. “Being able to advocate for lifestyle change amongst ourselves, but also for policies which do not expand the use for fossil fuels and true accountability, in terms of pollution — those are things we can do here.”

The Disaster Support Network for the Philippines says they are waiting to mobilize for the next typhoon.

They are currently preparing communities abroad with supplies in anticipation for the next calamity, while also educating them about the possible risks, and working with the government to put measures in place to protect them.

Building Communities for Disaster Resilience

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By DSNP member Julian Jaravata

In August 2016, two members of the Disaster Support Network for the Philippines (DSNP), myself and Jaki Joanino, participated in a week long program integrating with communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. This trip was hosted by the Leyte Center for Development (LCDe), one of the organizations that NAFCON supported during the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan through the Consortium for People’s Development. Based in the South San Francisco Bay Area of California, DSNP is the last standing formation of Taskforce Haiyan, an initiative that NAFCON helped to establish in response to the massive devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. We transitioned from being South Bay Taskforce Haiyan to DSNP in recognition of the impacted communities’ long-term path to recovery and our group’s commitment to providing support in this path.

art2To inform DSNP’s continuing work, we coordinated with LCDe to facilitate a program that would provide important context for addressing the persisting needs of those affected by Haiyan and subsequent disasters. LCDe commands important leadership in the Eastern Visayas region with respect to community-based disaster risk management (CBDM) work and we were fortunate to witness this work throughout our trip. LCDe prioritizes working with communities in far-flung areas reach and have higher incidences of poverty. These communities were dramatically impacted by Typhoon Haiyan and suffer damages that continue to this day. A majority relies on farming and fishing for their livelihood, but due to extreme weather events brought on by climate change, struggles to produce an income from these industries that can sustain their communities. When we visited farmers discussed how they noticed extreme weather patterns that affected the growing of food that they would be able to sell for income as well as feed to their families. At the time, they were experiencing a drought that lasted the duration of our stay. Moreover, coconut trees, which played an important role in the region’s economy, were decimated by Haiyan. It will take ten years for new trees to grow and reach the same level of production that farmers had seen before the storm. That is, given other disasters do not damage the ones that are currently growing. The Eastern Visayas region as a whole is now the poorest in the Philippines.

Following the CBDM model, LCDe strives to work with communities to build infrastructure which will better support themselves, emphasizing the need for communities to build people’s organizations that can manage the resources provided to them. As part of our itinerary, we had the opportunity to observe a two-day disaster risk reduction training facilitated by LCDe staff to community members in Barangay Rubas of Jaro, Leyte. During the training, participants identified potential hazards that their community was vulnerable to, including typhoons, floods, landslides, sickness, and even armed conflict, and assessed their possible impacts. The following day, based on the prior day’s discussion, community members evaluated their capacity to prepare themselves as well as respond should a disaster occur. Topics discussed ranged from possible evacuation routes to creating a calendar that could anticipate when disasters would happen. At the conclusion of the training, community members reported back on their discussions which would then form the backbone of a disaster risk reduction plan. As next steps, LCDe will work with the residents of Rubas to host a community drill and establish a Disaster Preparedness Committee. These steps will pave the way for the people of Rubas to build their leadership in a way that will bring them closer to how they hope their community to be in spite of disasters.

In light of the work DSNP hopes to further build, it was critical for us to see what it means to provide people-to-people support on the ground in areas that are vulnerable to disasters of an increasingly larger scale. Communities such as those we visited face the brunt of consequences brought on by environmental degradation and exploitation which is often compounded by government neglect and corruption rampant in the Philippines. LCDe’s work addresses this further marginalization of these communities and continues to build upon the support that many of us contributed when Haiyan initially hit. They work not only to be the first responders when disasters strike, but also increasing the capacity of communities themselves to be resilient in the face of what disasters and environmental injustice may bring.

 

Beyond Paradise:

Reflections on Climate Justice from my time in the Philippines
Christian Ollano, KBKN 2016 Participant, DSNP Member

In July, I had the opportunity travel to the Philippines with the Kapit Bisig Kabataan Network (KBKN), a national Filipino-American youth and student led relief network created in response to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan back in 2013. Travelling through Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, and Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao, I, alongside 18 other delegates, integrated with fisherfolk, peasant, and indigenous communities, soon discovering that the struggles each faced did not stem solely from natural disaster, but from ongoing man-made disasters, struggles made larger from government inadequacies, corruption, and military aggression. Below are just a few snippets and highlights from each leg of our trip, which I thought impacted me most. Of course, there is much more to share, but I hope this at least gives you at least a glimpse of life there, the struggles, the perseverance of the people, and imperative that calls us to stand in solidarity with our kababayan back home.

Central Luzon

Barangay Lomboy, Sitio Pagatpat

Sitio Pagatpat in the western shore of Central Luzon. Seen above are disfigured seaweed that has washed ashore as a result of illegal dumping of nickel-rich dirt by large invasive mining corporations in Zambales.

For each night during our time in Central Luzon, KBKN immersed with a different community, learning and exposing ourselves to a diversity of vibrant communities, but also a diversity common problems. At first glance, the picture above seems like it’s from a beachside paradise, but look closer and you’ll find soggy seaweed scattered throughout the Pagatpat community, a fisherfolk village whose economy depends mainly on deep sea and spear fishing. Unlike regular seaweed that washes ashore, this one sticks to the sand, is  physical manifestation of negative outcomes produced from exploitative, invasive, open mining practices. Essentially, nearby open mining companies have dumped excess, nickel-ridden dirt into the ocean, disrupting the fish supply, discoloring the water and disrupting a way of life these people have lived for decades. Although protests have delayed operations to an extent, the village continues to be subject to subpar fishing conditions, lowering yields, lowering income, and creating a cycle of poverty that worsens their situation. Nearby, other peasant communities have claimed that negative effects of recent typhoons have been exacerbated by mining corporations, killing of freshwater tilapia in the streams and damaging crops.

Despite these ailments, progress is being made. Just one week after our visit to Pagatpat, the newly appointed secretary for the Department of Energy and Natural Resources shutdown 4 mining operations, which involved invasive open mining practices. One of which, the Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation, was visited by KBKN delegates. Still, countless other large-scale mining efforts continue to threaten communities up and down the Philippines and the shutdown of 4 operations, although a good first step, needs to be bolstered with stricter regulation, closer government monitoring, and a larger vision for a mining-free Philippines.

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Eastern Visayas

Municipal Marabut, Barangay Caluwayan

The fisherfolk community of Caluwayan with boats being prepared for fishing. To the right, just steps from the village lies the Caluwayan Palm Island resort, which will not be subject to a 40 meter No Build Zone that is being implemented for the Caluwayan community.

In the Eastern Visayas region, we spent the first couple days in Tacloban, one of the hardest hit municipalities in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Although the damage was devastating and rebuilding efforts appeared on first glance to be complete, the tragedy of 2013 was not isolated to Tacloban alone. All along the eastern edge of Samar, farm-based and fisherfolk communities faced devastation as well. One such fisherfolk village was in Barangay Caluwayan in the municipality of Marabut just to the east of Tacloban. Here, evidence of the damage created by Typhoons Haiyan (2013) and Ruby (2014) was still apparent, but fortunately, local and international development and aid agencies had assisted in building new temporary housing for the community.

With the guidance and local expertise of the Leyte Center for Development, we were able integrate with fisherfolk and community members from Caluwayan who have sustained their livelihoods there for so long despite increasing occurrences of natural disasters. But while their livelihoods as fisherfolk seems stable and settled at that moment, they knew they would all eventually have to leave. Their housing was indeed temporary and all knew the day would come when officials would come with bulldozers and eviction notices to kick them out. Although government-sponsored permanent housing settlements were being constructed, their completion dates were being pushed back, leaving fisherfolk communities in limbo. And though this subsidize housing option would provide some sort of semblance government assistance, the fact is that these communities would be displaced. Because of Article 51 of the Philippine Water Code, permanent settlements are not to be built within 40 meters of the seashore where there is dense forestry. But with the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, the government (through DENR) decided to extend this to high-risk areas, including fisherfolk villages of Caluwayan. Yes, these communities that have resided on these seaside areas for decades would be forced to move out supposedly as a protective measure. Such a ‘well-intentioned’ policy has and will disrupt their longstanding ways of life, a livelihood that depends almost entirely on fishing. By displacing these families and moving them in inland settlements, the government may in fact be doing these people a disservice. And mind you, this policy does not affect commercial or development projects including resorts. Just steps from the fisherfolk community lies the Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, a lavish hotel and tourist hot spot, which is not affected by the 40 meter No Build Zone.

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Mindanao

Sultan Kuradat, Barangay Kalamansig, Sitio Tinagdanan

During the flag raising ceremony outside of the recently constructed school which houses 11 Lumad schoolchildren and serves as the main education center for the children of Tinagdanan. Village leaders were being acknowledged during a gift exchange ceremony with the international solidarity mission delegates.

Perhaps the most strenuous and physically demanding leg of the trip, my time in the indigenous community of Tinagdanan, for me, was perhaps the most humbling. 12 hours by truck, 5 hours by dirt bike up a muddy mountain, and a hour hike down, we finally arrived to the Dulangan Manobo tribe, 4 representatives from KBKN and at least 25 more from international and local organizations also seeking an immersive learning experience. Besides Christian missionaries and the occasional health worker, we were the first international delegation with which the community of 100 or so had interacted. Although a school had been built just two months before we arrived to educate local and nearby Lumad children, much of the community had little education. Their only source of freshwater relied on a nearby river. And there existed no infrastructure for electricity nor plumbing, (Yes, no bathrooms!) But despite these conditions, which we might see as inconveniences, this was one of the strongest communities I had integrated with. And yes, for being so isolated from modern lifestyles, some aspects of their culture could be rendered to us as backward from a draconian justice system to everyday conduct that still exhibits patriarchal tendencies. But despite these characteristics that differ from what we traditionally find as customary and despite their struggles, the community exhibited an optimism and spirit that surpassed my expectations. Each member of the tribe was integral to the village’s functionality.  Each held a smile and energy that kept the community alive.

However, soon, that spirit may be disrupted by an impending move that would bring one of the Philippines largest mining agencies, DMCI Mining Corporation (led by one of the Philippines’ richest businessmen, Martin Consunji), closer to the village. With open mining practices in the works, this invasive practice would absolutely damage the village’s water supply, forcing the village to relocate. It could mean more visits from paramilitary contracted by DMCI. It could mean displacement. It could mean illness and death for many community members. But with the support of local organizers and solidarity efforts among the various sister Dulangan Manobo tribes throughout the mountain regions of Sultan Kudarat, efforts are now in play to mobilize and stand up to such disruptions to their basic ways of life.

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As Filipino Americans living in the states, there is only so much we can do to support our kababayan back home in the Philippines. But despite the struggles, no matter how small or large, there is still plenty of work that can and will be done. Together, we must stand, in solidarity with those who experienced travesty for disasters both natural and man-made. We cannot observe and assist with relief efforts without, too, acknowledging that long-standing, systemic and government ailments also contribute to the struggle of the Filipino. If there’s one thing I learned from identifying the common threads and sources of poverty and struggle among the 75% of Filipinos living peasant and fisherfolk livelihoods, it is that the effects of climate change, the recurring devastations, and the increase of occurrences and intensity of weather phenomenon, they are not the main culprits of the tragedy that ensues. Ailments in government and exploitative business practices worsen the effects of natural disaster. Only when we expose such ailments; push for better accountability, policy, and relief; and stand united can we realize full environmental justice for people of the Philippines. Let’s start now.

I <3 the Philippines

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Exciting news everyone! We are having our reportback on Sun., Feb. 12, to share our experiences from last summer in Eastern Samar with the Leyte Center for Development (LCDE). Come to Tully Library to learn more about the struggle for environmental justice in the Philippines, to hear an update on community rebuilding efforts after Typhoon Haiyan, and to connect with new community members in the climate justice movement here in the Bay Area and Filipino communities! We’ll also talk about how you can help victims of the recent Typhoon Nina, which hit the Philippines in late December.

RSVP HERE: https://goo.gl/forms/5h22lKgQueuRePit1

For questions, contact chriseo9@gmail.com.

Send Off Party – Disaster Support Network for the Philippines

7-19-2016 flyer haberdasher

We’re less than a month away from DSNP’s first mission trip to the Philippines! Julian and Jaki would really like to see their friends before they go, but this is NOT an exclusive event, anyone and everyone is welcome. 🙂

We are also currently fundraising for the 2016 typhoon season. The folks at Haberdasher are kindly creating a special cocktail to help us out. 25% of sales of our custom drink will go to typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines. By the way, did you know their drinks are really delicious?

Our 3rd mission participant Jessica Amores will have to miss this party, but she’ll toast with us in spirit!

THE CAUSE
Long term support is needed for the region to recover. After 3 years of fundraising post-Typhoon Haiyan, DSNP made 2016 a year of organizational building. DSNP has decided to partner with the Leyte Center for Development (LCDE) as a sponsor of their Disaster Risk Reduction through Preparedness and Emergency Response Project. The project benefits 715 peasant families in 7 communities in Basey, Samar and Palapag, and Northern Samar in Eastern Visayas. Mission participants are self-sponsored, any and all donations will benefit LCDE. To read more about LCDE and our mission trip and/or donate, check out www.youcaring.com/2016dsnp