DAKILA, artist-advocates hold online telethon for typhoon victims

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Consecutive typhoons in the span of a month, flash floods and landslides, and the loss of lives, livelihoods, and lifestyles—all in the middle of a pandemic. This has been glaring proof of not just the worsening climate crisis but also the lack of urgency to mitigate the risks of disasters and implement effective long-term solutions.

Artist collective DAKILA, with its human-rights education center Active Vista and in partnership with youth network We The Future PH, recently launched the Bayanihan Republic Telethon, a web program to raise funds to assist the recovery of the victims of the recent typhoons, particularly Rolly and Ulysses.

Joining the telethon are artists Johnoy Danao, Cooky Chua, Noel Cabangon and Lourd De Veyra among others. Sharing their insights in the discussion are Yeb Saño, climate activist and executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia; Ezra Acayan, photojournalist; Ariel Rojas, a weather specialist and Catanduanes native; Jerome Dulin and Joseph Arcegono, filmmakers from the North Luzon Cinema Guild and members of the Cagayan Volunteer Initiative; and Krishna Ariola, co-convener of We The Future PH and cofounder of Youth for Climate Hope.

     Apart from the fund-raising aspect of the activity, Bayanihan Republic Telethon aims to discuss climate change and governance in the present Philippine context—the climate emergency, the pandemic, economic recession, and its overall effect on the full enjoyment of human rights.

For the past years, the fatal effects of natural calamities in the country have been downplayed by the lack of a whole-of-nation approach to disaster risk reduction and management, and by romanticizing Filipino resiliency. In the time of the Covid-19 pandemic—when the risks to the public’s health are higher as casualties flock into evacuation areas—DAKILA calls for an efficient plan on managing disaster risks especially catered to protect us both from the calamities and health crisis.

“While calamities are part of our nature, it is undeniable that typhoons are intensified by climate change; and the lack of proactive, comprehensive and science-based plans by our government worsens its effects on our communities,” DAKILA communications director Andrei Venal said.

“With the lack of effective climate mitigation, disaster risk reduction, and emergency response from the current administration, we are left with no clear pathway to recovery,” We The Future PH co-convenor Krishna Ariola said in a statement. “The Filipino people have to make do with rebuilding our lives disaster after disaster, without any assurance of support and protection when the next one decides to strike.”

They added: “There is nothing wrong with being resilient, but it becomes a problem when one reduces calamities to a front-page photo of a person smiling amid floodwaters, diverting attention away from the accountability of those responsible.”

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