Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This is not yet the end...

We all felt hopeful by the time the Rainbow Warrior has faded down into the horizon off to continue the struggle for a greener and peaceful future that's free from coal.

Looking back we cannot help but feel hope at the prospect of freedom from coal. Two days before the Philippine Independence Day we lit the night sky of the Jaro Cathedral grounds in Iloilo to manifest our aspirations as beacons of hope and it is with the departure of the Rainbow Warrior that we are hopeful that the candle lights that illuminated that dark night sky has sparked a flame that would carry on until genuine and lasting freedom from coal is realized.

This is not yet the end...

Stay tuned for the Rainbow Warrior's arrival in Thailand...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In the eye of the storm – or the effects of burning coal

What an end to our Quit Coal ship tour in the Philippines… After talking about the effects of Climate Change on the Philippines for several weeks, I experienced them first hand with “Frank” or internationally better known as Typhoon Fengshen. The Rainbow Warrior left just in time from the island of Boracay where we had launched the “Save the Climate, save Boracay” initiative with local resorts. Just hours later the typhoon struck the island.

I have never seen such torrential rainfall, flooding and strong gales for 3 days. Stuck on the paradise island of Boracay – it seemed more like hell with no way to escape; no electricity, water or any kinds of communication with the outside world.
The locals assured me that this was nothing compared to a super typhoon.
Although typhoons hit the Philippines on a regular basis, they have changed their pathway due to climate change hitting the islands more frequently and intensely. Here you can get a glimpse of the impacts.
I can tell you, that I am more than relieved that the storm is over. The sad irony is that the island of Panay with the City of Iloilo, where we have been protesting against the new coal fired power plant and pointing at the impacts of Climate Change, has been hit hardest. Greenpeace Southeast Asia is now looking if we can help with the rescue operations.
Climate Change often seems so far away to me, reduced to scientific numbers – this experience has definitely showed me that we cannot waste any more time until we act.

Britten

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From the climate defenders camp to the the funders of coal

Sorry but my last entry didn’t show up on the website (internet doesn't always work on the ship). So I give you again an overview of the last days.

When the sun rose on Monday morning I climbed into one of the inflatables from the Rainbow Warrior and headed with mixed feelings towards the Climate Defenders Camp on the shore.
The day before had started off in a festive atmosphere. Anti-coal communities arrived in boats to support the camp as the road access had been blocked. Together we planted colourful wind socks around the camp with personal Quit Coal messages. We packed out our solar cookers and cooked noodles for everyone. It felt a little like having a picnic at a festival.

Suddenly Panay Power brought in about 100 so called “pro coal” people into our tiny camp (much more than the day before). However one of the women told a Greenpeace volunteer that they were paid 500 pesos and received free lunch to be there. The atmosphere grew tense again when Panay Power employees threatened to tear down the camp.
Intense debates took place and my full admiration goes to all the Greenpeace volunteers for always behaving calm and friendly - even when the employees started covering our 6 meter high structure with cloth enclosing our climbers. Non-violence sends out such a powerful message!

In the afternoon a priest managed to convince the Panay Power people to leave.
The next morning we broke up the camp shifting our campaign focus on Metrobank, the funder of the proposed power plant. We dumped a huge amount of coal in front of the main branch (see the viral here) and will continue our campaign nationally against them until we stopped this plant.

Taking down the camp was hard work and I felt a little sad to leave this place behind. But when the last volunteer jumped into one of the boats, some locals came running along the shore. They handed flowers to us and thanked for our support. This was a nice note to leave on.

We finished the Iloilo stop with a dinner in the archbishop's palace and are now on our way to Boracay.

Britten

Monday, June 16, 2008

Metrobank: Save the Climate!


Click here to know more

Taking the easy way out...

News came about of intimidation from Panay Power Corporation (PPC), wherein their men harassed the Greenpeace Climate Defenders Camp in Barangay Ingore, Iloilo City, Philippines and endangered the safety of peaceful activists.

In an unprovoked attempt to disrupt the camp, workers from PPC, acting under orders from management, tried to dismantle the camp tower while Greenpeace climbers were still on the structure and could have been injured. Later the workers fenced in the Camp tower with bamboo poles and tarpaulin, cutting off the Greenpeace activists.

A quick look at it, simply makes me realize how PPC is now trying to take the easy way out, by resorting to violence in order to brush aside our message. At the same time it also demonstrates why the Greenpeace principle of non-violent confrontation to raise the level and quality of public debate has stood the test because it does not take the easy way out it seeks to go deep into the roots and follow through on the issue and stop only when the 'wrong' has been made 'right,'as Cesar Chavez puts it:

"Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak … Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win."

Read our statement on the incident

- chuck baclagon

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Facing the pro coal villagers


Have you ever been surrounded by 20 people shouting at you in a language you don’t understand? Quite scary. Yesterday in the early hours of the evening the pro coal chief of the village next to our camp had organized his relatives to come to the camp and shout their pro coal messages. The atmosphere seemed tense.

I made eye contact with the women in the crowd and smiled at them and to my surprise the smiled back, even giggled and seemed somehow embarrassed. Most of them had spent the afternoon with us while their children had coloured in pictures of the Rainbow Warrior with our Quit Coal message. Three women seemed more serious though and tried to agitate the crowd. My heart was beating. Not the right moment to sit down and have a discussion about Climate Change. Just repeating that we are here to protest peacefully, smiling and calming down the crowd. I can understand that they want the jobs at the power plant and the money the company promised to invest into schools. However they will be the ones first feeling the impacts of climate change and won’t have any resources to adapt. I have to tell myself that many people in the community are against this plant and that this is also more than just a local issue.

It seemed hours before they left. They might come back though today.

Britten

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day two at Climate Defenders Camp, Bgy Ingore, Iloilo City


Greenpeace yesterday established their Climate Defenders Camp at the exact site of a proposed coal-fired power plant in Barangay Ingore, Iloilo City. The camp consists of a tower and tents on a seaside area that was previously used for fish ponds but now allocated for the said coal plant. Banners with messages saying 'Quit Coal, Save the Climate' and 'Coal causes Climate Change' are hung around the camp, located a few kilometers away from the center of the city. Since yesterday, Greenpeace activists who are staying in the camp have been transmitting messages and images of the protest to a global audience and seek support to stop the proposed coal-fired power plant. The activists are joined by local volunteers, representatives from RISE (Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy), and crew from the organization's flagship Rainbow Warrior, currently in the Philippines for its 'Quit Coal – Save the Climate' ship tour. The Rainbow Warrior is anchored near the Climate Defenders Camp, providing support to Greenpeace volunteers on the ground.


Greenpeace has set up a camp in the coal plant site to step up the public opposition to the proposed coal plant. The camp is meant to be a hub for local communities and groups who are against the plant. The camp serves as a center for their public awareness campaigns about the ill effects of coal-fired power plants, climate change and its dangerous impacts, and solutions such as RE and EE.

The construction of the camp yesterday, as well as the set up of the Greenpeace-Solar Generation Solar Café at Bgy. Ingore has caught the attention of the coal-fired power plant proponents Panay Power Corporation and Global Business Power Corporation (a subsidiary of Metrobank), who would like to see the camp dismantled.



This morning, a police checkpoint is preventing media, pro-environment supporters, students, bikers and the Solar Café team from entering Bgy Ingore.



Events for today
Bikers
30 bikers from local biking groups will be visiting the camp to lend their support to the activists



* Cookout



Activists in the camp have set up solar cookers as part of their camp activities



* Forum



RISE is hosting a forum on site on the impacts of coal, for residents of nearby barangays

Friday, June 13, 2008

From the Solar Cafe Point of View

We arrived on site early in the morning to set up the Solar Cafe, our venue for engaging the community in what we were doing at the proposed coal plant site. From a distance I could see the volunteer-filled inflatables waiting by the coastline, and the sight of the approaching Rainbow Warrior and all that it stood for still made me catch my breath, even as I was apprehensive about how the first few hours would turn out. Somehow the shipís presence gave me reassurance that everything was going to be okay, that our teams would be safe, and that we would be able to deliver our message loud and clear.



There was a bit of a standoff when the barangay captain first arrived. His vehicle was about 20 meters away, headlights flashing, but he wasnít approaching or getting out. At this point my mind couldnít help but play western movie music as I wondered if and how he would make the first move.



Well, the media decided for us since suddenly they were everywhere, interviewing representatives of the Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy (RISE), the barangay captain, and our Greenpeace campaigners.



We had several confrontations wherein we tried to appease those who came and tried to stop us, to the extent of them pulling down our streamers. The barangay captain kept insisting that had we followed procedures and given notice, he would have given his support. Sure. Then there was that whole hullabaloo about PPC owning the land and the access road we were on, so we had to move two meters back from the shoulder of the road, and that the land owner of that land instructed the barangay captain that we couldnít stay there, when in fact we had the land ownerís full support to set up the Solar Cafe, with the help of our RISE allies.



When they realized they couldnít kick us out, the pro-coal leaders immediately launched their own impromptu 'rally,' calling on their allegedly paid supporters and trying to put their pro-coal streamers over ours. The police arrived in several batches and were surprised and amused that instead of finding violent protesters and trespassers, they found volunteers serving them fruit shakes with a smile.



At the height of the sunís heat, things calmed down for us at the Cafe and the scene started looking like a picnic, with our friends from RISE bringing in food, Manong Buko delivering fresh coconuts, and our Cafe Manager serving us coconut shake, guaranteed to make you forget your name. I was still worried about our team in the Camp, and had my eyes glued to what and who was coming in and out, since we were along the way of the only land access to the site where the Camp was built. Nothing out of control, thankfully, as far as when we pulled out the Solar Cafe at around 6pm after a small forum with community members.



Our day with the Solar Cafe ended with village children posing for our cameras, the Rainbow Warrior at a comfortingly close distance, and an orange sunset reflecting off the fishpond waters ñ a nice scenery if not for the belching smokestacks from the diesel power plant in the background. I looked towards the Camp several ponds across and silently wished my fellow Climate Defenders safety for the night. Tomorrow will be another day.



- Tanya Conlu

Save the Climate - Quit Coal in Iloilo, Philippines


Do you remember the movie “The day after tomorrow” ? When I watched it a shudder ran through me and I felt helpless with this dooms day atmosphere in relation to Climate Change. Entering the climate defenders camp this morning here in Iloilo, Philippines in the area of a proposed coal fired power plant, reveals a completely different picture; laughter, colourful flags and banners all around the site, happy but tired Greenpeace activists are working to improve the camp and an atmosphere of peace prevails.


The local children have found their way into the camp and use our improvised pier made of rafts as a platform to jump into the sea. Shouting, clapping and splashing are filling the air. Next to us some workers of the existing power plant have set up camp. I overheard that they are quite happy to be here as they are paid overtime and just have to sit and watch. I feel relieved. The situation looked differently yesterday. Police and the local pro coal village officials came with a whole crowd into the camp and threatened to dissemble the camp. After some negotiation they backed off. This morning they blocked off the road to the camp not letting any camp supporters like nuns and bikers through. Now everything has calmed down.

Being among so many passionate people gives back the feeling that we are doing something meaningful. Sometimes I miss this feeling working in the office and just reading about all the great activities that people organize to combat climate change.
Most important is the feeling of giving hope to the community here. A nun came to me 2 days ago and thanked me for Greenpeace being here. That makes even the worst heat bearable.

Britten

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Actress, model and longtime Greenpeace advocate Angel Aquino celebrates Independence Day with Greenpeace's Climate Defenders Camp.





x.s.
I find this quote from Bill Pullman in from the movie Independence Day quite timely:

"We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

- chuck baclagon

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Solidarity night against coal


We were all in high hopes as music from Noel Cabangon and other local artists filled the halls of the Pius XII Catechetical School in Iloilo for a solidarity concert that was held with the local coal opposition in Iloilo, and what made it extra special is that as we were about to start news came that the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading on the Renewable Energy Bill that would expedite the development of renewable and indigenous energy sources, a wonderful night indeed....

- chuck baclagon

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Go not gently into the night

In two days the Philippines will be remembering its day of independence from Spain a little more than a century ago. In line with that we thought it fitting also for the Filipinos, more specifically the Ilongos to declare once again freedom not from tyranny or imperial oppression but from the greatest threat facing humanity today: climate change upon which coal is the greatest culprit.

So there in the quiet of the night we along with people from the community and the church we solemnly lit candles symbolizing our opposition living out the famous lines of Dylan Thomas’ poem that reads: “Do not go gentle into that good night…

In the short program the Captain Mike, retold the legend of the Rainbow Warriors concluding that in the end we are all warriors who are in a long quest for freedom and true enough we all are and in the case of Iloilo we are with them in their noble pursuit of freedom from coal.


- Chuck Baclagon

Day 6: Leafletting

This is how Dick spent half of his day on the climate camp.

photos by: Beau Baconguis

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day 5: Slow day...

Monday was a slow day for us at the cam having camped inside a church compound, there were very few people who came to visit the camp, especially since its also a holiday and as the average 'church folk' knows Monday is the time for parish people to rest since their peak day in the week is Sunday.

But just the same the day started early for us with the Solar Generation volunteers arriving early to set up their stuff
photo by Vinai Dithajohn
While later that morning our Mareike gave a talk on climate change with students in the local community in their climate youth congress.
photo by Vinai Dithajohn

While on the afternoon Jose from the ship got his imagination fired up and decided to create a coal monster made of cardboard for our exhibit.


photo by: Beau Baconguis

Hopefully tomorrow will be busier...

- chuck baclagon

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Day3: Hurray the navy has arrived!

Do you still remember those war movies with scenes that have the protagonists surrounded by their enemies and then all of a sudden the cavalry arrives and then the tables are turned and the heroes are now on the winning side of the battle?

In a way that’s what we felt now that the Rainbow Warrior has arrived.

The day was greeted with hope that what has been so far accomplished since the ship’s arrival here in the Philippines for our Quit Coal Tour will be replicated in this leg of the tour.

Below is a slideshow of the wonderful images taken by Vinai Dithajohn





the Greenpeace site also has an interesting story on the arrival be sure to check it out on this link


-chuck baclagon

Friday, June 6, 2008

Snapshots from day2

as they say a picture's worth a thousand words... here are some nice photos of what happened on day2 by Albert Lozada of Solar Generation Pilipinas

- chuck baclagon

Day2: Read my lips


The weather today is fairer than yesterday and what’s good about it is that its not so hot as it was yesterday just before it rained. We had a lot of visitors today, that’s why we spent most of our day taking photos of people in a project that we have fondly called: “Read my lips: QUIT COAL!”

Basically the idea is that we are taking photographs of people sporting a drawing of an open mouth with the text, ‘quit coal’ over their lips, basically just so that we could print it later and deliver it to the government just so that they’ll realize that its not just Greenpeace and some civil society groups who are against the proposed coal plant, but the common folks from varying classes and professions.

This project was initiated back when the Rainbow Warrior was still in Manila for an open boat, and what we did was we brought along a computer mounted with a web cam and took photographs of people holding the banner at portside, we already have more than a hundred pictures from local folks students, professionals, religious laity, a couple of police officers and even the Archbishop of Iloilo, Angel Lagdameo, who visited our camp right before sunset, he was more than gracious in accommodating us with the camp site and he just dropped by to show his solidarity with the volunteers from various groups that have set camp.

Hopefully the people pushing for the plant will read our lips loud and clear and decide to no longer push for the coal plant build.

X.S. You can also be part of this photo project just download the banner on this link and snap a shot of yourself holding the banner and submit it in this form, or if you’re on Flickr you could join our group in this link.

- chuck baclagon

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 1: Fire & Rain

"The poor will be hardest hit by weather-related disasters and by soaring price inflation for staple foods, but even the richest nations face the prospect of economic recession and a world in conflict over diminishing resources. Mitigating climate change, eradicating poverty and promoting economic and political stability all demand the same solution: we must kick the carbon habit!"
-Ban Ki Moon, United Nations Secretary General



Today’s world Environment Day and what better way to celebrate it than to open a ‘Climate Defenders Camp’.

Under the clear blue skies we’ve set up camp right outside the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, we’re here because there’s an ongoing struggle between some business groups and government officials on one hand, and the Roman Catholic Church & environmental groups on the other, over a proposal to build a “clean coal” 165MW coal-fired power plant in the province. The location of the coal plant is beside an existing diesel plant located within the city itself, and within 300 meters from densely populated low-income residential neighborhoods.

The NGO Germanwatch, has ranked the Philippines as the top nation to be hit by climate-related disasters in 2006. Yet despite being ravaged by some of the most powerful storms, floods and mudslides in recent years, yet the Philippine government is embarking on one of the most aggressive coal expansion plans in Asia.

It is in response to this myopic perspective of development that we’ve set camp in one of the city’s busiest areas we want to engage people into looking at the long-term benefits of opposing the plant and while at the same time pushing for a dramatic shift of our energy dependence from coal to renewable energy.

As we set camp youth members of Solar Generation launched a solar café that runs on solar energy derived from the solar panels that we’ve also installed on site, we’re hoping that the people of Iloilo would share our vision of a greener future that’s no longer dependent on fossil fuels, echoing the sentiments stated by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon on his World Environment Day Speech.

A few hours after we’ve put up the entire camp along with the exhibit, rain suddenly gushed and what seemed like an afternoon drizzle suddenly became a relentless downpour that flooded the entire camp area and we were forced to take down all the stuff that might get damaged from the water that's speedily engulfing our camp.

By the time the rain has stopped it was almost dusk and we were forced to regroup and rebuild. Hopefully tomorrow's another day...


video
This is a video taken by our volunteer Albert on his camera during the rain

The whole experience candidly reminded me of James Taylor’s, Fire & Rain where there’s a line that goes: “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain…” and that best explains how we all felt we put up camp under the scorching heat of the sun up until noontime when suddenly the rain poured. On hindsight, our experience during the first day of the camp best illustrates the sudden unpredictability of weather patterns that we are all experiencing now, due to climate change. All over the world there’s a debate on whether or not we should kick the carbon habit.

Hopefully this camp will in its own little way help turn the tide in the debate.


- chuck baclagon

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sailing

Yesterday was an exciting day as I found out that we were going to open the sails and cut the engines. We thought we would wait up until late night for that but luck was on our side. We were out of the treacherous waters off Corregidor by mid afternoon and there was a little bit of wind which allowed us to use our sails.

It was the first time I ever really SAILED. And what a glorious feeling it was. No sound of engines. Hot sun. Nice breeze. But more importantly, the breeze filled the sails of the Rainbow Warrior so that it could carry us to our next destination, Iloilo. There, we will join our local partners and communities in fighting coal.

We sailed all night. Most of us sat outside until the wee hours of the morning to enjoy the peace and quiet, watch the stars and have good conversations. This is THE LIFE that many of us are deprived of, just being able to appreciate the grandness of, and the complex yet orderly way that nature functions.

Sailing not only gave us time to appreciate nature but also push our advocacy to combat climate change by walking the talk and using wind power to get to our next destination.

- Beau Baconguis

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Manila, Manila

We arrived in Manila last Wednesday after three days peacefully protesting at Pagbilao coal-fired power plant where we were able to get our message across to government. Was happy to be home--10 days is the longest I've ever been on a ship. But what felt better was we went to Manila knowing that the work we had done in Pagbilao had borne good fruit. Congressman Tanada issued a statement calling for the stop to the proposed expansion of Pagbilao plant while Senator Pia Cayetano had filed, and Senator Miguel Zubiri will file, resolutions specifically calling for a phase out of coal use and a massive shift to renewable energy. So...it's the start of something beautiful :)

Work's not over yet for us tho' as there's a lot more to do. But until we arrived in Manila, i never thought i'd look at this city--my crowded, noisy, everything-seems-to-happen-in-fast-forward city--as restful. After our packed days campaigning in Pagbilao, Manila was restful with its cozy familiarity. It's the same feeling at today's open boat in Pier 13 where we're docked. There were hundreds of friendly faces, most of whom i'd met for the first time. Staff, crew and volunteers should've been tired (what with all the activities), but we only felt a reassuring kind of happiness.

If ships had feelings I'd like to think that the Rainbow Warrior is smiling tonight as she sleeps. Tired, maybe, but happy. The Rainbow Warrior leaves Manila in a few days, on to other parts of the Philippines, and then to other parts of the world, but still campaigning and calling out to governments to 'quit coal'. I'd like to imagine that when she's out at sea again in between campaigns she'll look back at these days docked peacefully in Manila, and smile.

- Lea Guerrero