Al Gore trains US-based Pinoys as climate leaders

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CHICAGO, Illinois, August 5, 2013—Six Filipinos based in the United States joined the growing roster of climate leaders after attending a training session on Climate Reality Project given by former US Vice President Al Gore.

Gore, founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project, officially welcomed six Filipinos among the more than 1,500 new members to the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Among those who were trained are United Nations news correspondent Tonie Marie Bacala and peace worker Maria Marasigan based in New York; engineer Marc Caratao D.Mgt., sustainable management students Nicole Cruz and Ny-Ann Nolasco from California; and engineer Francisco Alvarez ME, PME of Chicago.

Dr. Marc Caratao, an engineer by profession and born in the province of Cebu said the country’s numerous islands can provide free and clean sources of energy.

“We can directly harness the power of nature such as wind, water and the heat of the sun; we have the technology to utilize and the creativity but we need political will to do it,” he said.

Climate changes can also bring so much devastation on vulnerable communities including the indigenous people, according to peace worker Maria Marasigan.

“I have seen the devastation of hurricane Sandy in New York but I am also alarmed with the disasters that are becoming a new normal brought by the climate crisis in the Philippines affecting our poor communities including the indigenous peoples,” she said.

“Yes, climate change is the cause but the vulnerability of our communities is increased by industries with investors based outside the country – they must be held accountable by paying their climate debts and pulling out their investments from disaster-inducing businesses such as mining,” Marasigan added.

Toni Marie Bacala, a journalist and UN correspondent aired the same concern, noting how changing weather patterns have brought so much devastation on poor communities.

“Some people may deny the reality of the climate crisis but what we know is that our families, relatives and friends including our poor vulnerable communities back home are experiencing unusual weather patterns resulting to loss of livelihoods and lives,” she said.

For Chicago-based Engr. Francisco Alvarez, Filipino families must be able to understand the reality of the climate crisis haunting their relatives in the Philippines.

“We must continue educating our Filipino families about the plight of our people back home, why are they suffering the effects of climate change and how are we able to extend assistance which is long term and invest in clean and green businesses in local communities where we come from,” said Alvarez.

Rodne Galicha, district manager of The Climate Reality Project in the Philippines was expressly happy to have the US-based Filipinos joined the climate project.

“We are glad that Filipinos based in the United States have been trained to spread the reality of the climate crisis and hoping that they would be able to speak up and win the conversation on extreme weather brought about dirty energy which has caused series of disasters in the Philippines,” Galicha said.

Galicha, who also serves as executive director of Romblon-based Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc., has mentored more than 90 Asia-Pacific participants coming from 21 countries.

He said the Filipino-Americans can fulfill the role of making Americans realize that the burning of fossil fuels, over-consumption and investing in climate-inducing industries are making a negative impact on the lives of communities in the developing and least developed countries especially in the Asia-Pacific region such as Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand and India.

Volunteers from all 50 states and more than 70 countries attended the Climate Reality Project’s twenty-third training program.

Training participants included teachers and students, academics, lawyers, physicians and nurses, entertainers, homemakers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, public servants, and more.

Since the program’s inception, Climate Leaders have reached millions of people worldwide through their presentations in their communities.

The just concluded training program was the second Climate Reality Leadership Corps this year.

Last June, the organization held the largest-ever international training program in Istanbul with three Filipinos in attendance: Sonja Garcia Antonio from Davao City, Zephanie Mari Repollo fom Dumaguete City and Elirozz Carlie Labaria from Tagbilaran City. (CBCPNews)

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