Science and Personal Stories come together in webinar-workshop for youth film-makers

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Science and Personal Stories come together in webinar-workshop for youth film-makers

To help deepen youth  participants’ understanding of climate change concepts and community-based action, the OML Center and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) held the Kaalamang Klima: Climate Change webinar-workshop for participants of the Klima Film Festival (KFF) last Tuesday, August 11, 2020. The KFF is a film-making competition for the Filipino youth which aims to mainstream the effects of climate change.

This is the first of several workshops provided for free to youth competitors of the KFF. Technical experts explained climate change concepts, while advocates, some of whom are survivors of extreme weather events, shared personal stories to help broaden participants’ understanding of climate risks and impacts.

The webinar-workshop was attended by 56 teams participating in KFF, representing at least 13 regions. Representatives from 18 youth organization partners also joined.

In his keynote address, CCC Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman described the purpose of the first workshop. “With the help of the country’s leading climate scientists and advocates, we shall increase your understanding of the climate crisis and the challenges at hand,” Secretary De Guzman said. “We shall help you communicate climate change effectively so that you can inspire others, especially our national and local leaders to heed the science and make risk-informed decisions for the sake of our people, nature, and planet,” he added.

Science as foundation

Members of CCC’s National Panel of Technical Experts, OML Center Executive Director Dr. Rodel D. Lasco and University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) Director Dr. Laura David provided background on climate change concepts and impacts to help ground the science in the films to be created by the participants.

While Dr. Lasco emphasized that today’s youth are fully aware that they will inherit the planet, he underscored climate change data and projections that will have the greatest impact. He explained that excess greenhouse gases facilitate the increase of temperature of the planet and which sectors are responsible based on annual carbon dioxide emissions. Dr. Lasco also showed data on the tight correlation between increasing temperature and amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over time. He provided projections from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) that the planet has been steadily warming up from 60-70 years ago. “The story is consistent, our country will continue to warm,” Dr. Lasco said. 

Dr. David, on the other hand, focused her discussion on the effects of climate change, specifically sea level rise. She illustrated how rising sea levels will affect natural resources, particularly mangroves, and how it will result in cascading hazards and disasters like increased exposure to storm surge. Citing the experience of Palompon, Leyte during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, Dr. David noted how mangroves buffered storm surges up to 3.6 meters high. She added that losing mangroves also meant losing sequestered carbon.

Dr. David highlighted that the most affected by sea level rise will be people with the lesser capability to adapt, including fisherfolk. She challenged filmmakers to highlight what people can do, saying “you cannot stop sea level rise but you can help nature adapt so there won’t be cascading effects.”

In a separate session, Dr. Lasco further discussed the concepts of adaptation and mitigation to explain responses to climate change. “We need science. We need to understand the science,” Dr. Lasco said. “As you prepare your films, as you do your craft and be creative about your filmmaking, make sure you embed the right science in those films.”

Stories of hope, action

Joanna Sustento, public engagement campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines, Marinel Ubaldo, founder and president of Youth Leaders for Environmental Action Federation, and Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines, shared their experiences in raising climate awareness initiatives on the ground. 

Sustento, who is a  Super Typhoon Yolanda survivor, emphasized that real-life stories are just as important as climate science. “Science presents the facts and the figures, while stories reveal the heart and soul behind the statistics,” she said. Sustento added that there is a need for collecting and connecting people’s stories and that capturing these, especially through film, would create a platform for these to be heard, empowering victims of climatic events and giving them a sense of purpose.

Ubaldo, also a survivor of Super Typhoon Yolanda, shared: “We did not know what storm surge meant until we experienced it ourselves”. Ubaldo has since turned their vulnerability into strength, advocating for climate justice locally and internationally.

Ubaldo shared that international engagements exposed her to people from diverse backgrounds and understand different ways and approaches that organizations do to help young people become a catalyst for change in their communities.

“People who have experienced the brunt of climate change humanize science,” Ubaldo said. “I am not here talking to you as a climate statistic, but as a human being trying to remind you: we need to value lives.” Ubaldo reminded the participants that they have the power to do something.

For Galicha, a change of mindset and lifestyle is needed. Galicha, who grew up in Romblon, recalled working to stop mining companies from destroying their island. Galicha shared that the first step of being climate friendly is a change of mindset, a need to recognize and admit that what we and all what we have come from nature. Once we destroy the source of our lives and our livelihood, we are killing ourselves.” 

The battle now, he says, is larger. “We need to sound the alarm for climate emergency.”

Like Sustento and Ubaldo, Galicha underscored the role of the youth in shaping a climate-resilient world. “Young people, you are not the future of our country anymore, you are the now!” he said. “Learn from the lessons of the past to face the challenges of today. You need to survive. Sustain your being, sustain the resistance.” 

Maricres Valdez Castro, Muntinlupa City candidate to the Miss Universe 2020, and Val Amiel Vestil, founder and executive director of the Association of Young Environmental Journalists, moderated the event. 

The webinar-workshop is a requirement for eligibility to the Klima Film Festival. The KFF is part of the OML Center’s Balangay Project which aims to chronicle the stories of the changing climate in the context of the Filipino experience and how it has shaped the Filipino identity and culture.

You may also read: 

CCC, OML Center hold “Kaalamang Klima” webinar for youth participants of Klima Film” Festival (Philippine Information Agency)