As world leaders negotiate for a possible new agreement on climate change in Paris, France, three Filipino artists are ensuring stories and perspectives from the Philippines cut across the heated discussions.
Three artist-advocates from DAKILA: Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism – AG Saño, Nityalila Saulo, and Micheline Rama – have spent the first week of the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) projecting the truth about climate change impacts in vulnerable nations like the Philippines, as part of the organization’s Climate Revolution campaign.
AG Saño, a world-renowned artist and activist was invited by If Not Us Then Who? to create an environmental communal mural at Point Ephémère, a centre for artistic events in the 10th arrondissement of Paris at Canal Saint-Martin. The mural features Saño’s close friend, Agit Sustento, a tattoo artist and musician from Tacloban who perished with his family during Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) two years ago.
“We’re painting him here to put a face on the effects of climate change,” he said, “A lot of people around the world don’trecognise the problems we’re facing on the other side of the planet.”
Bridging gaps between countries and cultures is also the goal of Nityalila Saulo, a musician who has now taken a message of solidarity across continents. Her song, “Tayo-Tayo” – penned during the 1,000-kilometer Manila-Tacloban Climate Walk in 2014 – is now the anthem for the People’s Pilgrimage, a 1,500-kilometer trek from Rome to Paris which she undertook with Saño and climate pilgrims from all over the world.
Nityalila explains the song’s evolution: “This song does not belong to us anymore, it belongs to the people we met along the way, the people we are fighting for and the people whose voices we bring. It is about taking actions together towards climate justice.”
Meanwhile, at the Le Bourget Conference venue where the climate negotiations are being held, visual artist, Micheline Rama has been putting delegates and world leaders face-to-face with the realities of climate change by projecting images of the aftermath and victims of Typhoon Haiyan around the conference venue. The guerrilla art project is called “#LostAndDamaged”, a play on the hotly debated “loss and damage” provision of the climate agreement outlining that vulnerable countries like the Philippines need to be compensated for the adverse effects of climate change.
“In the Philippines, thousands of lives are lost, billions of dollars worth of property, crops and infrastructure are damaged because of climate change,” she says, “Meanwhile, leaders of countries most responsible for carbon emissions are not owning up to the impacts they have caused to the rest of the world.”
The three artists are continuing the legacy of DAKILA’s climate justice advocacy which began with the Philippines tck tck tck campaign in partnership with Oxfam during the Copenhagen Summit in 2009, which engaged over 84 artists to use their art in lobbying for strong policies on climate; and Climate School, an educational series empowering young people to come up with creative solutions for the climate crisis in their communities.
“We believe in the power of art to create a strong statement and change the way people view the world,” says Leni Velasco, the organization’s Executive Director “As we always say in DAKILA, true revolution begins in the imagination.”
How do you contribute in averting climate change?
DAKILA is a group of artists, students, and individuals committed to working together to creatively spark social consciousness formation towards social change.
Learn more at Dakila.org.ph
Climate Revolution is DAKILA’s campaign for climate justice, fighting to switch the power from world leaders to the people to decide on the fate of the Earth.
Learn more at ClimateRevolution.ph