I Stand With The Philippines

 Naderev M. Saño, head of delegation for the Philippines, leans forward over the mic, his voice breaking under the weight of the emotion he is struggling to contain. It’s the closing plenary of the Kyoto Protocol. After nearly two weeks of disappointing inaction, rumors circulating about the failed leadership of the COP presidency, and the continued unwillingness of the U.S. to increase its ambition or financial pledges, the frustration at COP18 is palpable.

I’m struggling not to tune out most of what is going on, droning voices and stale positions. So when the Philippines delegate begins speaking, his voice catching on the emotion choking his throat, it pulls me forward. Because I feel what he is feeling.

As he voices his concern about the text and about the struggles of his people in dealing with a dramatic natural disaster, I cease to notice anything else in the room. Only the powerful emotion behind his words, his appeal to the world and its leaders, his reminder of what this is really about.

“The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people. I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?’ (Scroll down for video clip). 

I swallow my tears, trying to hold my emotion back as it rises up from my chest. This is the delegation I want, the delegation that reflects the urgency the American youth–the world’s youth–so desperately want from their leaders. When I sit back, reflecting on how the world would be if my delegation was more like the Filipino delegation, the chasm between what is and what should be is staggering and the weight of that reality burdens my heart and my conscience. When the U.S. asks what its youth wants from it, it’s this. This moment, this humanity, this leadership.

If my government took a leadership position like this one, Todd Stern’s words would bring tears of joy similar to the relief we felt breaking over us in 2009. Equity would be addressed, and common but differentiated responsibilities would not be a tattered argument dangling from the fingers of the disenfranchised. We would stop shirking our responsibility, we would increase our ambition, deal fairly with the countries burdened with the consequences of our actions, follow through on the financial pledges we’ve made, and our actions would enable and inspire an agreement that will pull us back away from the point of no return, a point we have nearly reached.

As the delegate from the Philippines left the room, the youth stood on either side of him, clapping as he walked by. He stopped, hugging each one of us and I broke down into tears as soon as he reached me. All of the frustration and hopes I have for my own country, all of the sadness my optimism tries to hide, broke loose. Because this was human, this was real. It was none of the false progress that my own delegates offer. No easy nonchalance, no careful distance, no empty words. This was real, emotional, reflecting the fear, sadness, and frustration that all of us hold so deeply within our hearts.

This afternoon I will go to a press conference. I will listen to Todd Stern, with the exhaustion hanging over his head, pressing down on his shoulders, as he tries to convince us we are making progress on an emissions reduction that is as inadequate now as it was when we first agreed to it. Sympathy stirs, a solidarity, a feeling that we–in principle–are on the same side. I imagine he must be exhausted, wrangling what little room he can from a Congress I am ashamed to call my own. Last night I felt a flicker of hope because he went so far as to mention equity and CBDR in his speech. Now I am ashamed that this elicited a flicker of hope rather than a wave of indignation that it’s taken us this long to simply mention it with any degree of openness or willingness to engage.

My country’s mandate in these negotiations has ceased to reflect the ideals that burn so brightly within my heart so I choose to follow a country more in line with the ambition, equity, and leadership that my country, my people, are fully capable of but consistently refuse to act on.

I stand with the Philippines.

 

  • Anonymous

    I love the Philippines but seriously, don’t complain about anyone else until you make it a priority in your own country. You think Kyoto is going to stop the nation from straightpiping waste into rivers, streams and the ocean? That is just the human waste that is ruining the beautiful land and waters and making people sick. If you don’t care about your country or people why should anyone else?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julio-de-Guia/1628738706 Julio de Guia

    Maybe you’re talking about Colgate-Palmolive, Procter and Gamble and a bunch of multinationals whose factories are in the Philippines, located in industrial enclaves. Yes they really are polluting the country, bringing the waste from their own and at the same time, benefiting from the plunder of the country”s natural resources and cheap labor. Only recently, American ships are caught dumping their waste off the shores.

  • Anonymous

    I think he’s crying because his father Steph got caught doing some hanky-panky in sbma (a govt agency running the former subic naval base). Sano must also properly attribute his quote: “I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?’ to Ditto Sarmiento, a Filipino writer-activist who disappeared during the martial law years. Otherwise, he’s no different from the plagiarists-senators and -justices in the Philippines. Sad, but I never heard of him espousing views about controversial and relevant environmental causes in the Philippines.

  • Pilosopo Tikya

    You are one of the reasons why the Philippines retrogress! Instead of basking in the Philippine moment of pride, you allude to the plight of the Philippines of which I am sure you are doing nothing but complain and complain. You are like many whose main role is to complain, to rally, to protest but like a shallow gong, all noise!

  • Pilosopo Tikya

    I think you are missing the point and you’re barking the wrong tree. It is not Commissioner Sano’s role to monitor the environmental law implementation of the country. It is the DENR’s, the DILG’s, the LGU’s and yours and mine! Sano is the lead negotiator of the COP therefore his role is to make other countries to wake up and stop the delay!

  • Pilosopo Tikya

    Isa ka pa! As if naman ang local industries owned by Filipinos are not polluting our country. Any industry causes pollution pati indibidwal na tao, lalo na ang TAONG walang pakialam!

  • Anonymous

    And who are you but an apologist who doesn’t pay his taxes correctly? You can do better than that by answering the allegations above intelligently, i.e., plagiarism, sbma racket of the father, and well, doing something concrete in the country instead of crying in an international setting…Boom!

  • Ceasar M. Morandarte

    Our country the Philippines is hit again by another catastrophic super typhoon “Pablo.” Many Filipinos suffered and died, no foods, shelter and livelihood its all gone in a wink of an eye. Where are these fabulous words of the COP18 delegates (Kyoto or Doha).. we must start working in our own backyard to do something in mitigating Climate Change and not counting to the insanity of COP18 before everything here in Planet Earth is meant for words.. DISASTER… DISASTER… DISASTER.. CALAMITY.. CALAMITY.. CALAMITY..

  • Anonymous

    I fully agree that the speaker should have cited Ditto Sarmiento. However, I disagree with you when you drag his father (let’s even assume he’s guilty) into the discussion. As lawyers love to say in court, “objection, your honor! Irrelevant!”

  • maritess suarez

    @rod69:disqus dogs bark if they don’t know the person. for sure,you don’t know father and son. so you can just go on barking as you please. anyways, it’s obvious that you are some lapdog of some crook.

  • maritess suarez

    @rod69:disqus tiyak masaya ang pasko mo,malaki ang binayad sayo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    Thank you po for all of the feedback. I wish to acknowledge that the lines “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where” is the English translation of the Filipino original by Ditto Sarmiento during the First Quarter Storm. I borrowed the lines extemporaneously and I could not remember exactly that it was Ditto Sarmiento who ‘authored’ these inspiring lines. It is his legacy that has inspired movements, then and now. Thanks Ditto! I also wish to state that my father, Stef was wrongly accused of being involved in something that he can never do because he and my mother raised us to be patriotic and respectful of others. He has since been absolved by the Senate and he has filed charges against those who besmirched his reputation. Matino po ang pamilya namin, ni hindi po kami pinapasakay ng tatay ko sa government service vehicle nya. Ako po isang abang public servant po at simple lang po ang pamumuhay na aming pamilya. I take the LRT to my office regularly and ride the jeep home. Sana po ay maging patas po tayo at huwag po manghusga. Maraming salamat po. Yeb Sano yeb.sano@climate.gov.ph

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    I wish to state that my father was wrongly accused, perhaps maliciously, of being involved in something that he can never do because my father and my mother raised us to be patriotic and respectful of others. My father has since been absolved by the Senate and he has filed charges against those who besmirched his reputation. We have a simple and honest family. My father even prohibits us from riding in his government service vehicle. I am also a simple public servant and my family’s life is simple. I take the light rail transit (LRT) and the public jeepneys when I travel from home to my office. Please be fair and not be judgmental. Thank you so much. – Yeb Sano

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    Sir/Ma’am, salamat po for your candidness. I just wish you would know my family first before judging me or my father. Marangal po ang pamilya namin. Hindi po ako marunong magtanim ng sama ng loob kaya po ipinagdadasal ko po kayo. Sana po ay sa aking paliwanag dito ay naliwanagan din po kayo. Thanks po.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    I wish to acknowledge that the lines I uttered at the end of the Philippines statement was not part of the prepared statement and I thought it would be a fitting tribute to this battlecry that we have uttered countless times in U.P. and in rallies and picketlines. I fully acknowledge here that it is indeed the English translation of the community legacy of Ditto Sarmiento. I hope that I have honored him by being able to inspire the global climate youth movement through his legacy. Thank you po. – Yeb Sano

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate the frank words. I wish to let you know that I passionately care about my country. I have worked as an organizer in communities, in barrio schools and I have spent over 15 years managing environmental conservation projects all over the country. I am not complaining but we are just asserting our development rights, curtailed by rich countries who developed by using slaves, abusing the environment, without respect for women’s rights. The Philippines deserves a fighting chance against a global changing climate, which can only be solved if countries that created this problem would take responsibility.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    I also live very simply. I take the LRT and jeepney regularly to my office at the climate change commission. My house is solar-powered and I spend a lot of time working with local communities to reduce their risk from disasters. I don’t wear expensive clothes and all my shoes are made in the Philippines (Marikina). I am also a vegetarian.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    Thank you so much po for defending me. It means a lot to me and my family. God bless po.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    Thanks po for defending me and my family. It means a lot to us. We are an honest and simple family. Salamat po ulit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    “I’ve heard the anthem “Kung Hindi Tayo, Sino? Kung Hindi Ngayon, Kailan?” shouted COUNTLESS TIMES in rallies throughout the decades & no attribution to Sarmiento was made. Why? Because that battlecry has become part of popular folklore. It is NOT a creative statement like a song or a book, meant to be intellectual property of the creator. Ditto Sarmiento would APPROVE of his battlecry being used in a laudable manner” -Marnie Tonson

  • http://www.facebook.com/naderev.sano Naderev Saño

    For what it is worth, I am anti-mining. I am also an advocate against dolphin shows, against wildlife hunting, against reclamation, against illegal logging and against destructive fishing. I am a peace activist. I have managed community conservation projects in many areas around the country working with local communities for over 15 years. I served as a community organizer in disaster-prone communities in Quezon province. i work with many communities in reducing their risk to disasters. I was also the National Director of Earth Hour Philippines. If that is not espousing relevant environmental causes, then I don’t know what is. I can look my children in the eye.

  • barcelona03

    During rallies, it would be ridiculous to attribute slogans. Not so, in the closing plenary of the Kyoto Protocol. More so, when the audience has never heard of this “battlecry” that’s “become part of popular folklore”.

  • Anonymous

    Charges for violation of the code of conduct and ethical standards under Republic Act 3019 were also recommended against Stefani Sano, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) senior deputy administrator of the Business and Investment Group.

    Sano had used the name of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to release the documents in favor of an Indian rice importer.

    Ayan namnamin mo: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/02/12/13/senate-wants-banayo-charged-over-rice-smuggling