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Eyewitness: Moving on

By Senior Advocacy and Policy Officer Jessica Dator Bercilla

8 November 2014 marks the anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, which claimed over 6,000 lives, displaced thousands of families and left many already living in poverty even more vulnerable. 

In the Philippines, there is a term - 'sige' - which, translated roughly, means 'move on'.

'Sige' is how one describes the current drive for recovery, because there is always a reason to pick up the pieces and move forward with life. It is a surge onward and, for many, retreat is not an option. 

Natural resources destroyed

Yet I cannot help but recall the fate of many communities in small islands ravaged by the powerful storm surges accompanying Haiyan.

The island of Mangalabang

The once-thriving fishing community on the small island of Mangalabang in Concepcion, Iloilo, has lost 100% of its coral cover. Without coral reefs, fisheries suffer.

No amount of boats or nets will help restore livelihoods if there is nothing left to catch. If the marine resources in the area do not recover, the fishing industry will remain irreparably damaged.

I visited Mangalabang in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan and saw for myself the damage to the coral cover.

I watched the joyful innocence of children playing around the natural pool the dead corals formed in the sea, unaware that their future had just been swept away by a storm we helped to create, because of how we choose to live.

What price nature?

Filipinos will say 'Sige lang' – 'just move on'. We cannot be stuck in a place of devastation, life goes on.

I just hope that the natural resources that once sustained the lives of people in these small islands can recover as quickly as the hearts of its people. 

When an ecosystem dies, part of our lives is lost with it. So let us resolve to change the way we live to protect our planet's natural resources. Because it is only together with nature that we can move on.


Find out more 

Our report The rich, the poor and the future of the Earth highlights that the threats from climate change, which has been caused by the wealthiest 20 per cent, is pushing people and ecosystems across the globe to be more vulnerable to extreme and unpredictable weather.

Podcast: Yeb Sano, climate change commissioner for the Philippines, says we have a moral duty to protect the planet for the generations to come.

More Eyewitness stories

 

 

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