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From the rubble to the front line

By Isabella Mendoza

I recently went on my very first trip to Tacloban with ICSC. As we went around the city, we could still see remnants of the damage wrought by Yolanda three years ago — structures with crumpled steel roofs, cracked tiled floors without walls and sea walls with missing sections. But from what I saw, the people have gotten back on their feet since the super typhoon. Downtown was bustling with multi-cabs and jeepneys and the streets were lined with restaurants, hotels, and other establishments akin to those you’d see in Metro Manila.

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We went to Tacloban to organize a round table discussion on low-carbon development. We gathered leaders from government, business, development sector, and academe from Leyte, Samar and Iloilo in attempting to answer the big question: Where do we go from here? After three years of disaster relief and rehabilitation in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda, what path will the people of Visayas take towards development?

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Despite the complexities of several concepts and procedures, it was evident that the stakeholders present in the meeting were engaged in the discussion. They shared existing projects that ranged from transitioning to renewable energy and solid waste management, ridge-to-reef programs and sustainable agriculture. They also shared their interest in receiving the necessary technical training and education to be able to realize these projects.

After the round table discussion, we came across some of those initiatives that have already been set in motion. We visited the RE-Charge facility which hosts the Solar Scholars program. We drove by a local call center topped with solar panels. And we walked through the community of Costa Brava in San Jose District, where ICSC has already installed a solar-powered water pump system. Its residents have not been connected back to the grid since Yolanda destroyed their power lines, but come this evening, December 9, over thirty households will receive our solar home systems.

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These signs are merely stepping stones in the grand scheme of climate action, but as a rookie in the field, having just recently joined the ICSC team, my being able to see these things play out is like watching gears slowly being set in motion. The moves laid out by national leaders, and the collaboration and response from various sectors in local communities, are pieces that are falling into place to move the cause along.

There’s a lot that can be said about a community, more so a whole country, that has suffered so much yet still continues to forge ahead on the road less traveled. Maybe soon we’ll become a well-oiled machine – but one that’s powered by clean and green energy.

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