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Groundbreaking Pinoy literary climate change anthology launched in Berlin

Berlin, June 4 — A pioneering Philippine literary anthology on climate change was launched in Berlin today at the head office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Schumannstrasse. Titled Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change, the book was published by the Cubao-based policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, or iCSC.

The book was launched in 2014 in Quezon City, Tacloban City, Manhattan, New York, and Washington DC. Philippine Ambassador to Germany Melita Sta.Maria-Thomeczek opened the event, jam-packed with members of Germany’s literary, scholarly and policy community. Berlin-based Filipina singer Isa Tabasuares, graduate student April Matias, and German climate activist Daniel Mittler read excerpts from Agam.

Composed of 26 images and 24 works in verse and prose, Agam is written in eight languages, using Bikol, Cebuano, English, Ilokano, Maguindanao, Tagalog and Waray, minus the crutch of scientific or NGO jargon. English translations are supplied throughout the book.

Philippine Ambassador to Germany Melita Santos Sta. Maria-Thomeczek opened the event, which was organised by Berlin-based leading climate intellectual Daniel Mittler and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, along with AsiaHouse, Powershift and the Philippine Studies group of Berlin. Photo by Red Constantino/iCSC

Philippine Ambassador to Germany Melita Santos Sta. Maria-Thomeczek opened the event, which was organised by Berlin-based leading climate intellectual Daniel Mittler and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, along with AsiaHouse, Powershift and the Philippine Studies group of Berlin. Photo by Red Constantino/iCSC

According to bestselling author Naomi Klein, “Agam is exquisite: a deeply original concept executed with tremendous artistry. Rather than asking readers to care about the whole world at once, these elegant vignettes distill the climate crisis down to its most intimate and human details. By focusing on the small, the biggest questions of all are cracked open. How do we heal after our most beloved and nourishing places have turned against us? How do we live in a world that has itself become a question mark? And most of all: How can we stop inflicting such violence on one another?”

Contributors to Agam include celebrated poets Merlinda Bobis, Merlie Alunan and Ramon C. Sunico, Columbia School of Journalism Dean Sheila Coronel, public intellectual Arnold Azurin, erotic artist Maylingsu, and University of the Philippines-Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, and writers Criselda Yabes and Regina Auan. Photojournalist Jose Enrique Soriano supplied the book’s images using Hasselblad medium format cameras and Fuji NPH400 color film.

“The title of the book, Agam, is an early Tagalog word for foreboding and memory. Agam brings together new work from Filipino writers across diverse disciplines, focused on the confrontation between climate change and cultures across the archipelago,” said Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of iCSC. “More than climate change, the book is about people, about what was, what might be, and what is. It is the story of all of us. It is an attempt to alter the discourse on an issue bigger than anything the world has encountered.”

More information about the book can be accessed through www.

About the Featured Image: Isa Tabasuares, a Berlin-based Filipina performed one of her compositions for the launch of Agam in Berlin last June, before going on to read an excerpt from Merlie Alunan’s piece in the unique literary anthology on climate change. Photo by Red Constantino/iCSC

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