‘Listen to the Faces’ of Victims of Climate Change — Legarda

August 3, 2011

This is the main message Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, wanted to convey in coming up with a photo exhibit entitled Visage: Portraits of Filipinos Facing Climate Change, co-organized with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities headed by Red Constantino.
In her message, Legarda explained that the photo exhibit hopes to respond to the fundamental gap in our ability to see a more complete picture of the threats climate change pose on our people.
“Statistics dominate headlines and discourse on the catastrophes of climate change like inches of rainfall, damages to properties and businesses, costs of livestock and crop destruction, and so on. These are vital and yet ultimately impersonal figures that are often presented to us. Even tolls on people displaced and killed remain just that-disquieting but faceless numbers,” said Legarda.
She stressed that “portraits of human suffering are more compelling than photographs that show destruction of our properties precisely because our encounter with the face holds a special place in our daily interaction with one another.”
“The face speaks to us in a way that is infinitely more powerful than spoken words. These portraits of people who fall victim to nature’s fury may exhibit weakness, but it is a powerful kind of weakness, because they impose upon us a call to action. It is a kind of weakness that demands from us responsibility,” Legarda continued.
One significant step our country can take towards climate change resiliency Senator Legarda said, is passing the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) Bill, which intends to create a special trust fund that would finance adaptation project and programs for the most vulnerable among us, “such as those whose portraits are found in this exhibit.”
“In these portraits lie the greatest paradox and tragedy of climate change, that these are the faces of people who have contributed least to climate change but are paying the highest price. It is my hope that these portraits not merely incite commonplace emotions but rather make us more reflective,” the Senator said.
“I urge you all to listen to what these faces are trying to communicate to you,” Legarda concluded.
Among those who attended are Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje, Ambassador of Korea His Excellency Hye Min Lee, French Dev’t Agency Country Director Luc Lee Cabellec and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Senator Loren Legarda is the principal author and sponsor of the Climate Change Act of 2009. She is set to sponsor the PSF bill, which seeks to amend the climate law with a complementing policy on climate finance.