Message of Senator Loren Legarda Opening of the Photo Exhibit VISAGE: Portraits of Filipinos Facing Climate Change By Jose Enrique Soriano

August 3, 2011

(Standard Greetings)
Statistics dominate headlines and discourse on the catastrophes of climate change: inches of rainfall, damages to properties and businesses, costs of livestock and crop destruction, and so on. These are the vital yet ultimately impersonal figures that are often presented to us. Even tolls on people displaced and killed remain just that-disquieting but faceless numbers.
Our exhibit, co-organized by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities headed by Red Constantino, hopes to respond to this fundamental gap in our ability to see a more complete picture of the threats climate change pose on our people.
These numbers represent hopes and dreams that are hindered or sometimes fully lost. These numbers have faces that bear stories of everyday heroism and courage.
I think 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 is not something that is simply visible. It does not simply appear. 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.
One significant step our country can take towards climate change resiliency is passing the People’s Survival Fund Bill, which Senate President Enrile principally authored. The bill intends to create a special trust fund that would finance adaptation projects and programs for the most vulnerable among us, such as those whose portraits are found in this exhibit.
Ladies and gentlemen, 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.
I urge you all to listen to what these faces are trying to communicate to you.
Thank you.