August 8, 2022

The embassy of Spain, Instituto Cervantes, AECID, and UN-OCHA collaborate on an exhibit that sounds alarm bells on climate change

IMAGES OF DESTRUCTION The exhibit paints a clear picture of the tragedy and wreckage caused by Typhoon Rai

As most of Western Europe grapples with a heatwave, the Philippines remembers yet another typhoon that ravaged our islands. While they are not really identical phenomena, as one brings extreme warmth while the other one carries an excess of rain and destructive winds, both are symptoms of a planet that just keeps getting warmer and warmer. Living in a tropical country, Filipinos are used to typhoons but that doesn’t mean we’re ready for them to get stronger, more damaging, especially as an average of 20 typhoons visit the Philippines every year.

A photo exhibition opened this week at the Instituto Cervantes in Manila, showing the devastation and the response to Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) after it ravaged 11 of the country’s 17 regions close to Christmas in 2021. Siargao, one of the country’s best surfing spots, whose inhabitants are known to lead an eco-friendly way of life, was flattened. Fifteen people died on the island alone, leaving families in a state of sadness and shock. Their island, after all, wasn’t normally in the path of strong typhoons.

REBUILDING TOGETHER From left: Instituto Cervantes director Javier Galvan, Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Moragas, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) deputy assistant secretary for the Office of United Nations (UN) and International Organizations Noemi Diaz, and UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez

The exhibit features a lump of typhoon debris on the gallery floor, a mix of destroyed vegetation and human possessions one can easily lose during such a calamity. A sleeping mat, thick tree branches, and someone’s personal belongings are strewn on the floor. It gives the uncomfortable feeling of guilt and worry over who will have to clean up after such damage. How does one rebuild?

Yet rebuild, Filipinos must. Every single time. This, despite being a country that has one of the lowest carbon emissions per capita.

ON A MISSION Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Moragas (left) and UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez

Hosted by the embassy of Spain, Instituto Cervantes, and Spain’s international development arm (AECID) and coordinated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on behalf of the humanitarian community, the exhibit runs until Aug. 20, a day after World Humanitarian Day.

UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez gave an assurance that efforts in the affected areas would continue “to ensure that progress made in the last six months is not rolled back.”

THE AFTERMATH In the middle of the photo gallery is a statement piece that features debris from Super Typhoon Odette

So far, shelter assistance has been provided to over 210,000 typhoon-affected households and 66,000 families have received kitchen items, sleeping kits, and lighting items. Over 1.2 million people have also received livelihood support, particularly for agriculture. There’s been progress but there’s more to be done. More shelter repair kits are needed. Citing a recent UN-OCHA report, Gonzalez shared that damaged homes are still at 2.1 million and 3,000 people are still displaced in five regions.

The exhibit shows photos of disaster response during various stages of relief operations. The photos, arranged like waves on the walls of the gallery, also seem to depict the ebb and flow of the world’s attention and the intensity of the response to a ravaged community’s needs. Gonzales added that while long-term and sustained recovery will be the focus of support to the government until the end of the year, the humanitarian community will reinforce measures to strengthen preparedness and build resilience against future calamities.

THE WORLD AS ONE Representatives of embassies and international organizations involved in the response and rebuilding efforts after Typhoon Odette

“As nations continue to address the different impacts of the global pandemic, the reality is several hazards may strike at once,” Gonzales said. “The Philippines has already experienced responding to catastrophes in a Covid-19 crisis scenario, amid difficult access to resources due to the war in Ukraine. This is forcing all of us to change the way operations are being conducted.”

Some scientists argue that it is too late, but is there anything we can do to make a dent in the efforts to stop climate change?

Instituto Cervantes director Javier Galvan and Ambassador Jorge Moragas of Spain also spoke at the exhibit opening. The event might just be the Spanish ambassador’s last official engagement as he ends his tour of duty in the Philippines. He expressed admiration for the collective efforts of the humanitarian community and his hopes for the continued improvement of the situation.        

It’s been reported that only 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions. Some scientists even argue that it’s already too late. While systemic change is now the only way we can make a dent in the situation and, with hope, stop a catastrophe, subtle changes in our own lifestyles wouldn’t hurt. We must walk the talk by keeping companies and governments accountable while contributing to the efforts ourselves.


The embassy of Spain, Instituto Cervantes, AECID, and UN-OCHA collaborate on an exhibit that sounds alarm bells on climate change

IMAGES OF DESTRUCTION The exhibit paints a clear picture of the tragedy and wreckage caused by Typhoon Rai

As most of Western Europe grapples with a heatwave, the Philippines remembers yet another typhoon that ravaged our islands. While they are not really identical phenomena, as one brings extreme warmth while the other one carries an excess of rain and destructive winds, both are symptoms of a planet that just keeps getting warmer and warmer. Living in a tropical country, Filipinos are used to typhoons but that doesn’t mean we’re ready for them to get stronger, more damaging, especially as an average of 20 typhoons visit the Philippines every year.

A photo exhibition opened this week at the Instituto Cervantes in Manila, showing the devastation and the response to Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) after it ravaged 11 of the country’s 17 regions close to Christmas in 2021. Siargao, one of the country’s best surfing spots, whose inhabitants are known to lead an eco-friendly way of life, was flattened. Fifteen people died on the island alone, leaving families in a state of sadness and shock. Their island, after all, wasn’t normally in the path of strong typhoons.

REBUILDING TOGETHER From left: Instituto Cervantes director Javier Galvan, Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Moragas, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) deputy assistant secretary for the Office of United Nations (UN) and International Organizations Noemi Diaz, and UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez

The exhibit features a lump of typhoon debris on the gallery floor, a mix of destroyed vegetation and human possessions one can easily lose during such a calamity. A sleeping mat, thick tree branches, and someone’s personal belongings are strewn on the floor. It gives the uncomfortable feeling of guilt and worry over who will have to clean up after such damage. How does one rebuild?

Yet rebuild, Filipinos must. Every single time. This, despite being a country that has one of the lowest carbon emissions per capita.

ON A MISSION Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Moragas (left) and UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez

Hosted by the embassy of Spain, Instituto Cervantes, and Spain’s international development arm (AECID) and coordinated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on behalf of the humanitarian community, the exhibit runs until Aug. 20, a day after World Humanitarian Day.

UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez gave an assurance that efforts in the affected areas would continue “to ensure that progress made in the last six months is not rolled back.”

THE AFTERMATH In the middle of the photo gallery is a statement piece that features debris from Super Typhoon Odette

So far, shelter assistance has been provided to over 210,000 typhoon-affected households and 66,000 families have received kitchen items, sleeping kits, and lighting items. Over 1.2 million people have also received livelihood support, particularly for agriculture. There’s been progress but there’s more to be done. More shelter repair kits are needed. Citing a recent UN-OCHA report, Gonzalez shared that damaged homes are still at 2.1 million and 3,000 people are still displaced in five regions.

The exhibit shows photos of disaster response during various stages of relief operations. The photos, arranged like waves on the walls of the gallery, also seem to depict the ebb and flow of the world’s attention and the intensity of the response to a ravaged community’s needs. Gonzales added that while long-term and sustained recovery will be the focus of support to the government until the end of the year, the humanitarian community will reinforce measures to strengthen preparedness and build resilience against future calamities.

THE WORLD AS ONE Representatives of embassies and international organizations involved in the response and rebuilding efforts after Typhoon Odette

“As nations continue to address the different impacts of the global pandemic, the reality is several hazards may strike at once,” Gonzales said. “The Philippines has already experienced responding to catastrophes in a Covid-19 crisis scenario, amid difficult access to resources due to the war in Ukraine. This is forcing all of us to change the way operations are being conducted.”

Some scientists argue that it is too late, but is there anything we can do to make a dent in the efforts to stop climate change?

Instituto Cervantes director Javier Galvan and Ambassador Jorge Moragas of Spain also spoke at the exhibit opening. The event might just be the Spanish ambassador’s last official engagement as he ends his tour of duty in the Philippines. He expressed admiration for the collective efforts of the humanitarian community and his hopes for the continued improvement of the situation.        

It’s been reported that only 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions. Some scientists even argue that it’s already too late. While systemic change is now the only way we can make a dent in the situation and, with hope, stop a catastrophe, subtle changes in our own lifestyles wouldn’t hurt. We must walk the talk by keeping companies and governments accountable while contributing to the efforts ourselves.

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