As Earth month draws to a close, youth advocates and environmentalists joined together to paint a 25-meter mural calling for urgent action on environmental and climate problems today, particularly those faced by the biodiversity hotspot known as the Verde Island Passage (VIP), and reminding fellow Batangueños to use the upcoming election to shape a government that will do their part in protecting VIP.
Housing over 60% of all known marine shore fish species in the world and thousands of other kinds of sea creatures, VIP is known as the center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity in the world. The biodiversity hotspot unfortunately faces many threats, including climate change, pollution, and looming destruction from a fleet of new proposed fossil fuel projects in Batangas - a matter that citizens and government leaders alike should address, according to the youth of ECOSILAK - Youth for VIP.
“As the election nears, we hope voters and candidates running for public service positions alike will be reminded of our common duty to protect the precious biodiversity of VIP and treat the climate crisis like the emergency that it is. There must be no space for dirty energy in the governance of our next leaders here or in the Philippines. We, the youth, call on all voters to vote for sustainable leadership and governance centered on people and the environment. Let us use our votes to protect VIP," said TJ Alcantara, co-convenor of the group.
With this mural, the youth are bringing the VIP to Batangas City in hopes it can help raise awareness, especially among other youth, on the importance of VIP, the marine life in it and the many gifts it provides, and the threats that it also sadly faces.
“Pinapakita namin na ang kapangyarihan ng kabataan ay isang malaking weapon sa community. Youth can bring great impact and changes to our community. Ang mural na ito ay hindi lang basta mural, magkakasama kami dito bilang kabataan na kumikilos para makapagbigay ng awareness sa dapat pangalagaan natin na VIP,” said Hanna Mazo of ECOSILAK-Youth for VIP.
Already home to five operating fossil gas power plants, Batangas is also the site of 8 new fossil gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and 7 new LNG terminals - a predicament that places marine life in VIP in peril.
“Just in time for this mural painting initiative, there is news of an outbreak of the coral-eating crown of thorns starfish in Batangas - a situation brought about by disturbances in natural marine life systems, increasing sea temperatures, and other climate impacts. The whole fleet of fossil gas and LNG projects proposed in Batangas - the pollution they will bring, increased shipping activities, and other impacts - will trigger even worse scenarios, and will gravely hurt local livelihoods that are dependent on the health of VIP,” said Avril De Torres, Research, Policy, and Law Program Head of think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development.
The youth advocates are joined by other environmental advocates, including renowned climate activist and muralist AG Saño.
“May matinding climate emergency, at mga scientists na ang nagsabi na we have just a few years to solve the problem. Panahon na para isulong natin ang clean energy, at kabataan ang concerned dahil kinabukasan nila ang haharap sa mas malalaking problema kung hindi natin magagampanan ito. Importante ang mural na ito at ang pagtitipon ng mga kabataan dahil dito nagsisimula ang adbokasiya, at magandang ginagamit nila ang art para sa usapin sa pag-alaga ng VIP. Laging may espasyo para sa kabataan na makilahok sa mga proseso ng pagbibigay ng solusyon, at hinihikayat natin sila na gamitin ang mga talento nila para ma-send across ang message sa mas maraming tao,” said Saño.
[There is a grave climate emergency, and scientists themselves say that we just have a few years to solve the problem. It's time for us to advance clean energy, and it's the youth that are concerned because it is their future facing even bigger problems if we fait to do that. This mural and the coming together of youth are important because it's where the advocacy starts, and it's a good thing that they are using art to raise awareness on protecting VIP. There is always space for youth to take part in processes to create solutions [amid the climate crisis], and we encourage them to use their talents to send that message across to more people.]