MANILA, Philippines – Two young Filipinos won the recent CNN/YouTube Debates and their prize includes a free trip to Copenhagen, Denmark to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Paul Darwynn Garilao and Alfonso Orioste Jr., both graduates of De La Salle University (DLSU) in Manila, won the CNN contest a week after another Filipino, Efren Peñaflorida, was hailed as the CNN Hero of the Year.
Garilao and Orioste will be part of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) and attend the live debate sponsored by CNN and YouTube.
CNN news anchor Becky Anderson will host the live debate that would include leaders from 193 countries.
Out of 600 entries, another entry, Global Warming Project from Brazil, also made the cut. The online voting took place between Nov. 6 and 30.
“Once again, we have proven the bayanihan spirit online. Filipino consumers – wherever they are – massively voted for our video. Based on our count, more than 600 Facebook users linked the video and shared steps on how to vote. At least 12 bloggers also campaigned for the video and shared their thoughts on climate change,” Garilao said.
The organizations and networks that supported Peñaflorida were also the same groups who campaigned for their video. Definitely Filipino, an online organization with almost 400,000 Facebook members, also campaigned for both advocacies by gathering online votes.
DLSU president Brother Armin Luistro FSC, who is a passionate environmental advocate, had endorsed their video.
Students of the University of Santo Thomas (UST) recently watched the video during an environmental seminar in the school.
The six-minute amateur documentary discussed disaster management and the drive to shift to alternative energy.
They were motivated to join the contest after seeing the effects of typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng.”
Through this online campaign, the young Pinoys jumpstarted discussions that will serve as a springboard to raise awareness on climate change.
“We have to beat the climate change buzzer. The Philippines is currently the centerfold of climate change discussions because of the super typhoons that recently devastated us. Serving as the Filipino voice in Copenhagen, we will convince global leaders to include discussions on disaster preparedness programs. This will benefit not only the Philippines but also other countries prone to natural disasters,” said Garilao, a Filipino engineer and freelance journalist based in Hawaii.
Orioste, now a freshman law student at San Beda College, said: “There should be a stakeholder approach in dealing with disaster preparedness. Instead of becoming reactive, the government should be proactive. A close and efficient coordination with different sectors – both public and private – during calamities will help reduce the impacts of severe typhoons. We should take a leap in mobilizing not just relief efforts but also alarm systems before a natural disaster strikes.”
The two Filipino winners also asked world leaders to discuss ways to reduce carbon emissions that adversely affect the environment.
“The best step is to shift to using clean energy if countries want to reduce their emissions. This is a difficult transition but it is the best step to combat climate change. Samples of clean energy resources include solar panel, wind turbine, and biogas.”
The World Research Institute said the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions of the United States reached 29.3 percent, while the Philippines only accumulated .03 percent.
Garilao and Orioste also called on those running for local and national positions to prioritize climate change in their platforms. They would be sharing their key learning experiences with government officials, environmental organizations, and the private sector.
They also encouraged film aficionados to produce user-generated videos that would raise awareness on climate change. A few days before the online voting ended, three video makers from the Philippines also participated.
The COP15 channel said that those who want to raise their voices to the world leaders can still be part of the live debate by uploading their comments and questions about climate change. Submission is open until Dec. 14. –Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star)