DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The five-day Liwanag World Festival to open here on Tuesday will be the first major event in the country that will be carbon-neutral, according to festival director and former presidential aspirant Nicanor Perlas.
Perlas, founder of the Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives Organizing and Networking (Mission), the group at the forefront of the event, said holding a carbon-neutral event would be the group’s way of addressing the urgent challenge of climate adaptation, in the light of the extreme weather conditions that have recently been battering Mindanao.
“The era of destructive extreme weather events is upon us and it will escalate in the years to come,” said Perlas. “We have to contribute our modest share towards addressing the challenge of climate change; and designing a major event to be carbon-neutral and encouraging others to do the same, is one of them.”
Carbon-neutral means that festival organizers will offset the 77.41 tons of carbon dioxide to be emitted into the atmosphere during the event, by planting at least 3,140 trees, according to the computations of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office.
Perlas, once attracted to the idea of nuclear fission as a student, but who later became instrumental in the campaign for the mothballing of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) during the presidency of Cory Aquino, said the recent floods that swept through Davao City have highlighted the urgent need for action.
“Abnormal rains submerged many areas in the city, displacing over 39,000 people,” said Leonardo Avila, former chief of the City Agriculturist Office, a festival consultant.
“The torrential rain also hampered rehabilitation efforts in communities devastated by super typhoon Pablo,” he said.
Over 2,000 people are expected to join the unique world festival, the first of its kind in the Philippines to showcase brilliant initiatives already done in the aspect of the ecology, the economy, culture, political, societal and human fronts to solve pressing issues confronting the country, according to Perlas.
He said the five-day event, to be held at the Philippine Women’s College, would send a strong message that solutions to challenges confronting the country have started on the ground.
Avila said these “initiatives, taken together are the elements of the future world that is alive and growing amidst us,” he said.
The Liwanag World Festival highlights outstanding thinkers, doers, artists, and initiatives that help build sustainable societies. Among its speakers are Tony Meloto, a multi-awarded social entrepreneur behind the Gawad Kalinga housing project; Dylan Wilk, chief executive officer of Human Nature; Joey Ayala, world-renowned musician; Waway Saway, a Taalandig artist and musician from Bukidnon; Kublai Millan, an award-winning artist who created huge public monuments in over two dozen towns and cities of Mindanao; and Perlas, recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize. Over a hundred other artists have confirmed their participation.
The festival will showcase efforts in climate-change adaptation, according to Perlas. “There is another world and another Philippines emerging in the very midst of decay and pain,” Perlas said.
He said the festival would be a daily celebration of music (indigenous and diverse cultural expressions), art exhibits, artistic performances, organic food markets, parallel workshops, panel discussions, rituals, and a global conference. The workshops, discussions and conference will explore themes on social entrepreneurship, good governance, creativity and sustainable development, micro-finance, multiple intelligent education, socially engaged spirituality, the new science and leadership, and many other themes.
Among the initiatives that will be showcased in the aspect of governance is the “Character First Movement” initiated by Bayawan City in Negros Oriental. Character First Movement would seek to reform characters of business and political leaders to make them worthy of their roles, Perlas said.
Liwanag organizers believe that climate adaptation means not just to be more knowledgeable of weather and climate patterns but also requires converging this wisdom with how we structure our economy, how we govern ourselves, how we consume, and whether or not our lifestyle is climate-friendly.
“This is the reason why Liwanag’s program is designed to encourage a deeper and more systemic approach to societal challenges like climate change,” said Shiela Castillo-Tiangco, climate change specialist with Liwanag and a climate change presenter for The Climate Reality Project of Al Gore, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace and former vice president of the United States of America.