Small things done are better than big things planned, a 34-year-old climate change activist believes.
After nearly five years of working in communities before getting involved in a global project, Rodne Galicha is returning to his home island of Sibuyan in Romblon with a little book that sums up his thoughts on emerging environment issues.
“We are Nature” is a compilation of 15 essays and news articles on environmental issues. The 2×2-inch book of 178 pages was launched on Sept. 7.
“It’s a how-to-do-it guidebook, yes, but put into context the way I saw it with my own eyes and own experiences,” Galicha said in a phone interview while he was in Sibuyan for a five-day climate-proofing seminar on the island’s land-use plan.
“I really wanted it small and handy so people could carry it in their pockets, share and spread its message easily,” he said.
A philosophy graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, Galicha spent most of his early years in San Fernando town close to the great Mt. Guiting-Guiting range that cuts across Sibuyan. Scientists often refer to the island as the Galapagos of Asia because of its unique set of flora and fauna that makes up the densest forest in the world.
Galicha’s active opposition to mining as director of the nongovernment Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment (Sibuyan ISLE) was stoked by the death of a fellow advocate, Armin Marin, on Oct. 3, 2007.
“I found myself riding in a tricycle within Ateneo de Manila University campus heading out to Katipunan Avenue (Quezon City)—in silence. Suddenly I noticed tears began to flow from (my) eyes,” the environmentalist wrote about Marin’s death.
“He was killed by an armed mining security officer while leading a protest against a research activity funded by a mining company. He was infuriated by the fact that mining conglomerate dummies were given special license to cut some 70,000 trees …,” Galicha said.
In the book, he went on with his own and others’ plight to protect the environment. He cited the 2012 massacre of the Capion family, which opposed the Tampakan Copper-Gold project, and the attempt on the life of environmentalist Dr. Isidro Olan in Surigao del Sur.
“Since year 2007, there are more than 30 environment activists who were murdered, almost all have been receiving threats and being harassed,” he wrote. “With the blood of those who died for the environment, environment defenders become warriors. I am afraid, yes, we are becoming an endangered species.”
After years of leading antimining protests elsewhere as part of Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance to Stop Mining), Galicha plans to focus on his work in Sibuyan ISLE. He will continue to serve as the Philippines’ district manager of The Climate Reality Project, founded by former US Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore.
With the book, it is Galicha’s wish “for people to realize that we are, and everything we are made of, comes from nature. It is one, if not the only, solution to the overutilization and the rapid depletion of resources.”
The young green warrior also has a message to state leaders as highlighted in the chapter titled: “Mutant candidates in the making.”
“Ecological crisis,” Galicha wrote, “is the worst type the country faces.”—Maricar Cinco