Climate effects in the Philippines

It’s Raining!                                                                                                 March 18,2018

At last the rains have begun….maybe.  Although this is the time of year when they should come: Easter is the time for planting the primary maize crop for the year. But no-one is sure any more. I remember when I first came out here as a VSO in 1976 the farmers were saying, even then, that the climate was changing. They could no longer be confident the rains would come when they should. El Nino droughts were happening more frequently…every 3 to 4 years instead of 7 years, giving farmers no time to recover from one drought to the next.

The majority of the farmers in Damulog, Bukidnon on the island of Mindanao are very poor living on less than £2/day. Bukidnon is the 4th poorest Province in the Philippines. They borrow from the middle traders to buy the seed and other inputs they need to plant. The loan is usually two to three times the actual cost of the seeds etc but they have no choice and they are obligated to sell their harvest back to the trader they borrowed from… at a lower than market price.  Their collateral is their land.  If the rains fail…or come at the wrong time and the crop fails…and they can’t pay back the lender they will forfeit the land becoming day labourers and sliding deeper into poverty.

To make matters worse, despite the Philippines being the most typhoon prone country in the world, the island of Mindanao has always been typhoon free. That is why Del Monte made Bukidnon the site of its pineapple plantation when they moved their production from Hawaii in the 1930s later adding plantations of bananas and papaya…..that is until the last few years when super typhoon Haiyan and Bopha tracked further south than usual, devastating the eastern and northern seaboards of Mindanao causing massive destruction. In the past few months tropical storm Temba battered Marawi which is still recovering from a 5-month siege by ISIS inspired extremists. Evacuation centres were flooded and landslides washed houses and people away with the loss of over 120 lives.   Mindanao can no longer claim to be typhoon free.  Everything changes.

Climate change is affecting the poorest the most. Land is being concentrated in fewer and fewer families as the changing weather creates increased risk of crop failure and uncertainty. With little future on the land the young are moving to the coastal cities where they join the vast numbers squatting along the rivers and coastal margins and as storms and rising seas create increased flooding their lives become increasingly precarious.

In a very small way MuCAARD* teams are trying to help.

It has been a busy couple of months visiting MuCAARD member teams. Some of you may have seen the photos on the MuCAARD-UK Facebook page of the work of COSEED reforesting the mangroves,  protecting the coastline from tsunamis and helping farmers redeem their land through a Land Redemption programme we support. We met 4 of the beneficiaries of this programme and they all told us how this programme has given them hope that they will, once again, benefit from the harvest of their land.

Just one story:

Reminda Tingson: widow, 4 children

In 2007 her child working in Manila and was emergency admitted to hospital with meningitis.

Cost of hospitalization:  Php 100,000  (£1400 or more than her annual income)

She borrowed or ‘Prenda’ Php45,000 using 2has. of coconuts as collateral with no time limit to repay.

Prenda means: 100% of the income from the coconuts goes to the lender

     Loan has to be paid in full in a single payment

In 2014 Reminda approached CoSEED for help to buy back her land but they had no funds at that time.  But it made them realise the extent of this problem. They sent a proposal to MuCAARD-UK and we were able to give a small grant.

In 2016 CoSEED gave her the Php45,000 to repay the loan and a formal agreement signed agreeing that:

25% of the harvest retained by Reminda

25% towards repayment of the loan

10% to hire individual to monitor the coconuts

15% Federation of CoSEED Community Organisation to build up capital for projects

25% CoSEED staff /office costs and expand programmes

Net income from first harvest: Php 5833.30 of which Php2916.66 is down payment on loan. Coconuts are harvested 3x pa. This means that in less than 6 years the loan will have repaid.  Reminda has been unable to pay it off over the past 12 years because the lenders will only accept it as a lump sum.

Over the past 12 years she has earnt money from taking in sewing selling slipper and bags.

Now Reminda is helping one of her children to buy a small house and has small capital to start up a dried fish business.

MuCAARD-UK has supported this project for the past 3 years.

BUT THEN….Romy got a small wound on his lower leg and ignored it until a temperature of 39.7c meant emergency admission to a hospital with cellulitis, for 4 days of intravenous antibiotics.  Two weeks later he’s much better, still taking medicines, but slowly building up his energy and getting mobile again.  Maybe now he’ll be more careful of his diet as being borderline diabetic means he can’t eat as many bananas as he likes!

I have been helping out the MuCAARD staff responding to the ongoing crisis in Marawi.  Romy, when he hasn’t been in hospital, has been spreading the word about the BISAP PuLPuG/GRACE health scheme. One village organised a meeting at which over 850 people came. The programme has now been officially adopted by the local officials and will begin operating in the next few months.

In the meantime my okra plants are flowering, tomatoes are growing and beans have been planted. May the rains continue!



*MuCAARD is a Christian/Muslim charity doing a tree planting programme

Journey to the Sami in the Artic lands

Back home in the UK .. sat in the travel lodge preparing for my journey to Manchester.. I’m feeling exhilarated… and also slightly reluctant to let go of the arctic images in my head.. of the silence and stillness of the snow .. sitting by fires next to frozen lakes. The deep ice plunge of my naked body beneath freezing waters… the excitement of seeing reindeer and the joy of the dogsled ride..The privilege of listening to a wise Sami Elder share stories of her culture and the use of herbs.. I am also aware of the sadness I feel hearing first hand from the Sami of the past suppression of their language, their songs and Spirituality, the burning of their drums a way no different than other indigenous culture to enable governments and corporations to mindlessly exploit and desecrate lands.. mine and log ancient forests .. Whilst they are now able to reclaim and remember their culture .. wisdom and language, they are still fighting against yet more destructive mining …I felt some solidarity in our fight to protect our land from fracking here in the U.K. In fact I feel so mind blown by my time there it’s going to take a long time to process x
Edwina Staniforth

Wild woman Herbalist


Calendar for United Resistance events

Maple Farm Community Hub  is a space set aside for local residents and visitors who want to find out more about the resistance to the development of gasfields in the UK. The Hub with it’s kitchen, toilets, communal spaces and information areas, offers the ideal opportunity to interact with those who are taking action to stop the progress of the fracking industry. You can collect information sheets and leaflets, find merchandise, ask questions, share knowledge or simply pop in for a cuppa and see what unfolds.

There are camping sites available for those wanting to stay.

April 23-28 #NFIF week

Every morning our No Faith in Fracking procession will leave Maple Farm at 10am to walk the mile to the gates of the Cuadrilla fracking site where our programme will begin. Most days are a mixture of different groups and faiths.

At 5.30pm we will again gather ourselves to return to Maple Farm for food and companionship before departing. 

Outline of Programme


Buddhist chanting and guided meditation, Christian Celtic care of Creation and Earth care ritual


Interfaith day, with walking and guided meditation by the gates, a silent vigil, readings and singing in the afternoon.


Women’s call for calm (regular walk and silence followed by songs). Followed by interfaith day with Catholic liturgy, prayers and hymns. In the afternoon a talk about the effects of climate change and walking meditation led by the Community of Interbeing.


Earth Day, with walking and guided meditations, readings and silent vigil in the after- noon. Evening workshop with Christian Climate Action at Maple Farm


8.15 – 9.45 Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement –  ‘Remembering Reconnecting and Refuelling’ workshop at Maple Farm
Description: Through a variety of practices you will be invited to remember and reconnect with what moved you to engage in the
action you are now taking. Sharing this with others and hearing others share their own motivations can help provide the inspiration and
emotional fuel necessary for sustained action on this vital issue.
10.00 Slow procession to the gates 11.00 Earth Agape’ Liturgy led by Father Martin Newell – Christian Climate Action and Faith & Resistance Network

12.30 lunch at gates 13.00 DANCE (Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement)

group ritual. 14.00 Quaker -led vigil (1hr later than usual gathering) 

followed by Earth and spirit poetry and readings, Songs of Hope

Shared Closing Circle & Sharing of Blessings – Chance to bring together all the groups Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement/ Christian Climate Network/ Faith & Resistance Network/ Quakers

Saturday – at the gates tbc.

right side fence group

Saturday at Maple Farm Community Hub

Wiccan Wellbeing day 10.00 – 16.00

With BELTANE FULL MOON BLESSINGS Just share our good energies for a frack-free planet! 10am Welcome! Opening circle for elemental connections 10.30 Angel oracle cards: Annie Rose will share how using angel cards helps the life journey 11.30 My journey with Ayahuasca: Seeing in the world in 3 dimensions, by Jane 12.00 Yoga practise: Simple exercises with Simone 12.30 Naturopathic nutritional therapy: Eat well with Ruth

13.00 Light lunch provided plus bring and share to Relax and chat over creative projects 14.00 Guided meditation creating the world you want to live in: Explore dragon energy connections with holistic healer Ann Singleton 15.00 Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World Joanna Macy on ways the work does itself with return to real awareness: Jewel 16.00 Closing ceremony of potentials for gratitude and appreciation


Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

‘The world doesn’t belong to leaders. The world belongs to all humanity.’  

Dalai Lama

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton