As a tropical country, the Philippines suffers from increased rainfall and flooding events attributed to rising temperatures. Every year, an average 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine area, with about eight or nine crossing the Philippines during the peak season between July through October (PAGASA, 2021).
Typhoons in the Philippines are becoming more intense and unpredictable. Typhoon Rolly, the superstorm that hit the southern part of Luzon on October 30, 2020, killed at least 25 people and damaged homes and infrastructure in the amount that exceeds US$200 thousand (Board, 2020).
Presently we are still coping with the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully, with the vaccines currently being rolled out worldwide, we are at the tail-end of this global adversity and will soon come out alright on the other side of it.
Post-pandemic, another pressing issue will again come to the fore – Climate Change.
In the Philippines, climate change is a real threat. The country is considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change effects. Increasing rainfall, intensifying typhoons, and the resulting floods are also giving rise to the risks of vector-borne diseases like dengue and flood-borne diseases like leptospirosis (Tagupa, 2021).
Then there are other climate-related health risks from droughts and low-water supply, respiratory problems from air pollution, injuries that can arise from extreme weather events, and illness that spreads in evacuation centres during disasters. People who have underlying health conditions, low-income, and those who live in remote areas with no immediate access to health services are those who are most vulnerable to health risks posed by climate change (Tagupa, 2021).
A study of Harvard university’s humanitarian research centre looked at how Filipinos perceive climate change and how it can affect their lives and livelihood. A Philstar article published the summary findings of the study. According to the report, 7 out of 10 Filipinos “expressed concern they will be affected by the impacts of climate change despite having a low level of awareness on the issue” (Cabico, 2020).
They believe that climate change will affect their crops, damage their households and properties, affect their farming practices and alter their livelihoods.
Regarding the health impacts of climate change, residents in Metro Manila, the Philippines’ most populous city, are the most concerned about climate change’s health impacts. Those living in Eastern Visayas, a region most prone to cyclones, are worried about rising temperatures on farming and their households.
To build climate resilience in Filipinos, the government provided training programs for evacuation drills, emergency food and supplies storage, preparing homes for disasters, preparing emergency kits, and monitoring the weather. Likely participants of these training are those who have previous disaster experiences, with higher education, and in good health.
In terms of awareness of climate change, 60% of respondents said that they are not aware and not well informed of climate change, 12% expressed that they are “extremely well-informed”.
Thirty-two per cent believed that climate change is caused by human activity, and 20% thinks it caused by natural processes.
Filipinos feel that the following factors will amplify climate change – deforestation, increased poverty, inadequate waste disposal, population increase, and poor infrastructure.