Category: News

‘Agam’ sparks conversation on climate change

Originally published in GMA News Online

Acclaimed book ‘Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change’ last week reached a new audience as the authors featured on its pages convened to help relaunch the collection at Mt. Cloud Bookshop, Casa Vallejo in Baguio.

The bookshop’s co-owner Padmapani Perez, a poet and an anthropologist, wrote one of the 24 literary pieces featured in the book.

‘Agam’, first published in 2014, is a pioneering anthology of stories about climate change. Portraits by Jose Enrique Soriano taken in Tacloban — devastated by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013 — put a face to the narratives told in eight different Filipino languages (Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano, Waray, Maguindanao, Bikol, Sinama and English).

The stories do not discuss the science of climate change, but instead presents its effects in varying degrees on daily life. Bringing the book and the discussion to Baguio was only fitting, as the city has weathered a number of storms.

“Baguio is a disaster-prone city. Both history and science confirm this. We’re hoping that getting people together to talk about a book like ‘Agam’ will encourage locals to assert the value of their own experiences of coping with and surviving typhoons, earthquakes, closed roads, dwindling food and water supplies, and the losses that come with the disaster,” Perez said.

“Without meaning to draw a doomsday picture for Baguio, we want to say that giving value to human experience—writing about it, speaking about it, listening to it—will be so important in facing the challenges that climate change will bring,” she added.

Joining her during the launch were Ramon Sunico, a National Fellow for Poetry at the University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center; Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities; and Romulo Baquiran Jr., professor of the University of the Philippines College of Arts and Letters.

“Climate change affects all Filipinos and it is urgent that each of us finds our own voice and uses it. This is a key message that Agam seeks to deliver, that the poetry of our hopes to survive and thrive in the midst of this crisis can help carve out a path forward for the country,” Constantino asserted.

‘Agam’ was published by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities. It has won a National Book Award from the National Book Development Association in 2015 as well as two Gintong Aklat awards in 2016 for Literature in English and Book Design. — TJD, GMA News

In Pursuit of Powerful Words

Blog by Isabella Mendoza
Executive Assistant/Agam Coordinator

Last April 24 – 26, the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center (BNSCWC) hosted the17th annual Iyas La Salle National Writers’ Workshop at the Henry Sy Sr. Building of De La Salle, Manila. This year, the organizers and panelists chose to pay particular attention to environment and ecocentric or eco-critical writing with the theme of “Writing, the Environment and Creation Advocacy”. 10 lucky fellows, from applicants all over the Philippines, and 5 panelists gathered in the halls of De La Salle to discuss in minute detail the intricacies and beauty of written word and the messages that lie behind them.

ICSC was one of the patrons for this year’s workshop and Agam was featured as an example and inspiration for writers to ponder and chew on the possibilities that only literature can open in the world of environment, science and even politics. As the first anthology on climate change, Agam served as a concrete example of local literature in eco-critical writing, as was alluded to in their discussions over the three days. Since publishing Agam, ICSC has been vigilant in continuing to share the message and value of Agam aspiring writers, artists and educators — a feat that has been made more fruitful with the company and insight of other Agam authors and poets. Three of whom were among the panelists for the workshop, Dr. Grace Monte de Ramos, Mr. Ricardo de Ungria and Iyas’ director, Dr. Marjorie Evasco.

I had the rare opportunity of sitting in and observing the first and last day of the workshop. During their sessions they would tease out every artistic, and literary detail of the manuscripts written by the fellows. They covered topics from zombies and deities, to native language and metaphors, and even feminism and post-modernism. Each discussion was as humorous and dynamic as they were intensive. At the root of it all, they always circled back to how they could hone their skills to turn their words and stories into powerful messages of advocacy.

The workshop ended with a few words from Red Constantino in his experience as both a published writer and a climate advocate and campaigner. His short but provocative discussion urged writers to not only continue to hone their writing skills but to challenge themselves to find and fill the gap in the world of science that has often lacked the creativity and hope that only the world of letters can provide. Needless to say the entire three day workshop left the fellows and panelists reflecting on the the role of artists and writers through the pages of their manuscripts.

Agam is merely the beginning of a growing wave of literary anthologies, narratives and poetry that are attempting to break into the world of climate, science and environment. I also learned that there are a couple of ecocentric anthologies in the works to be published in the coming years, including a second edition of Agam.

Agam is now available in Fully Booked Alabang Town Center, Greenbelt 5, Rockwell, Century Mall and BGC High Street for Php 1,600.00 per copy.

Valor: An Evening of Culture and Camaraderie

Opening Remarks by Renato Redentor Constantino
Managing Director, Constantino Foundation
April 9, 2017

Our elders are currently elsewhere on a much-deserved break. So, in behalf of RC and Dudi, who are at the moment in Sri Lanka, and in behalf of Nina and Randy who are in Europe right now with their children and grandkids, I welcome you all to this fine event, in behalf of the Constantino Foundation and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities. Thank you for finding time to share the gift of music and words, in memory of Letizia Constantino, or Dada Ming, to her grandchildren. Thank you for gracing this occasion co-organised as well by ICSC, which is manned by some of the country’s brightest, goofiest fierce folks working on climate and energy policy.

This event is titled Valor for a number of reasons. Certainly, it echoes Araw ng Kagitingan, or as some call it, Bataan Day. But as Tato and Letty taught early, we mark the day more in recognition of Filipino revolutionaries who fought to throw off the foreign yoke, in particular Japanese fascists, rather than simply fight under the banner of, or fight for the return of, US imperial forces.

Letizia, who passed away last year, would have turned 97 today. And it is her life that we mark today, because by celebrating her example, we likewise celebrate our ability to rise up against ignorance and mediocre leadership and the twin tyrannies of consumption and accumulation.

Letty and Tato, as our grandparents were known to friends, lived thoroughly partisan lives. They were active politically, through scholarship and pedagogical work, and their personal lives spoke as well about their view of the liberated, decolonised Filipino: they were omnivores of the humanities and the arts, which always intersected with their profound commitment to analyse and influence the political, economic, cultural and social trajectories of the Philippines.

The nationalism Tato and Letty promoted was vibrant and dynamic, driven by the goal of pursuing long-term social, economic and national democracy, based on ever changing global and country realities. Their embrace of nationalism was marked by an abiding faith in the role of history, particularly the dialectics of Philippine history, in emancipating current thinking from the shackles of neocolonial, misogynist, and anthropocentric consciousness.

Their promotion of nationhood, in this sense, is thus linked to the revolutionary movements of the past that sought not just to repel foreign occupiers but also to elevate the cause of working class kaguinhawaan, which was already a solid, tangible program of action among Katipunan revolutionaries way over a century ago. Today, we are compelled to act based on the same yardsticks of development. We need to measure the notion of ginhawa not by the dictates of our current economic system, which seeks to confine our ability to reproduce based on the act of purchase. Instead, we need to promote more and more the concept of ginhawa based on its original revolutionary premise: a depth and breadth of wellbeing that celebrates diversity and is enjoyed first and foremost by the poor and the most vulnerable among them – women and children – in a way that secures intergenerational equity. Because our ability to advance today must not injure the capacity of generations that will come after us to enjoy happy, safe and meaningful lives.

This is also why our event’s title is Valor. We face today the most serious crisis in global and national history. Climate change is bigger than everything, and it is time we all act with a sense of urgency that our period requires, using everything we have – brilliant strategies, perseverance, tolerance, a renewable sense of humor, a capacious sense of anger, an even greater store of love, and yes, music and literature, food and wine and, for today, one of the best beers you’ll encounter in the world, called Beer No. 1, courtesy of friends from Boondocks Brewing in Cubao.

There is a note written by the intellectual Walter Benjamin in 1929 from Berlin where he tells a friend of his about a new friend he just met. “I have had some noteworthy acquaintances,” said Benjamin, referring to Bertolt Brecht. His letter reminds me of a good friend of mine, Viking Logarta, who helped me bring the magic of IPAV’s music here today. I recall Benjamin’s note not because I think Viking was born in 1929 (in fact Viking is 450 years old), but because Benjamin’s letter reminds me of the intergenerational generosity of family and friends. Viking was a friend and comrade of Letty and Tato, and my parents RC and Dudi, and he is now an esteemed colleague of mine, as well as a friend to Kala and Ninel, and Karmina, who I want to thank for ensuring our setting has the right grace, reflective of Dada Ming’s sensibilities.

You should have the program with you by now, and it should show you a full repertoire of songs and a reading from the world’s first literary anthology on climate change, Agam, by the esteemed author Marj Evasco.

Before I call on the first performer, I want to draw your attention to some upcoming activities by the Constantino Foundation: I can’t disclose yet the final venue, as we are still in negotiations, but in September this year, please expect the Constantino Murals to be on public display in Quezon City. One is currently installed in the Ospital ng Makati in Pembo, and the other is in the old San Juan City Hall. Very few know the murals. They are astounding works, made by some of the country’s top painters in 2007 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the hanging of Macario Sakay and 20th anniverssary of the assassination of Lean Alejandro.

We asked the painters to create the murals with two rules in mind. First, although the activity was being undertaken to remember Sakay and Lean, we said we did not want the paintings to be about the two, where they appear exalted above everyone. We said Lean and Sakay are considered heroes because they were ordinary Filipinos who rose above their limitations in a period of crisis that demanded leadership from everyone. Second, we said we did not want militant murals. Instead, we want subversive paintings, the kind that goes under the skin of viewers.

So you can catch the murals today in those two places, but expect them to be closer to you by September. We will also publish a book on the Constantino Murals, and two of their contributors are here today, the country’s first woman editor-in-chief as the hepe of Malaya, who was a giant when I first met her and who is still a giant to me today, Chuchay Molina Fernandez. She is joined by the writer, editor, fountain pen connoiseur, and fellow cyclist, Boojie Basilio, known to some as Bertong Badtrip but who is considered by his very good friends (I consider myself one of them) as a cupcake.

The book they are making will be published same time next year, together with Letizia: A Life in Letters.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to present to you the first performer for today, Roniel Santos, who studied classical guitar at UP Diliman and who has received a whole lot of distinctions for his craft, most recently the 1st prize at the Trattoria Poggio Antico Guitar Competition in 2014.

Editor’s Note: The Institute for Climate & Sustainable Cities and The Constantino Foundation in cooperation with Independent Philippine Art Ventures, Inc. hosted the event Valor, in honor of Letizia Constantino’s 97th birth anniversary. The event featured a reading by Dr. Marjorie Evasco of her contribution to the climate anthology ‘Agam’, as well as classical guitar performances from Roneil Santos, Aaron Aguila and Marga and Thibauld Momper of Duo Harmonique.

Cebu lit fest fetes authors of award-winning climate change book

Originally published by the Philippine Information Agency

CEBU, Feb. 16 – Three contributors of the critically-acclaimed anthology Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change were featured in the environment-themed literary arts competition of the University of San Carlos (USC).

Renowned writers Grace Monte de Ramos, Marjorie Evasco, and Padmapani Perez held a reading of the students’ poetry entries during the Green Literary-Arts Fest of USC’s Talamban campus. They also facilitated a poetry workshop and share excerpts from their English and Cebuano pieces on climate change which were featured on Agam.

Agam is a collection of 26 images and 24 literary pieces written in eight different Filipino languages: Tagalog, Cebuano, Waray, Maguindanao, Bikol, Ilocano, Sinama, and English. Each piece tells the story of climate change without scientific jargon.

The anthology was published in 2014 by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities [2] and has since been launched in Manila, Tacloban, Massachusetts, Denver, Washington, and Berlin. It has won a National Book Award from the National Book Development Association in 2015, as well as two Gintong Aklat awards in 2016 for Literature in English and Book Design. It was also featured in the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair.

New York-based English professor Jeffrey Santa Ana will also be presenting next month his essay featuring Agam, which will be published in a book entitled South East Asian Ecocentrism. Joi Barrios is organizing the event in University of California, Berkeley.

Agam is available in National Bookstore and PowerBooks, and can soon be purchased at Fully Booked and Amazon. All sales proceeds will go to RE-Charge Philippines, ICSC’s Tacloban-based project which trains Haiyan survivors to become solar kit technicians and disaster responders.

Narratives on climate change wins 2 Golden Book awards

Originally published by The Philippine Information Agency

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) today received 2 Gintong Aklat (Golden Book) awards, one of the Philippines’ most prestigious book prizes, for Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change. The book won in the catergories of English Literature, and Design, where it was the lone finalist.

“Agam is a brilliantly produced book that is extremely relevant for our times,” declared Teresa Maria Custodio, Chair of the Board of Judges for 2016 Gintong Aklat Awards.

Agam is acclaimed internationally for original narratives by 24 Filipino writers on climate impacts in the Philippines, all written without the crutch of scientific and NGO jargon.

“This recognition from the literary world has strengthened the voice of Filipino climate survivors at the time when people around the world are demanding for aggressive climate action,” said Red Constantino, Executive Director of ICSC.

Agam is an early Filipino word for foreboding and memory. The book broke new ground with its collection of 24 narratives in the languages of Tagalog, Waray, Maguindanao, Bikol, Ilocano, Cebuano, Sinama and English. It also features 26 portraits taken by the photographer Jose Enrique Soriano.

The Gintong Aklat (Golden Book) Awards is organized by the Book Development Association of the Philippines and is held every 2 years. Agam is among 390 nominees this year.

Agam also won the 2015 National Book Award for Anthology in English by the National Book Development Board and was a finalist for Design last year.

Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change is the first commercial publication of ICSC and is available at branches of Powerbooks and National Bookstore throughout the country.

All proceeds from the sale of Agam goes to the RE-Charge project, an integrated solar and sustainable transport services and training facility in Tacloban City, one of the areas severely devastated areas by typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Book on climate change wins 2 Golden Book awards

Originally published in ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Climate policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) on Wednesday received two awards for its narrative on climate change.

The book, “Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change,” received the Gintong Aklat (Golden Book) award for English Literature and Design.

“Agam is a brilliantly produced book that is extremely relevant for our times,” declared Teresa Maria Custodio, chair of the board of judges for 2016 Gintong Aklat Awards.

“Agam” is also internationally acclaimed for its original narratives on climate impacts in the Philippines.

“This recognition from the literary world has strengthened the voice of Filipino climate survivors at the time when people around the world are demanding for aggressive climate action,” said Red Constantino, executive director of ICSC.

“Agam,” which in Filipino means “foreboding” and “memory,” broke new ground with its collection of 24 narratives in different languages, including Tagalog, Waray, Maguindanao, Bikol, Ilocano, Cebuano, Sinama and English.

The book also features 26 portraits taken by photographer Jose Enrique Soriano.

Organized by the Book Development Association of the Philippines, Gintong Aklat Awards is held every two years. “Agam” is among the 390 nominees this year.

Aside from the two Gintong Aklat awards, “Agam” was also named 2015 National Book Award for Anthology in English by the National Book Development Board.

Narratives on climate change wins 2 Golden Book awards

Manila, 14 Sept 2016 – The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) today received 2 Gintong Aklat (Golden Book) awards, one of the Philippines’ most prestigious book prizes, for Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change. The book won in the catergories of English Literature, and Design, where it was the lone finalist.

“Agam is a brilliantly produced book that is extremely relevant for our times,” declared Teresa Maria Custodio, Chair of the Board of Judges for 2016 Gintong Aklat Awards.

Agam is acclaimed internationally for original narratives by 24 Filipino writers on climate impacts in the Philippines, all written without the crutch of scientific and NGO jargon.

“This recognition from the literary world has strengthened the voice of Filipino climate survivors at the time when people around the world are demanding for aggressive climate action,” said Red Constantino, Executive Director of ICSC.

Agam is an early Filipino word for foreboding and memory. The book broke new ground with its collection of 24 narratives in the languages of Tagalog, Waray, Maguindanao, Bikol, Ilocano, Cebuano, Sinama and English. It also features 26 portraits taken by the photographer Jose Enrique Soriano.
The Gintong Aklat (Golden Book) Awards is organized by the Book Development Association of the Philippines and is held every 2 years. Agam is among 390 nominees this year.

Agam also won the 2015 National Book Award for Anthology in English by the National Book Development Board and was a finalist for Design last year.

Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change is the first commercial publication of ICSC and is available at branches of Powerbooks and National Bookstore throughout the country.

All proceeds from the sale of Agam goes to the RE-Charge project, an integrated solar and sustainable transport services and training facility in Tacloban City, one of the areas severely devastated areas by typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Climate change tome ‘Agam’ wins 2 Gintong Aklat awards at MIBF

The anthology Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change has won two Gintong Aklat books at this year’s Manila International Book Fair.

The book won in the categories of Design and English Literature.

The brainchild of Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) executive director Renato Redentor “Red” Constantino and Seafarer Asia editor-in-chief Regina Abuyuan, Agam is a collection of 24 fiction and non-fiction stories and poems about climate change and its effects.

The works were written in Sinama, Maguindanao, Bicolano, Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilocano, Waray (with English translations) and English by 24 contributors, and are accompanied by 26 images taken by photographer Jose Enrique Soriano.

An image from ‘Agam’. Photo: Jose Enrique Soriano

“’Agam’ is a brilliantly produced book that is extremely relevant for our times,” said Teresa Maria Custodio, Chair of the Board of Judges for the 2016 Gintong Aklat Awards.

The ICSC is a non-profit climate policy group working on sustainable energy solutions, including low-carbon initiatives in vulnerable countries. According to the group in a statement, all proceeds from the sale of the book go to the RE-Charge project, an integrated solar and sustainable transport services and training facility in Tacloban City, one of the areas severely devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Read our review of Agam here. — BM, GMA News

– See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/581389/scitech/science/climate-change-tome-agam-wins-2-gintong-aklat-awards-at-mibf#sthash.OgPdLKOX.dpuf

PICTURES

AGAM: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change was launched in June 2014 in Quezon City, and subsequently re-launched in Washington DC, Manhattan, Berlin, and Denver. The other week, it won the National Book Award for English Anthology. Agam is likely the world’s first literary anthology on the issue.

From left to right: Regina Abuyuan, Agam editor; Constantino and Merle Alunan, Agam contributor, during the book’s launch at University of the Philippines in Tacloban. -- VJ Villafranca

From left to right: Regina Abuyuan, Agam editor; Constantino and Merle Alunan, Agam contributor, during the book’s launch at University of the Philippines in Tacloban. — VJ Villafranca

To reframe the vista of calamity. This was the attempt, this was the goal — to produce through a book a lateral approach to the most serious crisis the present generation has ever faced, without the crutch of jargon and stripped of victim and disaster clichés.

The aim was earnest, and at the time of first utterance it sounded a bit unhinged.

It is easy now to deliver a description of the publication. A compelling book composed of 26 images, 24 narratives in verse and prose, in eight languages written by a range of minds representing the fields of journalism and fiction, climate science and veterinary medicine, theater, and the erotic arts. But at no point from the moment the decision was made to put together the book, from the time letters and randomly chosen portraits were first sent out inviting writers to contribute new work, up until the first dummy sheets had come in, was it clear what the final outcome would look like.

Cohesion was Godzilla, and chaos was King Kong — the idea behind the book was grand, but how to deal with a million moving mental parts?

The confrontation between climate change and communities across the Philippine archipelago will redefine the way we imagine nation, community, and citizenship. It is important to meet the challenge early, while employing new optics.

When the idea of Agam gained bones and veins in 2012, a central driving element was to generate conversations across mediums — imagery from narratives, and narratives from images — in order to draw from its encounter with the reader the instrument of voice.

“The force of a photograph,” wrote Susan Sontag in 1977, in her seminal book On Photography, “is that it keeps open to scrutiny instants which the normal flow of time immediately replaces.” Photography, Sontag wrote, implied “discontinuity, disarticulated forms and compensatory unity.”

Sontag’s maddening provocation pointed to a new grammar of thinking proffered by the visual code of photographic imagery. Photography had the ability to alter and enlarge “our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe,” capturing in particular, peculiarly, what the Victorian photography pioneer William H. Fox Talbot described as “the injuries of time.”

Photography compels us to see and yet it makes us look askance.

“The lens removes reality from reality better than a surgeon,” observed William H. Gass in his review of Sontag’s book. It “allows us to witness killing with impunity, nakedness without shame, weddings without weeping, miracles without astonishment, poverty without pain, death without anxiety.”

It is gratifying, compelling, yet problematic — a decisive argument, and inconclusive.

Wading through the intersection of memory and atrocity, the German photographer Richard Peter returned to Dresden seven months after Allied forces firebombed the city in February 1945. Peter photographed the trauma of war and four years later produced Dresden: Eine Kamera Klagtan (Dresden: A Camera Accuses).

Among his images, one shows a massive statue of a woman hovering above, hulking over, the rubble of the shattered city. Is she avenger or angel? The figure gazes from the town hall robed and slightly stooped, her left hand sweeping down as if presenting the skeletal remains of the city center surrounded by shredded neighborhoods — an entire town in a gurney, a colossal fracture.

Dec. 10, 2012: The Atlantic publishes photographs showing the smashed ruins of New Bataan Town in Compostela Valley, southern Philippines. Typhoon Bopha, with 260 kilometer-per-hour winds, has just passed through Mindanao, leaving behind coastal villages flattened by ferocious gusts and floodwaters.

Among the images is a shot taken by Erik de Castro of a barefoot woman navigating dangerous debris, a white bag of relief goods in hand. She cuts a tiny fragile figure walking gingerly across a massive field choked with boulders and violently uprooted trees resembling the anti-tank metal crosses used to slow the advance of Allied troops in Normandy. Other photos show the vestige of entire communities that in the span of a few hours lived the life of matchsticks in a storm.

The pictures are unnerving in their magnitude, lending proportions that create in awe a paralyzing effect — a kind of spectatorship of the cowed and powerless.

Although the choice to use images demonstrating the raw impact of extreme weather events presented itself to the project in 2012, when it was covering its first inches, the Agam team sidestepped the narrative of causality to pursue ambiguity instead.

It was an attempt to move away from the easy response — the glib ten things you can do to save the planet — in order to inject a sense of interrogation in the reader, to embrace uncertainty.

To overcome the enormity of the climate crisis, it was necessary to approach it obliquely, to reduce its size and enter the disputed territory of inaction where the act of accusation weighs less than our own evasions.

The portraits in Agam were taken by photojournalist Jose Enrique Soriano using a Hasselblad medium format camera and Fuji NPH400 color film. His work, as the book’s introduction notes, “is the glue that helps fasten the diverse pieces together,” meshing text written in Tagalog, Waray, Ilocano, Maguindanao, Bikol, Cebuano, Sinama Laminusa and English.

Agam writers were sent randomly selected portraits. Among other instructions, contributors were asked to use the images as a prompt and to avoid words such as climate change, adaptation and mainstreaming.

The result was Agam.

In explaining his craft, Soriano said he simply “went out, met and talked to people, and took their portraits. Unlike the news, there was no story to tailor the images. No captions to impose on the audience. No judgement on the lives of the people in the pictures.”

“Seeing writers react to the images with their words, words that were invoked in one way or another by photographs, is a complete joy,” Soriano said. “When I just took pictures, people started making beautiful stories.”

Renato Redentor Constantino is the executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, which published Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change.

By Renato Redentor Constantino.

Climate change anthology ‘Agam’ launched in Berlin

Originally published in GMA News
An anthology on the effects of climate change in the Philippines was launched in Berlin last week.

“Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change” is a collection of 26 photographs and 24 narratives about climate change written in eight languages—Bikol, Cebuano, English, Ilokano, Maguindanao, Tagalog and Waray, with English translations throughout.

The photographs were taken by photojournalist Jose Enrique Soriano and the stories supplied by 24 writers, including Merlinda Bobis, Merlie Alunan, Ramon C. Sunico, Sheila Coronel, Criselda Yabes and Regina Abuyuan.

The book, the brainchild of Abuyuan and Renato Redentor “Red” Constantino, executive director of the non-profit Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, was launched in Quezon City, New York City and Washington, D.C. last year.

Last Thursday’s launch at the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Schumannstrasse was opened by Philippine Ambassador to Germany Melita Sta.Maria-Thomeczek and featured readings by Berlin-based Filipina singer Isa Tabasuares, graduate student April Matias, and German climate activist Daniel Mittler.

“The title of the book, ‘Agam’, is an early Tagalog word for foreboding and memory,” said Constantino in a press release. “More than climate change, the book is about people, about what was, what might be, and what is. It is the story of all of us. It is an attempt to alter the discourse on an issue bigger than anything the world has encountered.”

Bestselling Canadian author Naomi Klein said of the book, “‘Agam’ is exquisite: a deeply original concept executed with tremendous artistry. Rather than asking readers to care about the whole world at once, these elegant vignettes distill the climate crisis down to its most intimate and human details. By focusing on the small, the biggest questions of all are cracked open. How do we heal after our most beloved and nourishing places have turned against us? How do we live in a world that has itself become a question mark? And most of all: How can we stop inflicting such violence on one another?”

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