Category: News

Calligrapher in town

Limited Baybayin-signed copies of Agam available!

by: Red Constantino

Kristian Kabuay was in town the other week. In fact, he had been around for a while before we had a chance to meet up, and meet up we did, thanks to his aunt, Mitzi Duque Ruiz.

A scholar and artist, Kabuay created the cover art for Agam, in fine calligraphy that spelled out in stylized Baybayin the title of the book.

Kristian had a full Philippine itinerary when he arrived in March. He did a live painting and exhibit at the Manila Collectible event in Intramuros on the 29th, and from April 9 to 11 he was in Lingayen, Pangasinan to attend the First Baybayin Summit at the Sison Auditorium.

We met up for a few drinks at Fred’s – saan pa! – where Kristian talked about his work and the people he met while he was here. He also signed a few copies of the book in gorgeous Baybayin, one of which can be yours if you want it.

Baybayin comes from the word “baybay”, which literally means “spell”. Baybayin is a pre-Filipino indigenous system of writing.

Kristian is a self-taught artist influenced by calligraphy, graffiti, abstract art, indigenous culture, technology and Asian writing systems. As a leading authority for the propagation and instruction of the Philippine script, he developed a modern performance style of the writing system called Tulang Kalis (Poetry of the Sword) and introduced it as Filipino Calligraphy with a series of live demonstrations and lectures at the Asian Art Museum in October 2012.

Kristian has spoken at numerous schools and institutions such as Stanford University, UC Berkeley, SF State University, UC Davis, Sonoma State, University of the Philippines, the National Anthropology Museum of Madrid, Tokyo University, and the San Francisco Philippine Consulate.

For Agam, he writes the book’s title in “modern” calligraphy and in traditional Baybayin. What appears on the cover is actually “A-Ga-M” – a blend of traditional and modern techniques. Traditionally, “Agam” would have been written as “A-Ga”, as generally, consonants without vowels were dropped. For this artwork, Kristian uses a modern vowel cancellation technique by the Hanunuo Mangyan tribe from Mindoro to cancel out the last character, “M”.

The more traditional script (“A-Ga”) can be found on the back cover.

Thanks for dropping by, Kristian. We hope to see you again when we launch Agam this coming August in Berkeley and Denver..

Agam now on Nat’l Bookstore, Abacus and Powerbooks shelves!

Well. Okay. Yes. We’re finally available. Sigh. But also – hooray! You can now get your copies of Agam in select National Bookstore, Powerbooks, and Abacus branches, which we’ve listed below. (Tip: when you ask for the book, try to spell out the entire title if you can – Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change. In National’s main branch in Cubao, it was displayed in the “General Science” section, with books by Richard Dawkins and Mary Roach. Excellent company, of course, but we asked for the book to be located with Filipiniana publications!)

It’s a fine book to have. We put together the country’s first literary anthology on climate change – a book that, apart from the title, refrained from using crutches of jargon (avoided using “climate change”) in order to share with you 26 images, and 24 narratives in verse and prose, written in eight Filipino languages, with English translations supplied throughout.

Bikol, Ilocano, Cebuano, Waray, Maguindanao, Sinama, Tagalog, English – works by some of the most celebrated writers in the country and abroad. This is your book. Agam represents story-telling at its best. 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.

Here are the branches where you can find Agam:

  • Abacus – Alabang Commercial Center
  • NBS Trinoma
  • Abacus – Rockwell
  • Abacus – Mall of Asia
  • Abacus – Market Market
  • Abacus – Katipunan
  • NBS – Shangri-la Plaza (Shaw)
  • NBS Ortigas (Robinson’s)
  • NBS Megamall
  • NBS Quezon Ave.
  • NBS Greenbelt
  • NBS Glorietta
  • NBS Superbranch, Cubao (Gen. Roxas St)
  • Powerbooks Trinoma
  • Powerbooks Serendra
  • Powerbooks Alabang

 

If you want discounts, you can always drop by iCSC’s office in Cubao any working day during regular office hours, or ask for a copy in the evening at the bar named Fred’s, which is right below our office. Or drop us a line if you’re elsewhere – we’ll find a way. We’ve been distributing the book in North America since last year..

Humanity as the eye and I of the storm

Originally published in Inquirer.net
NEW YORK CITY — Even as I write this, Typhoon Hagupit has just made its fourth landfall, this time targeting Batangas, after churning through the Visayas and the Bicol region. It first touched Philippine soil at the aptly named Dolores. Dolorous indeed have been the lives of those who live at the mouth of the typhoon corrida. While its status has been downgraded from the category of super typhoon, that is little consolation to the families of the 21 fatalities and the estimated million evacuees. Still, there is some solace to be had in the fact that Hagupit didn’t match Typhoon Yolanda’s outsized fury a little more than a year ago. Hagupit did however make memories of that historic landfall, with record-breaking velocity and storm surges, and at least 6,000 deaths, ever more vivid and from some accounts re-traumatized many Yolanda survivors.

By most accounts recovery efforts have been frustratingly slow, a long uphill battle. Stories of corruption and inefficiency abound, mixed in with narratives of resiliency and rehabilitation undertaken by the nonprofit sector, which theoretically should include the government, although to do so would be to beggar reality. Yolanda was seen then as a portent of other brutal storms to come—one of the inevitable and lamented legacies of climate change—and Hagupit seems to have emerged right on cue.

There has been another sort of commemoration, less concerned with the larger if rather detached picture of the unwelcome changes in Mother Nature, and more focused on the individuals who were right in the path of Yolanda. I refer to Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change, a book just published by the Philippine-based Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (www.ejeepney.org) “Agam” is a Tagalog word, meaning uncertainty, ambiguity, as well as meditation and reflection. According to the Introduction by Renato Redentor Constantino, ICSC’s executive director, it “also means a memory of the past, and the ability to think.” (If his name rings a bell, that is because this Renato is the grandson of the late Renato Constantino, the well-known leftist nationalist historian and author of several well-regarded books, including The Philippines: A Continuing Past and The Miseducation of the Filipino.) Definitely not a coffee table book (though its size nearly approximates it) and meant to be actually read, Agam is an anthology, made up of a series of photographs of Yolanda survivors, by Jose Enrique Soriano, and accompanying texts, by 24 poets and prose writers, almost all of them based in the Philippines.

Each of the contributing writers was sent one photo and asked to observe three rules: the length could not exceed a thousand words; the jargon of climate change was to be avoided at all costs; and, perhaps most importantly, the written text could not simply be a caption. The photo was to be used as a prompt, a catalyst, for a more personal and vivid imagining of the writer’s response to Yolanda. The languages in the book range from Tagalog and English to Ilocano and Waray, from Sama and Bicolano to Cebuano and Maguindanao, with English translations provided where needed.

Book review: Postcards from climate ground zero in ‘Agam’

Originally published in GMA News
For “Agam,” a collection of narratives about climate change, contributors were given a laundry list of words to avoid. “Global warming,” “adaptation,” “mitigation,” “mainstreaming” and, of course, “climate change” were just some of them. The result – as climate crusader Renato Redentor Constantino, one of the brains behind the book, said – is compelling.

Compelling, in a way, because this is essentially climate change talk without politics and propaganda. Even if you’re a staunch climate change denier, you’d have to be a real heartless individual to dismiss the suffering expressed in this book as propaganda.

Compelling, also, for the sense of foreboding one gets after the last page is turned.

For “Agam,” 24 contributors – artists, poets, journalists, anthropologists, scientists – try to see climate change from the eyes of those who may not have heard of or are familiar with the term. Incidentally, these are people whose livelihoods will be directly affected by the phenomenon – farmers, fishermen, the ordinary folk. It’s their day-to-day hopes and wonders and fears, scattered in 119 pages, divided in five sections (Plea, Looking Back, Foreboding, Hope and Testament), told in eight Filipino languages.

Not surprisingly, many used Yolanda as springboard for their narrative. In poet Padmapani L. Perez’s “Mothers Speak,” a mother begs the sea not to take her son the same way it took her husband. In “Sa Laylayan ng Bahaghari (Rainbow’s Edge)” by Palanca awardee Honorio Bartolome De Dios, a man addresses his bay, who has yet to be found after the storm. A wife’s search for her missing husband, meanwhile, is what Tacloban-born writer Daryll Delgado’s “Panawagan (Plea)” is all about.

Narratives that don’t tug at heartstrings, meanwhile, inspire analysis. In Constantino’s “Weather,” we are told that physicists have been seeing links between “mean temperature on the ground” and “heat-absorbing gases in the atmosphere” as early as April 1896. In “Unnatural Disasters,” noted journalist Sheila Coronel points out that when post-disaster accounting is done, “the columns that show responsibility and blame are rarely filled up.” To bring the collection to a fitting close, UP Diliman Chancellor Dr. Michael L. Tan, in “Malayo Na,” asks the pertinent question, “Where are we headed for?”

And then there are the pictures. According to Constantino’s introduction to the book, the project began when they tapped retired photojournalist Jose Enrique Soriano to capture portraits of Filipinos facing climate change. Feeling up to the challenge, Soriano said he “went out, met and talked to people, and took their portraits.” It is from these snapshots that the writers based their narratives (each was assigned a photo).

As always, words and pictures make for a nice package. Paired together in this context, the book presents a very human face of the climate problem, which is just as loud a call for attention and understanding as the jargon-infested reports of climate experts. The people behind the project do not implore readers to go out on the streets and seek changes through threats and militancy; what they hope to accomplish through “Agam” is for readers to think more deeply about the problem, particularly its causes, so that long-term solutions can be proposed. Otherwise, the day will come when this collection will have the eerie effect of a suicide note.

“Agam” is published by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC). The proceeds from the book will go to Re-Charge Tacloban, a project that funds the building of e-jeepneys and integrated solar sustainable transport facilities in the Yolanda-hit city.

In ‘Agam,’ words, photos bring climate change closer to home

Originally published by Rappler
When disaster strikes, nothing remains unchanged.

Help is arranged, then extended. Everyday heroes spring into action. In the process, reflections on roles come to pass. Using what skills you have, how can you best help a cause? As you look forward to the future, there is much to remember about the past.

A new book called Agam, recently launched in the Philippines, aims to create discussion, raise awareness, and call others to action with regard to climate change – all without saying those two words.

The book features 8 languages, 24 writers, and 26 images, and aims to call for action and create discourse about global warming.

And because this is a carefully curated literary anthology crafted by some of Philippine literature’s distinguished writers, each piece carries with it its own living, beating heart.

Premonition, memory

Agam-agam in Filipino means “foreboding” or “premonition,” which highlights a major theme in the discussion of climate change. The possibility of disaster has never been more threating, especially after the events of typhoon Yolanda.

Yet despite this uncertainty, there’s learning to be done – about the past, where we were, where we are today, which will be a memory come tomorrow.

And this is when the root word itself comes into the spotlight: “…it is agam, the root, that provides the very core and breadth that this book requires to capture the publication’s singular purpose, because apart from disquiet and doubt, agam also means a memory of the past, and the ability to think,” writes Renato Redentor “Red” Constantino in the book’s introduction.

No jargon

In 2011, the idea for Agam was conceived by Constantino, an environmental activist, and Regina Abuyuan, a journalist and editor, after looking at a photo exhibit in the senate that showed pictures post-disaster.
Around two years later, writers who joined the project were given prompts in the form of portraits by Jose Enrique Soriano, which were taken from around the Philippines.

These portraits, which showed Filipinos facing climate change, accompany the works in the book, part and parcel of the storytelling process of the entire project.

Getting involved

Prior to helping spearhead Agam, Constantino mainly worked with the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), and campaigned against climate change.

He said that he would often feel frustrated at the public’s lack of involvement with climate change. He said he wanted to veer away from wooden jargon and facts and figures. Constantino said he wanted an approach that would elicit more of a response. “We’d like the book to send a signal to the literary community. It’s time to get involved.”

He said that greater reflection and sustained action are needed to adequately respond to climate change. He also said he believed that action is an expression of citizenship, solidarity, and urgency.

He authored a piece in Agam titled “Weather.” Constantino said he used creative non-fiction as away to bring in the fact that this issue has been with the public for a long time. “The way I tackled it was to employ a bit of searching because it [“Weather”] doesn’t conclude things for the reader. It actually raises more questions [about climate change].”

He said that many pieces in the book talk about what was happening before and what is happening now. He said that like the title, Agam, there is a thread of uncertainty that faces all of us when concerned with the issue of climate change.

Abuyuan said that because of ICSC’s sideways approach to dealing with issues that she would like people to read the book and realize that climate change isn’t just about disasters. “It doesn’t happen to just a family in Tacloban, it can happen to you if you don’t do something about it now.”

“I think by telling good stories and not just making [Agam] about victimization, we might be able to learn something,” she said.

Don’t ignore signs

Abuyuan said that she feels that the meaning of the word “agam” is also spiritual. Abuyuan said she believed that to really understand the meaning of “agam,” a person would need to be more attuned to the world around them. “If you don’t care or don’t want to care about what’s happening around you then you probably won’t get it.”
She contributed a story to Agam entitled “One,” which is written from a dog’s point of view. The dog in “One” tries to keep her owners from the danger of Typhoon Yolanda, but the owners don’t listen. The lesson that Abuyuan said that the dog imparts is to listen and feel. To “taste,” “sniff,” and “see.”

“Don’t ignore signs,” Abuyuan said.

However, Soriano said that when taking the portraits used for the prompts that he had no real method to choosing subjects. Soriano said there was no agenda and that he simply let loose and went with people whom he just found interesting.

When asked if he saw a theme with the pictures Soriano said it was about ambiguity and uncertainty. “Everything is ambiguous, which I believe is what climate change is. It hits everyone… You could be some big ass guy in Makati or some poor schmuck in Tacloban and if it hits you, it hits you. There is no middle ground. That’s the nice thing about this project – ambiguity,” said Soriano.

Closer to home

Arnold Azurin, an anthropologist and writer, said that he used the photo prompts as a tool. “It’s the photos that are supposed to trigger us into mining our imagination. There is no storyboard.”

Azurin wrote a piece in Agam titled “Agayayos.” With this piece comes a subtitle: “From Ilocano, as water down a river, or blood in the veins, memories in a lifetime.”

Azurin said that after looking at his portrait prompt, he tried to express a world view using different memories. He said that Agayayos is a place; it’s the highest part of the highway before one reaches Vigan. Azurin said that it was used as a lookout point in ancient times for trading ships.

To contrast with the past, Azurin said he wrote how Agayayos is used now to see changes in weather. “You can see the changes of the weather in the landscape because it’s the highest point talaga.”

Azurin said that he noticed that a lot of the writers were extracting meaning from the portraits and putting that into their work. Comparably similar to how “things [to look out for with climate change] are embedded in the landscape.”

In Agam, different voices discuss perspectives on climate change, present thoughts and ideas in relatable ways, and bring the issue that much closer to home.

Only 1,000 copies of Agam were printed. It will be available in branches of Powerbooks and National Bookstore throughout the country.

10 Reasons Why We Love Agam, A Book on Climate Change for the Benefit of Yolanda Survivors

Compiled narratives on uncertainty and climate change, written by 24 writers in 8 languages

On June 24, 2014, the who’s who of the literary world gathered at Victorino’s in celebration of the first Philippine literary book on climate change. However, Renato Redentor Constantino (Executive Director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and a contributor to the book) clarified that it is more than just a book about the weather. It’s not even really an anthology. It’s a book of interpretations and insights. Filled with poems and narratives from different perspectives, Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change is a work of art that breathes new life to the dying word unique. Reading through the pages offers an experience unlike any you’ve ever had in Philippine Literature.

Here are 10 reasons why we love it.

1. A giving book for Tacloban.
All proceeds from the sale of Agam goes directly to the Re-Charge Project, which seeks to build a renewable energy source to the devastated parts of Tacloban through solar panels, which would then be used to “fuel” a fleet of electronic jeepneys. The enterprise hopes to provide jobs for the survivors, while also creating a more sustainable and cleaner form of transportation service in the area.

2. The multilingual approach: poems and stories in eight Philippine languages
Stories written in Tagalog/Filipino, Waray, Maguindanao, Bicolano, Ilocano, Sinama, Cebuano, and English? Count us in. The book not only supports green causes, it also promotes Philippine literature, not just Filipino literature. More books in our local languages, please.

3. The impressive lineup: 24 critically acclaimed writers.
We were star-struck at the book launch, in the presence of these titans: Regina Abuyuan (also the Executive Editor), Merlie Alunan, Dr. Leoncio Amadore, Arnold Azurin, Romulo P. Baquiran Jr., Herminio S. Beltran Jr., Merlinda Bobis, Renato Redentor Constantino, Sheila Coronel, Honorio de Dios, Daryll Delgado, Grace Monte de Ramos, Ricardo M. de Ungria, Marjorie Evasco, Alya B. Honosan, Susan S. Lara, Padmapani L. Perez, Mucha-Shim Lahaman Quiling, Joel Saracho, Jose Enrique Soriano, May Ling Su, Ramon C. Sunico, Mubarak M. Tahir, Dr. Michael L. Tan, and Criselda Yabes.

Among these authors are winners of the Carlos Palanca award, a Magsaysay Awardee, a SEAWrite Awardee, the Chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, public intellectuals, and pop culture experts. All of them in one book.

4. The stories, of course.
As a rule, the writers were asked not to use specific words, including “climate change.” The results are a poem about a wife who wants to let her husband know that she is alright (but fearing that it is he who was washed away when the super typhoon hit), a tale of a child who comes home after a storm, and a rainbow-colored plastic sheet fashioned into a skirt for warmth.

5. Love instead of fear.
The topic seems grim but the book devotes an entire chapter to hope. In between sorrow and whatever feelings the inadequacy in disaster preparation/management stirs in you, Agam contain narratives that aim to inspire change. After all, it all begins with desire—to improve and to help.

6. The striking images.
Behind the lens is Jose Enrique Soriano, who took portraits of people he met. He imposed no story or caption behind their faces—no unnecessary drama, just “the people at the forefront of climate change.” In this case, it means those who live with its effects. There is no sweeping background of the devastation. The pictures are about the people, as the stories are too.

7. The cover: a mix of new and old typography by Kristian Kabuay.
It’s not very apparent, but the calligraphy is baybayin with modern techniques from the Hanunuo Mangyan tribe in Mindoro. (The black “squiggles” on the front cover reads “A-Ga-M” and on the back, the more traditional “A-Ga” is written.)

8. Revitalizing the role of literature in influencing social movement.
Beyond expressing one’s own heartaches, poetry and other forms of literature were always meant to not just capture emotions but to effect them as well. The collection of poems, stories, and photographs in Agam strengthen the idea that art is for the community. The readers benefit from the stories and those in need benefit from the purchase. That’s more than anyone can ask for from a book.

9. The impact it will have.
This is a first. We’re hoping it’s not the last. Nearly everyone involved in creating the book found the experience overwhelmingly pleasing, despite the heavy themes. The publishers gave the contributors room for creativity, the advocacies weren’t lost in translation, and, if enough people purchase a copy, it would shape a better Tacloban.

10. You get what you pay for.
The book is 10 x 10 inches and the 26 images by Jose Enrique Soriano are printed in crisp colors. There are 24 narratives for you to enjoy and be moved by and you’re going to help the rebuild of Eastern Visayas. That’s P1,600 spent well.

Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change is available in all Powerbooks branches and major National Bookstore outlets. Visit the official website, Agam.ph, for more information.

Editor’s note: This article is re-posted from Spot.ph.

About the featured image: 

Tacloban, Leyte – June 28, 2014 – The Institute for Climate ans Sustainable Cities hosted the launch of their book entitled ‘Agam’ in the University of the Philippines Tacloban campus today June 28, 2014. Proceeds from the sales of the book will help fund Re-charge Tacloban project where they will bring in electronic jeepneys in the city as part of their mitigation project for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.

Photo by Veejay Villafranca for ICSC

.

Electric jeeps to double as mobile charging stations in Tacloban

by: Kim Luces for GMA News Online

Electric jeepneys that double as mobile power stations — this is what one advocacy group is trying to make happen in Tacloban City in Eastern Visayas in an attempt to help solve both transport and power problems in the area as part of the RE-Charge Tacloban project.

“We’ll schedule visits to communities that have no power as of now because there are still communities without power. Of course we have to talk to the leaders of the community and see what their power needs are. People can bring their cellphones, laptops, rechargeable lamps, and they can charge sa electric jeepney,” Reina Garcia, project manager of the RE-Charge Tacloban project of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), said in an interview with GMA News Online this week.

When it happens, it will be the first time that the technology will be applied in such a way in the Philippines, she added.

Enter the eJeepney

The iCSC released the country’s first locally-manufactured eJeepney in 2008 and a fleet of those jeepney now traverse some areas in Makati and in Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.

Another fleet of six jeeps will be deployed in Tacloban by the end of July.
“Almost half of the fleet that we will be launching in Tacloban will be composed of multicabs that were damaged by Yolanda,” said Garcia.

Multicabs, smaller version of jeepneys, are the main modes of transportation inside Tacloban City. “We plan to take those multicabs and install electric motors because those have already been damaged. We’re going to install electric motors and revive those vehicles,” she added.

“We’ll be retrofitting some of the electric jeepneys as a power station. Each jeepney is a power station, and we’ll be adding more energy storage facilities,” Renato Redentor “Red” Constantino, executive director of iCSC, said in an earlier interview.

“We’ll start with one unit for that. We’ll convert one of the multicabs to electric and we’ll make it into a mobile power station,” Garcia explained.

However, since the effort is still in its early stages, iCSC has yet to provide a design model for the electric jeep/mobile power station.

The main difference between the retrofitted jeepney and the regular jeepney is that the former will contain more battery banks to meet the charging needs of people in Tacloban.

An eJeepney charging station will also be built in Tacloban where solar arrays or solar panels will be placed.

“The charging station is also a motor pool for the maintenance of the jeep, pero at the same time, the biggest difference is may solar array siya so most of the electricity will come from renewable energy,” said Garcia.

Constantino said that the eJeepneys will be traversing downtown Tacloban.

“In Tacloban, we’re already studying (other) routes na possible. At the same time, outside of Tacloban, in the Leyte area, we’re also studying which areas would benefit from the e-jeepney. That’s really our pilot, so we’ll work on that, make it happen, then hopefully we’ll be able to have a model which we can apply to other areas,” Garcia said.

The residents of Tacloban will also be trained to maintain and drive the eJeepneys.

To help with funding, 100 percent of the proceeds of the book “Agam” , which was launched this week, will go to the Re-Charge Tacloban Project.

 

Editor’s note: This is article is re-posted from GMA News Online..

In ‘Agam,’ words, photos bring climate change closer to home

No technical terms and jargon here. Within each literary piece, accompanied by moving post-distaster photographs, lies the invitation to speak, to think, to learn from the past even as we move to the future.

MANILA, Philippines – When disaster strikes, nothing remains unchanged.

Help is arranged, then extended. Everyday heroes spring into action. In the process, reflections on roles come to pass. Using what skills you have, how can you best help a cause? As you look forward to the future, there is much to remember about the past.

A new book called Agam, recently launched in the Philippines, aims to create discussion, raise awareness, and call others to action with regard to climate change – all without saying those two words.

The book features 8 languages, 24 writers, and 26 images, and aims to call for action and create discourse about global warming.

And because this is a carefully curated literary anthology crafted by some of Philippine literature’s distinguished writers, each piece carries with it its own living, beating heart.

Premonition, memory

Agam-agam in Filipino means “foreboding” or “premonition,” which highlights a major theme in the discussion of climate change. The possibility of disaster has never been more threating, especially after the events of typhoon Yolanda.

Yet despite this uncertainty, there’s learning to be done – about the past, where we were, where we are today, which will be a memory come tomorrow.

And this is when the root word itself comes into the spotlight: “…it is agam, the root, that provides the very core and breadth that this book requires to capture the publication’s singular purpose, because apart from disquiet and doubt, agam also means a memory of the past, and the ability to think,” writes Renato Redentor “Red” Constantino in the book’s introduction.

In 2011, the idea for Agam was conceived by Constantino, an environmental activist, and Regina Abuyuan, a journalist and editor, after looking at a photo exhibit in the senate that showed pictures post-disaster.

Around two years later, writers who joined the project were given prompts in the form of portraits by Jose Enrique Soriano, which were taken from around the Philippines.

These portraits, which showed Filipinos facing climate change, accompany the works in the book, part and parcel of the storytelling process of the entire project.

Getting involved

Prior to helping spearhead Agam, Constantino mainly worked with the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), and campaigned against climate change.

He said that he would often feel frustrated at the public’s lack of involvement with climate change. He said he wanted to veer away from wooden jargon and facts and figures. Constantino said he wanted an approach that would elicit more of a response. “We’d like the book to send a signal to the literary community. It’s time to get involved.”

He said that greater reflection and sustained action are needed to adequately respond to climate change. He also said he believed that action is an expression of citizenship, solidarity, and urgency.

He authored a piece in Agam titled “Weather.” Santiago said he used creative non-fiction as away to bring in the fact that this issue has been with the public for a long time. “The way I tackled it was to employ a bit of searching because it [“Weather”] doesn’t conclude things for the reader. It actually raises more questions [about climate change].”

He said that many pieces in the book talk about what was happening before and what is happening now. He said that like the title, Agam, there is a thread of uncertainty that faces all of us when concerned with the issue of climate change.

Abuyuan said that because of ICSC’s sideways approach to dealing with issues that she would like people to read the book and realize that climate change isn’t just about disasters. “It doesn’t happen to just a family in Tacloban, it can happen to you if you don’t do something about it now.”

“I think by telling good stories and not just making [Agam] about victimization, we might be able to learn something,” she said.

Don’t ignore signs

Abuyuan said that she feels that the meaning of the word “agam” is also spiritual. Abuyuan said she believed that to really understand the meaning of “agam,” a person would need to be more attuned to the world around them. “If you don’t care or don’t want to care about what’s happening around you then you probably won’t get it.”

She contributed a story to Agam entitled “One,” which is written from a dog’s point of view. The dog in “One” tries to keep her owners from the danger of Typhoon Yolanda, but the owners don’t listen. The lesson that Abuyuan said that the dog imparts is to listen and feel. To “taste,” “sniff,” and “see.”

“Don’t ignore signs,” Abuyuan said.

However, Soriano said that when taking the portraits used for the prompts that he had no real method to choosing subjects. Soriano said there was no agenda and that he simply let loose and went with people whom he just found interesting.

When asked if he saw a theme with the pictures Soriano said it was about ambiguity and uncertainty. “Everything is ambiguous, which I believe is what climate change is. It hits everyone… You could be some big ass guy in Makati or some poor schmuck in Tacloban and if it hits you, it hits you. There is no middle ground. That’s the nice thing about this project – ambiguity,” said Soriano.

Closer to home

Arnold Azurin, an anthropologist and writer, said that he used the photo prompts as a tool. “It’s the photos that are supposed to trigger us into mining our imagination. There is no storyboard.”

Azurin wrote a piece in Agam titled “Agayayos.” With this piece comes a subtitle: “From Ilocano, as water down a river, or blood in the veins, memories in a lifetime.”

Azurin said that after looking at his portrait prompt, he tried to express a world view using different memories. He said that Agayayos is a place; it’s the highest part of the highway before one reaches Vigan. Azurin said that it was used as a lookout point in ancient times for trading ships.

To contrast with the past, Azurin said he wrote how Agayayos is used now to see changes in weather. “You can see the changes of the weather in the landscape because it’s the highest point talaga.”

Azurin said that he noticed that a lot of the writers were extracting meaning from the portraits and putting that into their work. Comparably similar to how “things [to look out for with climate change] are embedded in the landscape.”

In Agam, different voices discuss perspectives on climate change, present thoughts and ideas in relatable ways, and bring the issue that much closer to home.

Only 1,000 copies of Agam were printed. It will be available in branches of Powerbooks and National Bookstore throughout the country.

 

Editor’s Note: This article is re-posted from Rappler.com.

 .

Literary book on climate change launched

by: Katrina Rivere-Diga for Speed Magazine

The effects of climate change—rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps, increasing temperatures—have been written and talked about so much. Unfortunately, the problem is so big and complex that the public chooses to ignore it.

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), a non-profit group working on sustainable energy solutions, aims to change that with a groundbreaking book that hopes to engage the public to talk about the issue.

Titled Agam, an early Filipino word for foreboding and memory, the literary book is a collection of 26 images and 24 narratives about climate change.

Launched in a jam-packed restaurant in Quezon City yesterday, the book is the brainchild of Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of ICSC, and Regina Abuyuan, Manila Bulletin‘s Business Agenda section editor.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate’s Climate Change Committee, attended the launch and gave a short address.

The book’s contributors were each assigned a photo, shot by Jose Enrique Soriano, that served as a prompt for the piece they were to write. They were free to write in any literary genre and use any language. The result is a collection of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poems in the languages of Tagalog, Waray, Maguindanao, Bikol, Ilokano, Cebuano, Sinama, and English.

While this is a book about climate change, the works—each no longer than 1,000 words—do not contain words such as “adaptation,” “mitigation,” and “climate change.”

Agam contributors include distinguished poets Ramon C. Sunico, Merlinda Bobis, and Padmapani Perez, Columbia School of Journalism dean Shiela Coronel, University of the Philippines-Diliman chancellor Dr. Michael Tan, and anthropologist Arnold Azurin.

The book will be launched on June 28 in Tacloban, Leyte, followed by a launch in California’s Berkeley, San Francisco and in Manhattan, New York in July.

All proceeds from the sale of Agam will go to Re-Charge Tacloban, a project that funds the building of e-jeepneys and integrated solar sustainable transport facilities in Tacloban.

 

Editor’s note: This article is re-posted from Speed-mag.com.

About the featured image:

June 24, 2014 – Manila, Philppines – Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate’s Climate Change Committee gives her speech during the launch of the book ‘Agam’ published by Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities June 24, 2014. 26 Images by Jose Enrique Soriano and 24 writers are featured in this book that tackles issues on climate change and stories of hope.

Photo by Veejay Villafranca for Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities

 .

BOOKS | Every picture tells a true climate change story in ‘Agam’

By: Tricia Aquino for Interaksyon.com

A man stares straight into the camera, his head covered with a plastic-wrapped hat, a misty mountain behind him. A woman carries her child, whose closed eyes indicate sleep, or death, and with the still sea in the backdrop. On a pile of rubble, a young man sits with cigaret in hand, sunglasses over eyes, and clown wig on his head.

The ambiguity and the openness to interpretation were exactly what Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) executive director and Agam book publisher Renato Redentor ‘Red’ Constantino was going for, he told InterAksyon.com in an interview. “These people could be any other Filipino. They could be the reader of the book. They could be you.”

Agam” is Tagalog for “foreboding” and “memory.” The same word could refer to the state of the country today, said Constantino. “It’s not pretty good.”

The photographs are part of a series of images taken by photojournalist Enrique Soriano all over the Philippines as he tackles the topic of climate change, how it’s altering our landscape and how it’s affecting the lives of Filipinos.

Besides the work of Soriano, 24 poets and journalists have also collaborated with the publisher by writing their individual insights on the topic and as they mulled over Soriano’s sometimes poignant, often haunting images.

Constantino shared that the book project became a challenge for journalists to get their audience to care about climate change and the risks that natural hazards pose. How can they make abstract words like “adaptation,” “preparedness,” and “mitigation” concrete? How can they deliver messages that save lives? How can they move their readers, viewers, and listeners to act on facts?

Creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in eight Philippine languages are contained in the work published by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), each piece a thousand words or less. The writers hoped to take over where the scientists and non-governmental organizations left off, after scientific and technical explanations have been made and relief has been given. This time, the writers took on the role of telling the people’s stories—especially those that have been silenced by floods, storm surges, and earthquakes.

With supertyphoon Yolanda still fresh in Filipinos’ minds, the book shares something more than recollections of the disaster that struck Eastern Visayas: the ever-present threat of another catastrophe.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warned last month that Metro Manila is surrounded by active faults, making it susceptible to earthquakes, which could in turn trigger tsunamis. At the same time, the Department of Science and Technology urged Metro Manila to prepare for another Typhoon Milenyo or Tropical Storm Ondoy this year, given that both occurred in El Niño years.

Despite these grim announcements, Constantino believed that there was an opportunity in disaster to build back better.

Proceeds from the sales of the books, for example, will go to iCSC’s RE-Charge project. “There will be seven this year, and 20 next year,” he said of the electric jeepneys (or eJeepneys) to be rolled out in Tacloban. Another fleet is already present in Makati.

Agam will be launched on June 24, Tuesday, at Victorino’s restaurant in Quezon City from 3 to 6 p.m. Another book launching event will be held in Tacloban City in Leyte. In the US, book launches will be held in San Francisco and New York this month and the next. It will also be unveiled in Washington D.C. in September.

Editor’s Note: This article is re-posted from Interaksyon.com.

.

SiteLock