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!)Read More
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 ICSCRead More
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.
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.
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.
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.Read More
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 CitiesRead More