The Tagbanwa people of the Philippines – stewards of the stunningly beautiful Coron Island — have established and observed for centuries strict rules of access and resource use. Their unspoiled forests are to be utilized for domestic purposes only. Their fishing practices in the sea operate simple and non-destructive traditional gears. And ten of their twelve freshwater lakes are kept as sacred areas, with entry reserved for spiritual and cultural purposes only. The two lakes accessible for tourism are under strict regulations concerning length of access: just a few hours, upon payment of a fee that benefits the community as a whole. No tourism permanent facility can be built on the island, and all the income from the temporary tourism permits is utilised in a collective way, in particular to ensure access to health services and education to the youth. In 1998, after a long struggle, the islanders managed to obtain a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, the first example of collective rights granted to both ancestral land and sea areas. Despite the certificate, the defence of the island has not been easy, and the collective rules have been challenged by tourism operators, government officials and even a case of individual corruption. The perfect conservation of the island of Coron and the dignified poverty of its inhabitants should be appreciated in comparison to the widespread transformation and destruction of the nearby shores and other small islands—literally denuded of natural habitats and covered with eroded pasture and roads, ports, airports, housing and tourism facilities and the flourishing if inequitable market economy that accompanies such lots. On November 8, 2013, Coron island has been under the blunt of typhoon Hayan (see below the appeal recently circulated by the Consortium’s Member KASAPI). If you wish and can demonstrate your support, please do so and possibly note that it is meant for the victims of the typhoon and the conservation of Coron island as an ICCA. Thanks in advance.
Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To Friends and supporters of Indigenous Peoples who have attended the climate change conference, Warsaw, Poland, and everybody else:
Typhoon Yolanda, international code name Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons in the past century to hit the Philippines blew away roofs, washed away homes and killed 10 thousand within hours of landfall on Friday morning, November 8, 2013.
The destruction it wrought is a poignant elucidation of what indigenous peoples have been voicing through the years – that the least contributors to climate change are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
The storm’s path included Coron Island – home to indigenous Tagbanuas. However, it is not in the radar of relief operations due to its location and isolation. In the indigenous community of Banuang Daan, homes of the entire village disappeared. As the Mayor of Coron reported, “in Banuang Daan, houses have disappeared with only one school building left standing”.
A post-emergency meeting held today between the Koalisyon ng Mga Katutubo at Samahan ng Pilipinas or National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines and its member organization, the Tagbanua Tribal Council of Coron Island Association (TTCIA) made the observation that typhoon Haiyan is the first time in 100 years to hit the island with such scale of destruction.
More than 1,500 indigenous families are currently homeless in Banuang Daan and Tara Island alone. The state of families in nine (9) other islands is uncertain because all motorized boats, the only means of transport in the islands, have been destroyed.
The immediate need include at least five (5) units of Rescue rubber boats, each capable of carrying eighteen (18) people. One unit of Rescue rubber boat costs P295,000 (6,860 USD) with 10 horsepower engine for each boat. This is the only means to conduct rapid field reconnaissance survey, rescue and transport the sick, transport rice, canned goods, noodles, medicines, tents, clothes, blankets, sleeping mats and mosquito nets.
The Philippine Association for Inter-cultural Development (PAFID) and KASAPI had been working with Tagbanuas of Coron Island for many years. Both are the only partner organizations whose interventions resulted in the indigenous community’s official recognition as the first ancestral land and waters domain in the country and the world. Both are the only organizations that installed effective monitoring of the island’s biodiversity through participatory mapping, documentation and inventory of its resources and to ensure that the island’s Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) will be protected.
We appeal for resource mobilization to support the community’s relief operations and to recover normal lives.
Cash donation may be sent to:
Account Name: KASAPI
Name of Bank: Development Bank of the Philippines – Philippine Heart Center Branch
Account Number: 0450-027557-030 (Swift Code DBPHPHMM).
As we address together the impacts of climate change globally by supporting local efforts, we look forward for responses to ensure that that we will not re-build lives with the same level of vulnerability to future disasters. Thank you in anticipation of your kind support.
Giovanni B. Reyes – Secretary General