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Sunday, February 7, 2010


Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia's Speech
Governor’s Summit on Climate Change

I am honored to be here, on behalf of the Province of Cebu, in the Philippines, from across the world, and grateful for this forum to tackle an urgent problem that respects no territorial boundaries.

When I left my country Monday, our brothers and sisters in the capital, Metro Manila, and nearby provinces, were still reeling -- as they continue to, even as we speak -- from the devastation wrought by Typhoon Ketsana.

While it was not, by our country’s standards, a remarkably strong typhoon, the unprecedented amount of rainfall -- a month’s worth of rains in about 6 hours; more rain, it is said, than that of Hurricane Katrina -- flooded entire cities and provinces, paralyzing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos.

The focus now is on the long and difficult rescue and relief operations. But the catastrophe has brought home -- literally -- the reality of climate change.

Cebu is a relatively small island at the geographic center of the Philippine archipelago. But we are big on our belief that there are no small or big islands -- that, indeed, no one is an island -- on the issue of climate change.

In May this year, we hosted a historic climate change summit of governors and mayors from the different provinces and cities in our region. The summit produced the Cebu covenant, containing concrete proposals that are premised on our belief that only through our collective, concerted and sustained action can we combat this phenomenon whose effects we are already feeling.

In our province itself, the past few years have seen a growing awareness of the problem, and an increasing commitment, on the part of both the public and the private sectors, to take measures to address it.

We have embarked on the most massive reforestation effort in our history. With the help of public school children, whose participation we hoped would increase awareness in the youth, we have planted a total of three million trees in a little over three years.

With our long coastline, and a significant number of our population dependent upon our marine resources, we have put coastal and marine resource management at the top of our priorities.

We have activated nine coastal resource management groups around our island, to monitor, protect and enhance our 81 marine protected areas.

With the help of NGOs, we are implementing a program to plant and grow one million mangrove propagules and seedlings, to make our coastal communities more resilient to climate change.

We realize, however, that for the response to climate change to be effective, we must embark on a grassroots campaign of awareness, of education, and of change. Towards this end, we have organized each barangay -- village, our basic unit of governance -- into what we call “nurturing” communities: a holistic approach to public sanitation and health, environmental protection, education, and cultural preservation and enhancement.

And we realize that this is only the beginning, and a lot remains to be done. We need not only to learn from the experiences of others, across the globe, but to work together with them, on this pressing problem that affects us all.

That is why we are grateful for a forum and an opportunity such as this, for it gives us hope that in this problem that cuts across borders, we all cross borders to find a common solution, for our shared future.

Thank You and Good Afternoon.
Gov. Garcia was invited by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to attend the 2nd Governors’ Global Climate Change Summit (GGCS), and speak in one of the panels in the summit, in particular the panel on “Climate Implications on the World’s Oceans”.

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About Me

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I am the son of Silvano Fiel, who is the son of Feliciano Fiel, who is the son of Julian Fiel, who is the son of Elias Fiel from Sibonga, Cebu. Elias Fiel has only one brother and his name is Isaac Fiel. My name is taken from my grandparents Feliciano and Marcelina. I am a religious missionary SVD.