The Road to Paris: Dingdong Dantes and A.G. Sano

The Road to Paris: Dingdong Dantes and A.G. Sano. Written and compiled by Bam Alegre for SubSelfie.com

Mention Paris, France and most people will think about the recent terror attacks that dominated global headlines and social media timelines a few weeks ago. But Paris is now tackling a larger terror that also requires the attention of the entire world: climate change and how it can cause a literal hell on Earth if we keep ignoring it.

This December, the leaders of the world are now in France tabout tho discuss and decide the next steps of humanity to combat global warming. This gathering is called COP 21 or the 21st Conference of the Parties since the 1992 United Nations Framework on Climate Change.

What is the goal of these meetings? After two decades, the nations aim to come up with a legally binding agreement to lessen carbon emissions that have led to the warming of our planet. Legally binding means this will apply to all nations and there are penalties or punishments if a country will violate the agreed rules.

There are many Filipinos in France who are participating in these historic meetings. Even President Noynoy Aquino gave a keynote speech in Paris a few days ago. But we will focus on two people who may not even know each other. One is a prized celebrity in the Philippines and the other is an artist who has dedicated his craft for the environment.

They may have taken different paths to get to Paris but they have one goal in mind: to take action with the world to face the growing threat of climate change.

Dingdong inspecting the effects of El Nino
Dingdong inspecting the effects of El Nino

Dingdong Dantes

As the Primetime King of GMA-7, Dingdong Dantes recently took the lead role of a progressive priest in the teleserye Pari ‘Koy. But behind the scenes, he has been actively fulfilling his duties as the Commissioner-at-Large of the National Youth Commission. And as part of the official delegation of the Philippines, he flew to Paris to speak in the conference. In his words:

“My name is Jose Sixto Dantes III and I come from an archipelago that knows an average of 22 typhoons a year. On paper, I am a Commissioner representing the Youth of the Philippines. But in my heart I feel like I am really just representing my daughter Maria Letizia who is 7 days (and 20 hours) old today. If any of you here are first time parents, you know that I really shouldn’t have left her nor her mother’s side at this time, even for a single minute. Yet here I am.”

“I am here because when I represent Maria Letizia, I represent the world. You are all also here for yours, your sons and daughters, and for those still without… the children you are about to bear, should fate bestow you with them. You are here for the world — as I am.”

Maria Letizia Gracia-Dantes. Photo courtesy: Marian Rivera via Facebook
Maria Letizia Gracia-Dantes. Photo courtesy: Marian Rivera via Facebook

Dantes turned over the results of their campaign entitled the Not on My Watch (#NowPH) movement. It seeks to empower the youth as leaders in the fight against climate change and it has now generated 221 million social media impressions and 3.6 million total pledges. This output is proof that the Filipino youth is committed to work towards climate action. Dantes explains in his speech:

“#NOWPH is our country’s informed voice that goes above the din of all these highly urgent, terribly important, globally relevant conversations swirling around Paris these past few days and especially in the coming week.”

“I say informed because every Filipino that has survived a typhoon like Haiyan is a climate change expert in one way or the other. So please take our word for it: we know. To choose to be involved and get people involved is certainly the greatest contribution we can make in addressing the common problems we face in our common home.”

With respected GMA News journalist Jiggy Manicad, Dingdong also produced a Sunday Night Box Office documentary for GMA 7 which discusses the effects of climate change in the Philippines.

A.G. Sano

A.G. is a friend I met during my field work as a segment producer. I covered his advocacy of drawing colorful dolphins in walls, houses and every imaginable structure as a form of protest. He learned that in Japan, an average of 23,000 dolphins are killed yearly. This was just the start for A.G.

During our previous article, we mentioned how Commissioner Yeb Sano cried in a conference in Warsaw when he saw video footage of survivors carrying dead bodies in their hometown of Tacloban. One of those survivors was his brother, A.G. He endured the storm, attended to the wounded, and helped give dignity to the scattered corpses in the streets of the city.

Personally, I am thankful for A.G. because he also helped my cousin who suffered a foot injury. My mother is from Tacloban as well. Luckily, none of my relatives died during that fateful day back in 2013.

A.G. Sano. Photo courtesy: GMA News.
A.G. Sano. Photo courtesy: GMA News.

The Yolanda experience solidified A.G.’s devotion for the environment. He joined his brother Yeb in a long pilgrimage to advocate climate justice. Initially, they walked from Manila to Tacloban to send a statement about the importance of unity. Then they packed their bags and walked from Italy to France.

I kept in touch with A.G. through Facebook and although his online connection was intermittent, he sent me this photo essay of his climate walk. Images and captions are from A.G. Sano (with photos from Kasia Strek and Mona Caron):

We have crossed the Italian-Swiss border through the Great Saint Bernard Pass.
We have crossed the Italian-Swiss border through the Great Saint Bernard Pass.
We are at 2,400 meters above sea level. The Great Saint Bernard Pass is the highest point of the road that links Italy and Switzerland. This has been a pilgrim's route for hundreds of years.
We are at 2,400 meters above sea level. The Great Saint Bernard Pass is the highest point of the road that links Italy and Switzerland. This has been a pilgrim’s route for hundreds of years.
We have conquered the Alps. This climb is for my fellow super typhoon Haiyan survivors and those whose lives were taken. I shall never forget.
We have conquered the Alps. This climb is for my fellow super typhoon Haiyan survivors and those whose lives were taken. I shall never forget.
Stepping through. The Italian-Swiss border at the Great Saint Bernard Pass.
Stepping through. The Italian-Swiss border at the Great Saint Bernard Pass.
Selfie below zero. It is unusual for brown skinned men and women to walk past the white landscapes of the Great Saint Bernard Pass but we survived the climb up the Italian alps and the descent to Switzerland to show the strength of the Filipino spirit. We were joined in solidarity by fellow climate pilgrims from Hong Kong, UK, Italy, USA, Germany and France.
Selfie below zero. It is unusual for brown skinned men and women to walk past the white landscapes of the Great Saint Bernard Pass but we survived the climb up the Italian alps and the descent to Switzerland to show the strength of the Filipino spirit. We were joined in solidarity by fellow climate pilgrims from Hong Kong, UK, Italy, USA, Germany and France.
Greenhouse gas expert and consultant Alan Luis Silayan, who was also with the Climate Walk from Manila to Tacloban, braves the rugged terrain at the Italian alps.
Greenhouse gas expert and consultant Alan Luis Silayan, who was also with the Climate Walk from Manila to Tacloban, braves the rugged terrain at the Italian alps.
Alan Burns, British climate activist who walked from Manila to Tacloban last year for the Climate Walk, is dwarfed by the majestic cliffs of southern France.
Alan Burns, British climate activist who walked from Manila to Tacloban last year for the Climate Walk, is dwarfed by the majestic cliffs of southern France.
We have arrived yesterday in Paris (November 30). Thanks to all those who believed in us: Maye, Leni, Renee, Tess Kayumanggi, Imee Malaya, Blanco Amalie. And to all those who supported the cause. Climate Justice may be far from being achieved but we all took the step to bring the voices of the people who are affected by the changing climate. This is for you Agit, Archimedes, Apyong, Jazz James, Januar and the people of Tacloban, and those who suffered greatly because of Haiyan. This is for everyone who confronts climate change. This is for the people of the Pacific: Niten, George and Fenton, who are bound to lose everything because of the rising sea level. This is for the next generation. I hope that we will be heard. I hope that the two million steps from Rome to Paris will be worth it. Photo by Kasia Strek.
We have arrived in Paris (November 30, 2015). Thanks to all those who believed in us: Maye, Leni, Renee, Tess Kayumanggi, Imee Malaya, Blanco Amalie. And to all those who supported the cause. Climate Justice may be far from being achieved but we all took the step to bring the voices of the people who are affected by the changing climate. This is for you Agit, Archimedes, Apyong, Jazz James, Januar and the people of Tacloban, and those who suffered greatly because of Haiyan. This is for everyone who confronts climate change. This is for the people of the Pacific: Niten, George and Fenton, who are bound to lose everything because of the rising sea level. This is for the next generation. I hope that we will be heard. I hope that the two million steps from Rome to Paris will be worth it. Photo by Kasia Strek.
Paris 2015. Together with Tashi of the People's Pilgrimage and Japy of RARE, I stood along the indigenous people from all over the world in this segment of the ‪#‎HumanChain‬ for ‪#‎ClimateJustice‬. Photo by Mona Caron.
Paris 2015. Together with Tashi of the People’s Pilgrimage and Japy of RARE, I stood along the indigenous people from all over the world in this segment of the ‪#‎HumanChain‬ for ‪#‎ClimateJustice‬. Photo by Mona Caron.

Dingdong Dantes and A.G. Sano… two Filipinos from different walks of life who are now traveling the same road towards a better Earth. Not only for us, but for future generations. We don’t have to go to Paris to make a difference. It starts with accepting the responsibility that this Earth is for us to care and protect.

[Entry 112, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Bam Alegre.
Bam Alegre is the founder of SubSelfie.com and writes from time to time as a guest contributor. He is a News Reporter for GMA News (2012) and an Instructor for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the East (2015). He was also part of the team that won GMA News the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for the news coverage of super typhoon Yolanda (2013). Previously, he worked behind the scenes as a Segment Producer for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho and 24 Oras (2009-2012). He is also the vocalist, pianist and guitarist of the band No Parking (2005). BA Broadcast Communication 2007, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here.

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