Does this work pass the smell test?: #CRinFlorida Day 1 Reflection


These next few days I’ll be sharing my personal reflection on a climate leadership conference I’m part of. I do this to capture the raw emotion in my daily reflection in order to help me with my later writing. If these posts benefit you, too, in any small way, please let me know via a comment. Thank you.

The strategic investment angle on climate action can hollow out the developmental. The danger of a strictly Western frame and American gaze on climate action is to reduce an opportunity for sociocultural transformation into dollars and cents. There is a dimension of climate action that could genuinely redefine what is “sustainable” in sustainable development — the chance to promote local control of community-defined sustainable development. What good is green/clean infrastructure if it doesn’t change the behavioral and sociological causes of environmental degradation from overconsumption and exploitive development?


Is it right to devise a campaign to reduce carbon emissions or adopt clean energy alternatives that would resonate equally in all regions if we know these regions’ priorities to be effective governance, survival from extreme weather, and ending extreme poverty, first and foremost?

The truth is:

(1) Powerful interests must be held accountable; aligning ourselves and our communities with their investment pet projects without asserting the primacy of local control and community-defined development doesn’t do that.

(2) Development could be made more inclusive and responsive to local priorities; prescribing a narrow set of climate actions without active consultation with vulnerable communities doesn’t do that.

(3) Transformational leadership is about widening meaningful community engagement; massaging our messaging to better market a narrow set of solutions doesn’t do that.

Is it right to devise a campaign to reduce carbon emissions or adopt clean energy alternatives that would resonate equally in all regions if we know these regions’ priorities to be effective governance, survival from extreme weather, and ending extreme poverty, first and foremost?


View updates on our climate resilience advocacy on Facebook: Search Goodbranch Vergara


FeudArt is one way for Goodbranch Vergara to reach its audience. Goodbranch Vergara promotes climate change adaptation within the context of community resilience, its belief that health policy is climate policy, and vice versa. Support our work by getting involved.  Follow us

To promote community and human development as methods for climate change adaptation in vulnerable regions.
Company Overview
Goodbranch Vergara is an LLC based in California. Goodbranch Vergara is focused on linking climate change adaptation with rural and human development. Our projects currently promote community education on the link between health disparity elimination and climate change adaptation. One of our core programs, Conscious Youth Promoting Health & Environmental Readiness (CYPHER), is focused on youth engagement in the U.S., and strategic countries in Africa and Southeast Asia where communities most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and health disparity reside.Help support our work by volunteering or spreading the word.Visit for your formal Barong Tagalog and informal guayabera needs. They support our efforts.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” – John 15:5,8
For more info, email or skype at r.bong.vergara

PH Inquirer: “Philippine economy a rare bright spot”

S&P says PH economy a ‘rare bright spot’

ASEAN reaffirms plan on economic integration


11:40 pm | Friday, June 1st, 2012
share220  200

“The economic forecast for many countries these days ranges from shaky to dismal, especially among industrialized countries. Yet, the Philippines and Indonesia stand out as rare examples of emerging Asian economies with positive rating outlooks.

According to a report titled “Two Emerging Asian Economies Stand Out With Positive Outlooks Amid Sobering Economic News Elsewhere,” just published on RatingsDirect, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said that these two countries were among only 10 in the world that have positive rating outlooks, and none were industrialized economies.

Generally, the bond markets are treating the Philippines and Indonesia pretty well. And the cost to insure the two countries’ debt using credit default swaps also illustrates the favorable treatment the credit markets are giving the two countries.

Meantime, Southeast Asian countries have reaffirmed plans to integrate their economies by 2015, carrying hopes the move will make the region a key growth leader for the global economy.

At the end of the three-day World Economic Forum for East Asia held in Bangkok Friday, member-countries of the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) committed to pursue the Asean integration plan as scheduled by 2015.

Under the economic integration plan, their financial systems and capital markets will be interconnected, trade will be easier through the elimination of many tariffs, and freer movement of labor across borders will be allowed.

In a statement released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Southeast Asian leaders cited the benefits of an integrated region. “Leaders of four Asean countries reaffirmed the 10-member grouping’s commitment to form the Asean Economic Community as scheduled in 2015,” WEF said in the statement.

WEF said Asean members also raised hopes the group would be joined by other Asian countries in the future.

The economic integration by 2015 is expected to transform Southeast Asia into a major growth force in Asia and the world, together with China and India.

The Philippines is supportive of the region’s integration, saying doing so would help accelerate growth of member-economies. The country’s economic officials believe the integration will help member-countries pursue the goal of “inclusive” growth.

Economists said that while the Philippines and other emerging Asian countries were cited for their respectable growth rates despite problems hounding advanced Western economies, they continued to suffer from growth that was not inclusive.

Inclusive growth is one that actually translates to poverty reduction and does not benefit only the rich. In the Philippines, poverty incidence remains high even as the economy has consistently grown over the years.”

With a report from Reuters

SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer Online,

Ancient pre-Hispanic boat unearthed

‘Centuries-old fourth Balanghai boat excavated in Butuan City

Text and photos by Erwin Mascarinas, · Thursday, May 31, 2012 · 3:32 pm

A museum technician of the National Museum cleans parts of the wooden plank of the boat to remove mud during the archeological excavation of the fourth Balanghai Boat in Barangay Libertad in Butuan City. Photo by Erwin Mascarinas,

“BUTUAN CITY—Two decades after the first three centuries-old Balanghai boats, or ancient wooden watercraft, were dug out, six archaeologists from the Philippine National Museum in Manila together with personnel from the Regional Museum here have excavated the fourth Balanghai boat where the previous three boats were dug back in the 1980′s at the Ambangan site in Barangay Libertad.

Wilfredo Ronquillo, Chief Archaeologist of Philippine National Museum expressed how impressed he and his team are of the rich historic cultural heritage of Butuan.

Ronquillo said, “The people who have been studying these kinds of technology saw that there are slight differences in how it was constructed compared to the previous boats dug here. They are not identical, although the general scheme is almost the same. The artistic ways of each boat maker, the skill of our early predecessors are what we see here. When they made this, there was no blue print, no plans. It’s amazing.”

Workers continue to dig on the excavation site of the fourth Balanghai boat. Photo by Erwin Mascarinas,

The chief archaeologist added that they hope to open the site, expose the boat, study, measure, and extract all data that can be generated from it and in comparison with the other boats of South-East Asia.

Ligaya Lacsina, Museum Researcher 1 of the Archaeology Division of the National Museum explained, “It is interesting because compared to excavated Indonesian and Malaysian boats, they have points that show similar boat construction techniques. They use the same shell-first boat building, with the planks connected edge to edge using the wooden dowels. And they are lashed with the dugs to flexible rids. They just lashed it with fibers, nails are not used.”

Lacsima who is currently studying for her doctorate degree on archaeology in Australia is doing research studies on traditional boat-building especially on South East Asian boat-building traditions.

She pointed out that compared to those discovered on the oldest site found in Malaysia, which dates around third or fourth century AD, there is only a slight difference between the two regarding their construction because there are indications that the fourth Balanghai’s creators also used the sewing technology.  One major difference she observed is that they use edge-pegging of the planks together with sewing.

Alfredo Orogo, National Museum Researcher suggested that the work being done at the moment is just an initial digging and it might take two to three months, depending on the budget.

Orogo added, “Maybe this coming June, there will be another team of researcher who will come and continue the research and excavation. The plan for the Balangay 4 is to let it remain after exposing.  This will be made into a site museum and become one of Butuan City’s tourist destinations.”

The flotilla of the Balanghai Boats was accidentally discovered by treasure hunters back in 1976 after which archaeologists from the National Museum took over the site and recorded nine boats buried in the ground.

From the nine original boats discovered in Barangay Libertad, Balanghais 1, 2, and 5 were dug up. Balanghai 1 is dated back to 320 AD, Boat 2 to 1250 AD, and Boat 5 to around 900 AD. Balanghai Boats 1,2 and 5 were declared back in March 9, 1986 as National Cultural Treasures under Proclamation 86 by the late President Cory Aquino. Boat 2 is now on display at the Maritime Hall of the National Museum in Manila. While Boat 5, which has the most intact structure, is displayed at the National Museum site in Barangay Libertad in Butuan City.

An archeologist from the National Museum inspects a broken pottery found beside the wooden remains of the boat—proof of a thriving civilization long before the Spanish colonizers arrived in the Philippines. Photo by Erwin Mascarinas,

The discovery of the boats sealed the claim that Butuan City was once a seafaring community trading with Srivijayan Empire in Southeast Asia and China as early as 10th century AD. So far, shards of pottery also found in the fourth Balanghai boat site further indicate the thriving civilization in Butuan, and the Philippines in general, long before the arrival of Spanish colonizers. The Balanghai Boats are also referred to as Butuan boats.”


Industrialization urged as one anti-poverty solution

ADB urges Philippines to push industrialization in cutting poverty


MANILA, Philippines—The Asian Development Bank has urged the Philippines to aim for high level of industrialization—indicated by an ability to produce and export more goods—to squarely address the long-standing problem of poverty.

In a comprehensive study on the Philippines titled “Taking the Right Road to Inclusive Growth,” ADB said poverty incidence in the country has remained high, even if the economy has been growing year after year, because of weak industrialization.

ADB said that the services sector, led by businessprocess outsourcing (BPO) firms such as call centers, has indeed helped keep the economy growing but the sector’s success has not had a significant effect toward poverty reduction. The country could lift more people out of poverty by boosting the industry sector, including manufacturing, the ADB said.

The industry sector, unlike the service sector, is capital-intensive and provides jobs even to individuals with low educational attainment, according to the ADB.

Latest official poverty statistics showed that Filipinos living below the poverty line accounted for 26.5 percent of the country’s population as of 2009, the highest among emerging Asian economies. The figure marked an increase from the 26.4 percent in 2006 and the 24.4 percent in 2003, even as the economy actually grew during the period.

“Despite high and sustained growth over the 2000s, the Philippines has failed to generate inclusive growth that is broad-based across the sectors and benefits the entire population. The country’s standing problems of unemployment, poverty and low investments remain,” the ADB said in the report.

To achieve the level of industrialization that the country needs to trim poverty incidence, the Philippines must come up with a road map that identifies measures that will increase private-sector investments in the production of more goods, besides intermediate electronics goods that account for the bulk of the country’s export revenues, according to the ADB.

One policy recommendation is for the country to identify more products that it can competitively sell offshore so that export revenues will rise and more domestic jobs will be created. ADB pointed to a wide range of products – from machinery, food and jewelry to musical instruments and fabrics – that the Philippines couldinvest in to become a more competitive exporting country.

Once the products are identified, the government should implement measures that will address problems that prevent the private sector from investing in the manufacture of these products, according to the ADB.

ADB suggested the creation of councils that would be in charge of conducting dialogues between the government and the private sector on the needs of the latter to invest and generate decent profits.

“This problem (of inviting private firms to invest in target products) could be alleviated by setting up an institution to interact with the private sector in identifying firms’ obstacles in exporting new goods, and determining the most appropriate interventions,” ADB said.

ADB said that other emerging Asian economies, unlike the Philippines, were able to significantly trim their poverty rates over the past decade because of stronger efforts toward industrialization.

“This is not to suggest that the growing services sector, in particular the BPO industry, should not be the centerpiece of the long-term development strategy… [However], without dynamic industrial development, the country will continue to suffer from the long-standing problems of high unemployment, slow poverty reduction, and low investment,” the ADB said.

SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer Online,

California’s cap-and-trade law: A win-win legislative template for greening and raising government income in the 21st century

Could this be a learning opportunity for other legislatures, including that of the Philippines? Legislators and policymakers truly committed to mitigating the impact of a changing climate has a real-life economic and social policy experiment to observe in California. I hope many will watch, learn, and follow suit.

**** From Silicon Valley Mercury News ****

Windfall of cash could hit state treasury from global warming program

By Paul Rogers

Posted:   04/07/2012 03:03:39 PM PDT
Updated:   04/08/2012 04:26:39 AM PDT

For the past 10 years, California has struggled with huge budget deficits and wrenching cuts. Suddenly, however, the state is poised to raise billions from an unusual new source: the proceeds from its landmark global warming law.

The windfall could come as soon as this fall, when state officials are set to begin auctioning off pollution credits to oil refineries, power plants and other major polluters as part of a new “cap-and-trade” system.

The amounts are potentially enormous: from $1 billion to $3 billion a year in 2012 and 2013, jumping to as high as $14 billion a year by 2015, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office. By comparison, the state’s current budget deficit is $9 billion.

But like thirsty castaways on an island surrounded by ocean water they can’t drink, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators face strict constraints on how they can spend the money. More than 30 years of court rulings and ballot measures — dating to Proposition 13 in 1978 — limit its use, probably only to projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To add another hurdle, major business groups are preparing lawsuits, arguing that the state cannot collect the money at all.

Still, Brown and others in the Capitol are cautiously making plans. On Monday, the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority slipped into a news release that the money would be used as “a backstop” that could save the struggling bullet-train project.

And in a follow-up interview with this newspaper, Dan Richard, chairman of the rail authority, asserted that a large portion of the money could go to fund high-speed rail.

Everyone from environmentalists to utility companies are jostling for ways to spend the money. The wish lists include renewable energy projects, bus systems and forest restoration.

“This is a moment of significant historic importance,” said V. John White, director of the nonprofit Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology in Sacramento. “But we need to be careful about how we spend it until we know for sure that it is going to be there.”

Business and taxpayer groups contend that the state has no right to auction off the permits. They argue that AB 32, the state’s global-warming law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, does not specifically authorize auctions and that permits to pollute must be handed out free. They say if the state wants to charge money for the permits, it will need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature — a political impossibility because Republicans oppose the law and raising any new fees or taxes.

“This wasn’t intended. It wasn’t discussed,” said Dorothy Rothrock, vice president of the California

Manufacturers and Technology Association. “It’s outrageous and probably illegal.”

However, some legal experts say the state stands a good chance of winning in court. They note that AB 32 requires the California Air Resources Board to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming by using “market mechanisms” — and that auctions are a common market tool used in places such as Europe and the Northeast with cap-and-trade programs.

“I think the most fair reading of AB 32 is that it did allow the Air Resources Board to create market mechanisms that do include an auction,” said attorney Cara Horowitz with UCLA’s School of Law. “The Legislature gave the Air Resources Board very broad authority.”

Even if the state wins a lawsuit, expected to be filed this summer, it almost certainly cannot spend the new billions on schools, roads, health care or other needs.

That’s because of a 15-year-old state Supreme Court ruling involving paint. In 1991, Gov. Pete Wilson signed a law placing a fee on companies that made lead paint. The money was used to fund programs reducing lead poisoning in children.

Sinclair Paint sued, arguing that Proposition 13 required a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to approve such fees. But the state’s high court ruled that California can charge industries with fees as long as the money is used to offset the health or environmental effects of the industry’s behavior.

The Brown administration argues that spending the global-warming money on bullet trains complies with the ruling because the trains would cut pollution by reducing car and airplane trips.

“These funds are being raised for reducing greenhouse gases and cannot be spent outside of that purpose,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Finance Department. “It’s like the way you can’t spend money from school bonds to build highways.”

A similar program in 10 Northeastern states raised $912 million from industry auctions from 2008 to 2011. The most common way the states used the proceeds was to fund programs to help provide insulation, new windows, efficient appliances and lighting to homes and businesses.

Brown’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 includes $1 billion from cap-and-trade auction revenues, but doesn’t specify exactly how they would be used.

The first phase of the bullet-train project, from Merced to Los Angeles, is estimated to cost $32 billion. But the state now has just $12 billion from state bonds and federal grants. Richard, the rail authority’s chairman, said the global-warming funds could potentially make up $10 billion or more. “If it’s an insurance policy, it needs to be able to insure the whole thing, and I think it does,” he said.

The project’s critics are fuming that it might be saved by AB 32. “It’s the perfect melding between two boondoggles,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Critics also argue that the global-warming fees will be passed on to consumers, raising gasoline prices and utility bills. But AB 32 supporters note that the law has broad public support: Voters defeated a ballot attempt in 2010 by oil companies to block it.

Environmentalists also point out that cap-and-trade was originally a Republican idea, originated by business interests and first put into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, when it was used to offer incentives to industry to reduce emissions that cause acid rain.

Since then, those emissions have been cut by 65 percent.

“Our goal for the new revenue is to speed and encourage California’s transition to cleaner sources of energy,” said Alex Jackson, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There’s a lot of things that could fit that mold.”

SOURCE: Silicon Valley Mercury News Online,, April 8, 2012.

Let tanks be beaten into tractors


About three years ago, I posted this because it struck a cord as the first African American U.S. President was inaugurated. I reprise it for three reasons:

(1) as the 2012 U.S. Presidential election nears, let us not be manipulated to forgive the backwardness of the modern Republican party,

(2) as we can only watch from afar the unrest in the Middle East, may those readers of mine in the region be reminded that they inspire us all by their activism and selflessness, and

(3) with positive news of Philippine economic growth dominating the broad sheets at home, may Filipinos at home and abroad optimize this moment to beat tanks into tractors, indeed, both by defeating the forces of political obstructionism and righting the backward thinking of old oligarchs.


***** Originally posted January 23, 2009 *****

“Let tanks be beaten into tractors” — paraphrased words of Rev. Joseph Lowery as he closed, with a light-hearted prayer, the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.

These are words, which, despite their simplicity, articulate a profound message that is applicable to many places across the modern world, including the Philippines: Choose collaboration over acrimony, honest pragmatism over worn-out dogma, development over discord. In a period of deep turmoil and worsening finances, this message is not hollow; and it is neither lofty, nor naive. It is healing. It is necessary. It is transformative.

‘Do-nothing’ politics destroys. ‘Do-nothing’ politics is the useless tank in Philippine society. It is what is childish and irresponsible; it is neglectful, and it is what has driven the once ‘Pearl of the Orient’ into a country whose citizens dream to flee.  It is time to dispose of the Filipino ‘trapos’ that are responsible; and we can’t delay for these ‘trapos’ number many.

Big man politics? Out. Low expectations? Out. Lack of personal accountability? Out. Now is the season for major social and political Spring cleaning, of sorts. Out with the old, in with the new and more useful.

This period in history demands better things, higher expectations. Why shouldn’t Filipinos expect a home-grown leader from the same mold as Barack Obama? Why shouldn’t we strive to be better versions of ourselves?

As Obama said about those who are cynical of the potential of this moment in history, the ground has, indeed, shifted beneath them. Also in the words of Obama, this is the time to shed “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long” and to ask “not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage … a retirement that is dignified.” This is the time to dispose of the foes of real community and national progress: ‘do-nothing’ politics and its dispensable ‘trapos.’