Marinel Sumook Ubaldo is a 22 year old climate change activist from the Philippines. I am like her because we are both young Filipino women whose families have felt the aftermath of natural disasters in the Philippines, but we are different because I have not experienced the firsthand effect of any natural disaster due to climate change in the Philippines like she has.
She is a survivor of the super-typhoon called Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in 2013. It was the most powerful typhoon in recorded history. Over 7000 people died and around 15 million people were displaced in the Philippines. This typhoon happened as a result of the climate crisis and many people like Marinel were left with nothing. This experience made her realize that it was her duty to fight for climate action from the Filipino Government to protect her community. She is fighting for the government to provide access to clean water, electricity, and housing. She is also urging governments of wealthier countries, who have contributed the most to climate change, to support the countries that are suffering the most from the dangerous effects of climate change.
Because of her activism, the President of France invited Marinel to talk in front of leaders about climate change at the COP21 conference in France. She has also spoken in front of thousands in New York about climate injustice. This makes her different from me because she has been successful in fighting for her cause in front of world leaders who were listening to her.
I chose to talk about Marinel because I wanted to talk about a Filipino activist since activism is often trying to be silenced in the Philippines. There are many allegations made from Filipino climate activists reporting threats from the military and illegal mining companies. Activists are risking so much to address the climate crisis that has been worsened by richer countries like the United States and Canada, who have used poorer countries around the world as dumping grounds for their garbage. These countries are already in vulnerable climate locations and they are experiencing the worst consequences of the climate change crisis.
I think Marinel is inspirational because she reminds people to not underestimate the power of the individual. She came from a remote area in the Philippines but she is speaking out about climate change around the world. I define “inspirational” as someone who gives their all to a movement that they are passionate about. Marinel used a traumatic experience to better her community by speaking out and she got people to listen. An inspirational person to me is someone who is uncompromising and determined to implement real change and Marinel embodies that perfectly.
“Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security” by Todd Miller