Judah Batulan: A climate action leader with a passion for positive change
Judah Batulan, 17, Philippines
My name is Judah “Krista” Reign Batulan, a 17-year-old high school student. I’m studying Accountancy, Business and Management in the 12th grade, but I spent four years studying at a science high school, the Eastern Visayas Regional Science High School, which would explain why I’m so passionate about environmental sustainability and climate change issues.
In the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, we have this thing called the “uh-huh!” moment. This moment signifies your drive to make a change, your eureka moment. I come from a small town in the Visayas Region or the central part of the Philippines. Life here is simple, it’s lush and green. However, on Nov. 8, 2013, exactly 112.2 kilometers away from home, the strongest tropical cyclone (possibly surpassed by Hurricane Patricia) hit Tacloban City.
My town was significantly affected by the cyclone, although not as much as Tacloban. Thousands of local residents died. Dead bodies were everywhere, on the streets, electrical posts, cars, the bridge, and roofs, to name some. Everywhere you looked, dead bodies of men women, children, the rich, the poor and the powerful could be found. There was no escape from it. Families were wiped out, kids were left alone and parents grieved for their losses. The pain and the suffering were unbearable and the hurt was felt throughout the world.
However, goodness eventually prevailed. Aid from all over the world was received, great support was shown and love and sympathy were felt. I honestly don’t know if pain is the only thing that would make us realize and reflect on decisions we previously made that greatly impact people’s lives. That day I knew there was a need for action. Mankind contributed to that crisis, suffering and pain. We were behind it.
I would not say that the typhoon was the start of my awakening because I have been involved in the community since the third grade, but the catastrophe was a wake-up call and a great moment for me to realize the need for climate action. That is why I ran for president of my school’s student council in 2015 and won.
We passed our first environment-related school bill that bans specific types of plastics on campus. It was effective and it worked. Numerous climate actions were done in the same year, like drives cleaning, coastal clean-ups, YES-O Camps and mangrove reforestations.
In the same year, we were tasked by the city to conduct research on the carbon footprints and establish a carbon sink in my own town, hence, the whole year, we dedicated an hour or more per day studying the process of conducting this research.
Recently, it was approved and funded by the WWF and ICLEI. A couple of researches were completed in that year and fortunately, we were invited to present a paper in Penang, Malaysia in 2016. Awareness must always be the start, talk if you have to, share what you can, and educate people what you know. Change must always start with your drive to act upon something, you have to impose change and start a ripple, it becomes a habit, and it becomes a part of your lifestyle.
I left the school to pursue another track but my heart never left the environment. It will always be with and in it. Hence, my work continues. Recently, I was selected to be a delegate at the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Denver, Colorado, United States of America in February 2017. We were trained by a man who has the heart for the environment, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. I built a huge network worldwide and was involved in a non-profit organization which aims to reach a number of climate actions from all over the world, the TEAM 54 Project.
Currently, I am one of the 54 Ambassadors worldwide. I am the youth ambassador of the TEAM 54 so my projects would focus mainly on the young people to ensure that nobody will be left behind.
The environment chooses nobody. This is the part where we are all equal and equal actions from all of us are needed to achieve the sustainable future we sought for. Change must be done.