Where is Tagalog spoken?

  • There are around 35.2 million native Tagalog speakers in the world, with about 21.4 million native speakers in the Philippines (map below). Tagalog (along with English) is one of the official languages of the Philippines, but it’s also one of many regional languages in the archipelago, originating from the northern island of Luzon. Outside of the Philippines, the most native Tagalog speakers live in the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Map of the Philippines, in the western Pacific Ocean, east of the Asian continent (from Encyclopædia Britannica). Tagalog originates from the largest and northernmost island of Luzon, where the capital city of Manila is located.

Climate education in the Philippines

Climate Education Policies and Programs

  • The Philippines is facing a variety of climate change threats, including more frequent and intensified tropical cyclones or typhoons, sea level rise, and loss of sea life due to ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures. Typhoons in particular pose a huge threat to the Philippines: according to Amnesty International in 2021, the archipelago was hit with an average of 20 typhoons per year, which create a tremendous amount of damage and leave millions homeless.
  • The progression of these climate threats in recent years has made more Filipinos concerned about climate change. In 2022, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a climate awareness survey wherein 64.3% of Filipinos said that they found “a serious and immediate threat to the well-being of my country”, and 33.3% said that climate change is “an important issue that deserves to be monitored.” Additionally, on average Filipinos ranked the likelihood of climate change negatively impacting their life as 8.4 on a scale of 1 to 10, which was the highest ranking out of the 10 countries surveyed. 
    • However, in the same ASEAN survey, 66.2% of Filipinos were unsure if their country had net-zero carbon emissions goals and 13.5% wrongly responded that the Philippines had such goals in place. While climate change is discussed in secondary education classes, and most Filipinos are familiar with the effects of climate change, the country’s actual actions and policies are not generally taught.

A photo of a highway covered in smog in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, taken in 2012 (from reuters.com). Among other problems caused by fossil fuel consumption, air pollution significantly impacts Filipinos (especially in cities).

  • Filipino policies on climate change education (CCE) are motivated primarily by the effects of climate change, especially on students. 43,810 of almost 47,000 public schools in the Philippines have experienced natural disasters like typhoons and floodwaters at least once in eight years. This fact has been cited by the Department of Education as a key reason for establishing more widespread comprehensive climate change education. Additionally, growing concerns and activism about climate change from youth and Indigenous groups are another motivating factor for Filipino climate education.
    • One notable program is the Climate Action Training for Adolescents program, which offers online training to 10-18 year olds about climate science, adaptation and mitigation strategies, and suggests ways they could carry out those strategies in their communities. Participants are also able to create their own project proposals for community adaptation and mitigation strategies and receive seed funding to implement them.
    • Another way the Department of Education has tried to make climate change education more accessible has been through their Experts Explain videos, a five-part series of experts discussing subjects like climate change and sustainability. One important feature of this initiative is that it is geared towards students ranging from elementary to college level, meaning that a broader range of students are able to learn about these concepts.
Students from the Zamboanga del Norte National High School (ZNNHS) Turno Campus participating in a march for Youth Strike for Climate (from www.deped.gov.ph). 

Students from the Zamboanga del Norte National High School (ZNNHS) Turno Campus participating in a march for Youth Strike for Climate (from www.deped.gov.ph).

  • A key feature of modern Filipino climate education is supporting student action for environmental change, particularly movements like the Youth Strike for Climate (image above). The Department of Education not only encouraged teachers and students to participate in climate action, but also made sure to work with schools to ensure striking students were excused for their absences from class. 

Disaster Preparedness Education

  • Disaster preparedness is one of the main features of climate change education in the Philippines, since the country is vulnerable to extreme weather events like typhoons and coastal flooding, which are made more frequent and intense by climate change. 
    • Students are taught how to assess codes that indicate the intensity of storms including rainfall warning levels and tropical cyclone wind systems (image below). By learning to interpret such technical codes, students are empowered to make preparations for coming storms/typhoons in an effort to protect themselves and their families.
    • In case students need to quickly evacuate their homes due to flooding or other kinds of damage from rainfall, they are advised to keep a “Go Bag” or emergency kit with the supplies they might need to live outside of their homes (food, water, medical kits, bedding, etc.).

A poster from the Philippine Department of Education explaining the meaning of Tropical Cyclone Wind Signals and tropical cyclone classification (from www.deped.gov.ph, 2021).

Climate and culture in the Philippines

  • The Philippines has a tropical climate, which means that the temperature and humidity are relatively high all year, and rainfall is abundant. Based on temperature and rainfall, there are two seasons: the rainy season (June to November) and the dry season (December to May). 
    • The mean annual temperature of the Philippines is 26.6°C (79.9°F), with the coolest month being January with a mean temperature of 25.5°C (77.9°F) and May being the warmest month with a mean temperature of 28.3°C (82.9°F). However, different regions of the country have different mean temperatures due to altitude: the province of Baguio, for example, is 1,500 meters (4920 feet) above sea level and has a mean annual temperature of 18.3°C (64.9°F). For more information about regional differences in climate in the Philippines, see the map below.
    • The rainfall, humidity and cloudiness in the Philippines are influenced greatly by typhoons, which usually originate from the Marianas and Caroline Islands (to the east of the Philippines and north of Papua New Guinea; map above) and move in a northwestern direction. Because these islands do not extend farther south than the Philippines’ southernmost region Minandao, this region is spared from the majority of typhoons that hit the archipelago.

A map of the Philippines showing 4 major climate zones (from Basconcillo, 2016). While the country as a whole has a tropical climate, the periods of maximum and minimum rain differ between the four regions marked with red, blue, yellow and green on the map, and described in the Legend.

  • Many festivals in the Philippines are tied to the climate because they celebrate the harvest season and the abundance of fruits and vegetables that come with it. 
    • One example is the Pahiyas Festival in the northern Quezon Province, where people adorn their houses with colorful rice decorations, fruits and vegetables (image below). These decorations are meant to display the house’s yearly harvest for a priest to bless during the procession of San Isidro Labrador (patron saint of farmers).

A house decorated with kipings, or colored rice wafers shaped like leaves, rice fronds, and rice seedlings, as well as fruits and vegetables for the Pahiyas Festival (from media.greenpeace.org, 2014).

  • Another example is the Kadayawan Festival in the southern province of Davao, which similarly involves people displaying rice, fruit, and vegetables in front of their houses as a way to express their gratitude for the year’s harvest. Additionally, traditional Indigenous songs and dances are performed in the streets (image below).

Indigenous dancers processing down a street in Davao City carrying mock baskets of fruit (from mindanews.com, 2023). Since the festival centers on the harvest, seasonal fruits like mangosteen and durian (which are ripest in August when the festival takes place) are prominently featured.

  • Rice plays a prominent role in the Filipino diet: there are at least eleven different words in Tagalog for rice! The Philippine Statistics Authority reported in 2020 that the average Filipino consumed 118.8 kg (261.9 lb) of rice annually. Climate change significantly threatens Philippine rice production, both in terms of quality and yield, through changes in precipitation, rising temperatures, and more frequent typhoons. 

Language practice

In progress.

References and additional resources