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LOOKING BACK AT THE DEADLY SUPER-TYPHOON, FEELING INSPIRED BY THE CLIMATE WALK IN THE PHILIPPINES, AND MAKING ATCHARA, A FILIPINO PICKLE, TO TIE IT ALL TOGETHER.  REFLECTIONS AND A SONG, A RECIPE, AND A VIDEO….

Nearly a year ago, Typhoon Haiyan / Typhoon Yolanda was forming, to assault the Philippines (and other countries too) with incredible violence, killing at least 6,300 people and destroying huge swathes of towns, homes, communities, and property.  The strength of the storm was terrifying, and watching the destruction unfold very upsetting and deeply life-altering for people who lived through it.  For anyone who’d imagined Climate Change in the future, here it was now, announcing itself with fury and catastrophic chaos.

I’ve been moved to follow Climate Walk on line; it’s a demonstration for Climate Justice that started in Manilla and will finish on the anniversary of Yolanda at the Ground-Zero of the storm’s landfall.  The walkers are journeying through the length of the Philippines to remember those who died, to express solidarity with everyone effected, to raise awareness of solutions, to organise resilient responses in town governments and communities, to show how so many still live in such temporary conditions. Everywhere they arrive, they are met with community interest and generosity, with special events organised in each place.  The Walk feels unique to the Philippines, but relevant and inspirational to the climate activists everywhere.

I’m sure every walker would explain their motivations uniquely.  You can see lots of photos on the Facebook site to get a feeling what it’s all about, and seek out the hashtags #climatejusticenow and #climatewalk.  Much of what’s emotionally compelling and politically strategic is that in walking, as a kind of pilgrimage, there’s an acknowledgement of incredible national trauma from which, perhaps, healing can begin, and response for the future can originate.  As it says on the website:

“Climate Walk is borne out of a deep sense of duty to pay homage to communities that confront the realities of climate change, disaster risk, poverty, and environmental abuse. It is a way of reminding the whole world that we have this reality—this madness—to confront.

Climate walk is also to inspire people around the world and to encourage world leaders to take urgent, ambitious actions to confront the climate crisis, highlighting the impacts of climate change on vulnerable countries like the Philippines. The fight against climate change is about us. The strength of our call lies in the collective strength of voices around the world crying out for climate justice. It is only with the voices of others that we ever become stronger.’

Looking at photos of walkers, and the places where they are walking, I was astonished at how little I know about the Philippines, its history, cultures, and even– foodie that I am — its cuisine born of numerous ancient and modern historical influences.  I felt a curiosity and desire coming on, to try to prepare a Filipino food as an excuse to write about Climate Walk on this blog, and also to feel a closer connection to all these people whose action I very much admire.

Having never eaten an authentic version, I have no idea if mine tastes close enough, but here I have for you, Dear Readers, a mid-Wales version of the famous Filipino pickle called Atchara, usually made with unripe papaya or jicama, neither ingredient readily available here.

There are lots of recipes on t’internet, and I based mine on this one.  Here’s what I did:

Play this song, Tayo Tayo, written by Climate Walker Nityalila and recorded live during one of the walkers’ rest day in Allen, Samar while you are chopping your vegetables.  It’s a song about hope and unity in seeking for climate justice and in fighting climate change and has been sung all throughout the walk.

one shredded Swede (rutabaga/ turnip), salted, drained, rinsed
one green pepper
one yellow pepper
two thinly sliced carrots
an onion
a handful of dried currants
hunk of ginger, shredded
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of Pear Scrap Vinegar (Pineapple Scrap Vinegar would have been great!), boiled with quarter cup sugar (this seemed like a lot but I wanted it sweet for some idea of “authentic”). 
 
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Mix everything together and put in a big jar.  Decide to serve in a week, but start eating immediately because you can’t resist it, and serve to your husband who will eat half of the jar in one sitting with his rice and fish in salty soya-saucy teriyaki. Decide that sweet sour pickles are a really wonderful category of pickle.  Resolve to try lacto-fermenting next time, with a late addition of something sweet, for comparison purposes.  Do an internet search for Fermented Foods of the Philippines.  Wish there were a Filipino eatery nearby. Wonder what the Climate Walkers are eating.

And remember that as Climate Walk nears the actual date of the one year anniversary, and the destination of Tacloban, that there are brave, committed people in the world taking action from the heart, working working working for a better world for future generations, and inspiring you to do the same.

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