Small Talk on the Weather
I AM PING MEDINA, AN ACTOR BY profession. I like writing scripts, I like new wave music and portraiture. Although I am color-blind, my favorite colors are pink and black.
Recently, I joined the ongoing “Tik Tok” Campaign for Climate Action. It is an effort of friendship between Oxfam and Dakila. The international campaign name is “Tck Tck Tck,” which enjoys the endorsement of Gael Garcia Bernal’s sexy Mexican accent and Scarlett Johansson’s well-placed body fats.
Although my father Pen Medina is a staunch activist who talks about the big stuff, I like talking about the weather.
It started with Barangay Soup Kitchen—the craziest thing I’ve ever done. “Ondoy” made me stir arroz caldo from midnight to nine in the morning repeatedly. It went straight to places like Bulacan and Marikina as food relief for flood victims.
After that, the Oxfam people gave me more work. They took me to General Santos City, home of Manny “Many Money” Pacquiao, the day after he demolished Miguel “Kuto” Cotto. There were no festivities yet, but we learned from the local fisherfolk were totally unaware of the phrase, “pagbabago ng panahon.” Their daily catch worth P500 went down to P50. Yet they were blaming old issues like dynamite fishing and big-company fishing fleets. Climate change? No, that’s not it, they were saying.
I kept on poking for any sign of disruptions. They said that tuna, Sarangani’s main food product, is harder to catch nowadays. Schools are swimming farther offshore, looking for deeper and cooler waters, away from the ocean’s surface, whose temperature has been steadily rising.
Finally, we get our breakthrough.
Lot of work
When we went back to real life. I discovered a lot of work was left behind for our “Tik Tok Rok” concert on Dec. 12. It is the Global Day For Climate Action—simultaneous concerts all over the world, symbolizing the world’s request to get a fair deal from our global leaders in Copenhagen. So true to my wish for constant disruptions in my life, I took on the job of pursuing the bands that can bring in the big crowds.
Calling up rock stars is the most nerve-wracking thing in the world. Talking to the toughest managers of the biggest bands in the country, you have to be in your super agent Ari Gold mode. Unfortunately, a Saturday in December means the busiest day of the month. Not a single band was staying in Manila.
Yet, it was all worth it. Holding big concerts is the fun counterpart of taking it to the streets. You have amazing artists, like Noel Cabangon, who can stir great emotions through powerful lyrics and a steady guitar. Bands like Itchyworms and Callalily playing in nearby provinces were kind enough to fit us in their busy schedules.
School tours are also nerve-wracking. Specifically, speaking at EARIST before a gymnasium of more than a thousand kids. We try our best to educate them, giving them basic facts on climate change and how to do their part. For something more in-depth, we recommend watching films like “An Inconvenient Truth,” “The Age Of Stupid” and even Leo Dicaprio’s “11th Hour.” A local recommendation would be “Panahon Na!” starring Dingdong Dantes and Nikki Gil, produced by the Department of Energy.
I always say that one of the campaign’s main goals is awareness. Social networking sites have always been the noisy canteen of small talk and gossip. So I suggest, why not small talk about the weather on Facebook? Why not gossip on Twitter, how an arid country like Saudi Arabia can experience unprecedented rainfall, with flash floods drowning more than a hundred people?
Armi Millare, vocalist of Up Dharma Down, was a flood victim of Ondoy. We used to tease her when she gained weight. She was “takot magutom,’ afraid of hunger pangs. But now she’s afraid of something real—the rain. There are groups who give out trauma relief workshops like Art of Living Foundation. Then there are groups like Barangay Soup Kitchen always ready to serve hot arroz caldo. But really, do we want to do this for the next 50 years?
Pretty soon, the term “supertyphoon signal No. 4” will become as desensitized a word as “street kids.” Pretty soon, people will be tweeting: “Curse you, typhoon Chenelyn Mae! Boracay party people are singing with Sebastian to the tune of ‘Under The Sea.’ May you rest in peace.”
Oxfam and Dakila are cordially inviting you to “Tik Tok Rok” Concert for Climate Action on Dec. 12 at Marikina Riverbanks Ampitheater. Let’s listen to great music from some of the top musicians of the industry. In between sets, we can talk about the most mundane things. Except maybe, the weather. Because as Carlos Celdran puts it, “The weather won’t qualify as small talk anymore.”