HomeBad Ass AsiansFilipina American spoken word poet featured at climate talks

Filipina American spoken word poet featured at climate talks

Isabella Borgeson
Isabella Borgeson

By Ed Diokno

UC grad Isabella Borgeson will perform her poem “Yolanda Winds” at the climate talks in Paris.

The San Francisco Bay Area resident is at the summit where for the next few weeks world leaders and experts have gathered for the climate negotiations.

The Filipina American was one of the four winners of the Spoken Word for the World competition sponsored by the Global Call for Climate Action.

Along with the other winners, Borgeson will be performing her piece in Paris in front of world leaders who are there to discuss how to slow or prevent the global warming that is melting the polar icecaps, creating extreme weather events, and threatening to inundate coastal areas and island nations.

The conference’s ambitious goal is to limit rising global temperatures this century to no more than 2 degrees Celsius – or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit – above pre-industrial levels.

President Barack Obama, who opened the conference Monday (Nov. 30), said that “the United States not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.” But he stressed that all nations must act “right now.”

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Borgeson is a community curator for Adobe Systems, a multinational computer software company based in the Bay Area. Despite her Bay Area ties, however, she is representing the Philippines.

Her entry, “Yolanda Winds,” was inspired by Typhoon Yolanda, also known as Typhoon Haiyan, that devastated the central Philippines late in 2013. Burgeon and her mother, Geline Avila, spent the next two years helping rebuild that region, where her mother was raised.

In her statement to the Spoken Word for the World competition, she wrote:

“Learning about my family’s stories of death and trauma surrounding the ocean was a vivid part of my experience. In my community/family/motherland, climate change means re-learning the ocean … The Ocean is now a mass grave of family members and townsfolk, whose bodies were washed away by storm surge waves during the super typhoon. This piece titled ‘Yolanda Winds’ is dedicated to my mother, a survivor of the super typhoon, who struggles to forgive the sea. A reminder that we are a people of the sea. And for some of our families, sharing our stories about climate change, typhoon seasons and rising oceans is an act of resistance, necessary for our survival.”

Listen to Borgeson’s entry:


(Ed Diokno writes a blog : Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.)


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