Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior arrived in General Santos City in Mindanao, to start off the third leg of her “Turn the Tide” tour of Southeast Asia. She is here in the country to highlight Greenpeace’s campaign asking President Aquino to commit to a 50% Renewable Energy target by 2020.

As the Rainbow Warrior sailed into the Saranggani Bay, hundreds of people gathered at the Makar Wharf to meet her. It was a very special day in General Santos. Local groups and members of the community gave a very warm welcome as students in traditional costumes from the Mindanao State University Performing Arts started the festivities with a Lumad dance and later presented the crew with beautiful native hats made from banana leaves and corn husks. Almost a hundred members of the Urban Poor Alliance (UP-ALL) marched all the way from their community center to the port carrying Greenpeace banners saying “Renewable Energy Now” and cartolina posters with handwritten welcoming messages for the Warrior and her crew.

Local leaders and representatives from the city and the province of Saranggani welcomed the Rainbow Warrior in her first stop of the tour in the country. This is her first visit to Mindanao, a region now being targeted by power corporations for their coal projects.  Greenpeace believes that clean and renewable energy is crucial for genuine development.

The day ended with an open boat (the ship was open to thepublic) and hundreds of people came to visit, including students and residents from the community. Local volunteers and supporters cordially extended their assistance to facilitate the simultaneous tours that were going on. This enabled members of the community to learn about the Rainbow Warrior, climate change and the fight against coal.

When the ship arrived, with more than 100 people standing on quayside, I suddenly realized the power of positive action.  We know how powerful the coal industry is but in the same manner, I am humbled to see all the people who believe in the work we do to stop the expansion of this dirty energy source.  I am expecting more than a thousand participants tomorrow and I'm thinking it's going to be a wonderful experience of people coming together, supporting each other and making a difference together.  People from all over the diocese of Marbel, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, Muslims and Christians from all over Sarangani will join the solidarity event tomorrow.  Indeed, we are all stronger together.