I am now aboard Greenpeace’s most iconic ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in Tacloban in Eastern Visayas, the region of the Philippines hit hardest by super-typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013, and the last stop on the Philippine leg of its 5-month “Climate Change and People Power” Southeast Asia ship tour. During her sail across Manila, Batangas, Guimaras and Tacloban to help build support and solidarity with people who fight for climate justice, I had the opportunity to meet our three volunteers onboard. They join the “Balangaw: The Climate Justice Ship Tour” for the 20-day journey to help not just with campaigning, but with everything else they can for the ship crew.

How did they end up sailing with Greenpeace? Let’s find out from our rainbow warriors on board.

Making small changes. One step at a time.
Ron Faurillo, 37, Volunteer Deckhand.

Ron is no stranger to the sea and waves. As a former crew for a shipping company in the UK, Ron is familiar with sailing and this is his second time onboard a GP ship after the Esperanza’s “Ocean Defender Tour of Southeast Asia in 2013. Now he is a volunteer deckhand. His job here is to clean different parts of the ship and help support all the duties assigned by the ship crew. Not ideally a job everyone would dream of, but when he was asked to join the ship, he did not hesitate to say yes.

Ron Faurillo, volunteer deckhand ©Noel Guevara/Greenpeace

“That is one of the things that I can contribute to the environment. And this ship tour is about climate justice, the campaign that is related to my hometown, Sagñay in Camarines Sur. We were among those affected by typhoon Nina that hit the Bicol region in 2016. All of our coconuts, bananas and other crops were washed out. Houses were destroyed. No electricity. What’s worse is that our area didn’t receive help. Typhoons hit every year and they’re stronger every year.” Ron said.

In 2013, he decided to join Greenpeace’s campaign activity in Freedom Island, and that was how his journey with us began. “While I was with the shipping company, I told myself that whenever I have time, I will be a volunteer for Greenpeace,” Ron recounted his impression and how he knew that he had to get involved when he saw the activity on the Greenpeace Facebook page.

During 2014, Ron joined the Climate Walk to Tacloban City from Manila — a distance of almost 1,000 kilometers — along with other environment advocates. It was exactly a year since the super-typhoon first made landfall. His experience with the walk had driven him to become a vegan. Each activity led to another, and Ron is now one of our most passionate activists.

“My biggest dream is to build small communities of farmers that we can learn from, and who can learn from us as well. I am a part of the community working to make each community fair to all. I don’t want big changes in the world. But with communities, you can make changes one step at a time,” Ron added. “We must be collective and inspire each other. We must look to the bottom and move forward horizontally. Be humble. Make the movement bigger and bigger. If it will not happen today it will happen tomorrow. Just don’t give up.”

Eat sustainably. Choose plant-based food.
Meil Isbon L. Mangana, 27, Assistant Cook

“What I love about being on the Rainbow Warrior most is cooking. But apart from that, I love people here; their bond, their compassion. We are like a big family. It makes work easier. I don’t have to deal with toxic people. People are motivated and work with passion. They work for what they believe in.” – Bonski

Meil Isbon L. Mangana, Assistant Cook. © Noel Guevara / Greenpeace

As the saying goes, “the kitchen is the heart of the home.” The galley is one of the most important places for the Rainbow Warrior and for Meil Isbon L. Mangana, who is working here as the assistant cook.  It was his first time onboard but Meil Isbon, or Bonski, is already in love with the ship. He calls it his home, and his crewmates, his family. His roles here are mostly doing the prep work for the chef, for example washing the vegetables used to make the salads. His passion stems from his childhood experiences. “I grew up in the school cafeteria. My mom was the supervisor. By helping out my mom, I got my eternal passion for cooking.” Bonski said.

Bonski started off in 2008 as one of the activist who joined Greenpeace to stop a proposed coal-fired power plant in Ingoré, Iloilo. He admires people who do something for the environment, especially now when the Philippines is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“With the stuff you eat, with everything you do, all these affect the environment. I learned more about the relationship of food and the environment from Daniel Bravo, our chef. What we eat, what we consume has bigger impacts to the climate as a whole.” Bonski added passionately. He explained to us that most of the food we consume here is plant-based, comes from small farmers, and is free of GMOs, palm oil and deforestation. Everything is carefully selected to be natural and organic, as much as possible.

“Volunteering here is life-changing and eye-opening for me. Greenpeace is working hard on every aspect of saving Mother Earth. Anyone can give a hand, not just for Greenpeace, but to help save our planet.” Bonski concluded.

Witness the world from different perspectives
Joselito Sepe, 21, Volunteer Deckhand and Assistant Engineer

Joselito Sepe can be found greeting you with a big smile on his face, which lifts the spirit of the ship, everytime. Ito is an undergraduate studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.

Joselito Sepe, Volunteer Deckhand and Assistant Engineer. © Noel Guevara / Greenpeace

Despite his young age, Ito has been volunteering with Greenpeace for over a year now. It was always his dream to be able to make his mark in the world and lessen the impacts of climate change.

“It’s nice to volunteer because it comes from the heart. Volunteering makes me happy because I'm doing something good for the communities, the environment and the animals. It’s therapeutic and can keep you happy. It also increases my self confidence. I also want the future generations to witness how beautiful it is to live in a world where there's no chaos.” Ito said, grinning.

His initial roles here are as Volunteer Deckhand and to assist the engineer. But when he was asked what he loves most about being on the Rainbow Warrior, he gave us a very cheerful answer:

“I love healthy living, organic food and experiencing the sea at night. I love seeing the moonlight without the glare of city lights. Being on board as a volunteer makes it exciting because I’m able to help the crew with their tasks as a volunteer deckhand. I am able to help the engineers with their jobs as well.

“My message to people as an activist for Greenpeace is: make your mark in the world; help each other; hand-in-hand and all together make the world better. Now is the time to act for Mother Nature because we're already in a “state of no return” because we have surpassed the carbon dioxide threshold. Believe in "strength in numbers," because you are not alone, you can share your thoughts and perspectives with each volunteer. Together, we can make a big impact. That's the point of being a volunteer, because you’re not alone.”

Many inspiring stories are still left untold. Come on board and experience the spirit of Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior and listen to more stories from the volunteers, the ship crew, and the communities. Join us as we journey together with the Rainbow Warrior in our quest for climate justice.

Rattanasiri Kittikongnapang is a Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia based in Thailand.