in: Felicitas Hillmann / Marie Pahl / Birte Rafflenbeul / Harald Sterly (eds.), Environmental change, adaptation and migration: bringing in the region, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 98-116
The Philippine archipelago of 7,107 islands is known for being one of the most vulnerable countries to climatic change. It has also been known for its cross-border migrant workers, who comprise 10 per cent of the whole population. In this paper, we discuss the role of a priori cross-border migration in strengthening international humanitarian response to the negative impacts brought by typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The response has been driven by either familial affiliation of cross-border migrants to the affected provinces or national affiliation of cross-border migrants to the Philippines itself. These two types of networks also lead to two different but not mutually exclusive emerging systemic responses to environmental change and here we draw parallelisms with typhoon Ketsana in 2009. First, familial affiliation of those affected reinforces migration through immigration relief opportunities such as those offered by Canada and United States. Second, cross-border Filipino migrants, either with familial affiliation or not to typhoon victims, become transnational activists during extreme weather events in the Philippines affecting at least 900 000 families. Drawing on interviews with “transnational activists” and on personal accounts and experience of the authors in becoming transnational activists, this paper postulates that socio-economic cross-border migration can support the demands of environmental changes at the onset and that the dialogue and relationship between the phenomena of environmental change and mobility can be approached through analyzing transnational migrant networks in the context of cosmopolitanism.