Young Palauans and other adults held a surprise welcome for a Filipino teenager that went viral online after some netizens questioned his representation of Palau in the world stage in the fight against climate crisis.

Carlos Manuel, 17, a Filipino who has spent most of his life in Palau, had received an overwhelming support and welcome from young Palauans and other adults when he arrived at the Palau International Airport (PIA) Sunday night.

Manuel went viral over the weekend when the news that he was sharing his climate change experience in Palau in one of the events during the United Nations General Assembly in New York   was scrutinized by some individuals.

Manuel was one of the 16 kids that filed a petition to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to hold Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, and Turkey accountable for their inaction on climate crisis. The five countries were named in the complaint because they are the nations that ratified the convention that have the highest carbon emissions.

A few netizens took notice of the absence of any young Palauans in the report of 16 kids filing a complaint against five nations in the UN, saying that it should have been Palauan children who represented Palau in the event.

A lot of Palauans, especially young ones, were quick to call out their fellows and came to the defense of Manuel, emphasizing that they appreciate the Filipino teen for representing them in the world stage.

Manuel arrived at the airport last night to the applaud of young Palauans awaiting his arrival. Some Palauan kids even gave Manuel a hug to show their appreciation for his act.

In an interview, Manuel said that the overwhelming support from his Palauan peers only motivated him more to keep doing what he loves to do.

“This (Palau) is our home. This is the place that I call home and I want to do everything for us to have a better future and life,” Manuel said, adding that climate crisis affects everyone.

A young Palauan, Vicente Pua, who supports Manuel said in an interview: “All these things that were said against Carlos, I do not really get because I grew up with him. We are friends since childhood. All those times together, I no longer see him as a friend but I see him as a brother.”

“Everyone really did not get the real picture of what he was trying to do for Palau. He went out there and was trying to show how climate change is affecting our islands,” Pua said.

Pua said that even though there are some people who disagree with Manuel, there were also many of them who love him and proud of what he is doing for Palau. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)