Photos taken from October 28-31 in Tacloban and Palo in Leyte, Philippines.
Click on the photo above to view the gallery.
On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) made landfall in the Philippines, making it the deadliest storm in the history of the country. From October 28-31, 2014, nearly one year after the typhoon, I visited Tacloban, Leyte, one of the hardest hit areas of the disaster, and photographed landscapes, individuals, artifacts, and graffiti.
Part of this was for my upcoming CCT thesis, which is to have a workshop about the typhoon so that Filipino Americans can explore the disaster and understand the space in a way that stimulates collaboration and dialogue. The goal was twofold: to collect photographs as a type of artwork for workshop participants to react to, and to document my own experience as a type of visual fieldnotes.
The experience was amazing. I am new to photography, and having a camera (that was more than a phone or simple digital device!) changed the way I was conducting my fieldwork. I became more observant, I became more aware of my surroundings, and I began to focus on the landscapes as objects of composition and thought critically about how I could frame them and package them to bring them back "home." As a bonus, a Lynda.com tutorial in Travel Photography was extremely helpful before I left on my trip!
Aside from the photography, the trip itself was very emotionally intense. Talking to survivors of the typhoon was heartbreaking and inspiring. Being on-the-ground put all the media reports, policy briefings, charity fundraisers, and social media announcements into context, and at the same time, drowned out those events and messages. It became a way to interact with the disaster in a much more individual and targeted way.