On November 8, 2013, typhoon Haiyan – the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded -struck the central Philippines. Witnesses who braved the rising floodwaters described the storm surge as the most dangerous element of the whole cyclone. While the drama was building to a frightening crescendo, people, their pets, houses and belongings were swept away for good.
It was my strong urge to make environmental and humanitarian work that makes a difference and raises awareness on how climate change can affect our planet and those who inhabit it. In november 2013 I flew to Tacloban with no contacts whatsoever. and met Filippino families who let me stay at their makeshift homes. This is a documentary on how climate change is increasing the intensity of extreme weather events, displacing millions of people, destroying livelihoods, crops and livestock. Leyte islands mainly depends on coconut plantations and we have seen hundreds of kilometres of coconut groves literally blown away by 300kph winds. A coconut tree takes 12 years to grow, so this is a decade of livelihoods wiped out in a single storm.
I visited many ‘barrangays’ of neighborhoods outside and inside the city. I documented several personal stories of survivors. Next to concentrating on the human condition and photographing different stories of affected people, I walked miles into agricultural land documenting debris and artistically investigating the imaginative stories certain objects radiate. About the owners, effect on the environment, the horrifying moments during the storm and the effect on nature on man – and his belongings. Among other things, I found a photo album at Palo – Leyte, a community that was totally swept away by the flooding storm surge. The fixated chemicals of the emulsion on the photographs reacted in a colourful manner with the sodium chloride of the sea water, slowly eating away the stories these portraits once told. By visually isolating the displaced objects – without displacing once more – I am hoping to give the viewer a similar chance of insight and to let them explore the infinite narrative this holds for me. The debris objects were photographed and afterwards left, as they were found.