It’s been a while since the images coming from the Philippines looked like this. Since the landfall of Typhoon Haiyan on November 8, 2013, the stories and photos on the news have largely depicted scenes of utter devastation. The statistics are overwhelming; thousands killed, hundreds of thousands homeless and without basic necessities. Problems like these do not heal themselves overnight, and though I salute the valiant efforts of the media and relief organizations who responded to the immediate crisis in the hours and days after the disaster, I am always curious about the story that continues once the news cycles have run their course.
The current situation is a story of slow recovery with the local communities largely self-rescuing and involves a staggering statistic: 90 percent of displaced people have resettled on the same plots, and are living in such shelters as they can devise with the existing very limited resources. This leaves these parts of the population even more exposed to future disasters than they were before the storm.
Gut wrenching images traveled the globe as documentary photographers and media outlets rushed to the scene of the storm, but these images of flattened villages and ships tossed ashore need to stand in contrast to something or they are too easily filed away as an abstract problem in an abstract place.
In my study of the Philippines in the wake of the typhoon, I grew aware of the storm and its effects to the country, but also had my eyes opened to an incredibly diverse country of over 7000 islands and a vibrant, happy and energetic culture. A world-class destination for sailing, diving, surfing, hiking, fishing and more, the more I learned about the Philippines, the more I felt the need to see it for myself.
My photography has never lent itself to the conveyance of news or tragedy, my explorations and subsequent captures are part of an ongoing search for the simple, the beautiful, the exotic, the adventurous. And yet, by applying this approach to travels in a land in need of desperate ongoing international support, I hope to inspire a new cycle of giving. Sublime beauty and devastating wreckage are two sides of the same coin, and each can illicit powerful responses.
As I travel through the Philippines for the next 15 days, I’ll have my eyes and mind open to what experiences and sights await, but my photographic goal will be to capture the beauty and soul of an amazing part of the world, and to share this beauty with everyone I can reach.
Upon my return, I’ll release a series of the best images for sale as fine-art prints. The proceeds from the sales of these pieces will be donated to the Philippines Red Cross, the leading relief organization in the ongoing relief and rebuilding in the affected areas of the Philippines. In the mean time, I’ll be sharing photos from the trip via Instagram (#photosforthephilippines) and Facebook as connectivity allows. The more people that take interest in this project, the higher the impact. Please share with your friends and communities, and help me bring visibility to the next phase of Philippines relief.