Climate refugees in the Philippines,Veejay villafranca
: 1st – 30th November 2016

Displaced Earth

For the millions of people in Metro Manila living in between margins and surrounding farming regions, the effect of changing weather patterns is starting to have an even greater impact on their lives.

Extreme drought is destroying rice paddies in the northern provinces, making it hard for farmers to meet quotas every harvest season, while the dams that provide water to the megalopolis such as Angat Dam in Bulacan province are dropping to alarmingly low levels during dry season. As the monsoon and typhoon season comes, torrential rains and typhoons displace  tens of thousands of families living in and around Manila.

In the 3rd quarter of 2009, back-to-back typhoons Ketsana and Parma ravaged the central and northern provinces of the Philippines. Nearly 1,000 people died in the two storms, and thousands more were displaced, according to the National Disaster and Coordinating Council. About 80 percent of Manila was submerged at one point of the disaster, while landslides wiped out houses in remote mountainous areas and vast amounts of precious crops were destroyed.

After the tragedy, thousands of people who lost their homes were faced with the dilemma of continuing to live in areas vulnerable to extreme weather or seek refuge elsewhere. But in reality for many their only choice was to stay.

In 2010, at least one million of the 90 million Filipinos were refugees in their own land due to the impacts of extreme weather, according to an investigative report published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer with figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The nation’s fast-growing population, chaotic urban planning and corruption are all adding to the problem. Manila is sinking due to over pumping of ground water for daily use, according to geologists from a consortium of governmental agencies and other aid organizations. Watershed areas are being destroyed for new settlements. And sewage systems are becoming increasingly clogged so that floods are exacerbated whenever floods hit Manila.

This project aims to illustrate different scenarios caused by severe weather patterns (El Nino & La Nina). The photographic project focuses on communities displaced due to the danger posed or caused by massive flooding. It also shows farming communities in nearby provinces that are greatly affected by drought.

This project aims to give a face to those who are greatly affected by climate change and live under the continuous threat of severe weather events. What is sometimes overlooked in the mainstream media outlets are the long-term effects of the disasters, or a follow-up on the lives of the people who were displaced.

While scientists still debate the extent that climate change is having on weather patterns, the world is undoubtedtly getting hotter. The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization reported in November 2011 that 13 of the warmest years on record had occurred in the past 15 years.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has also warned that tens of millions of people living in poorer countries will be most vulnerable to the worsening impacts of climate change.

In a succession of images, the project visually tells us the consequences Filipinos will face if we do not act up and combat this pressing issue.


기후 변화는 마닐라 대도시의 변두리 농업지구 주변에 살고 있는 수백만 명의 사람들을 더 크게 타격하기 시작했다. 이 사진 프로젝트는 엘니뇨나 라니냐와 같은 심각한 기후 패턴들에 의한 여러 피해를 묘사하는 데에 주목한다. 또한 거대 홍수로 인해 피난가야 했던 지역 사회들과 가뭄을 맞은 근처 지역의 농업 지구의 사태를 보여주는 것에 중점을 두고 있다. 이 프로젝트는 극심한 기후 변화로 인해 지속적인 위협을 받는 사람들의 목소리가 되어준다. 장기적인 재앙, 혹은 피난민들의 뒷이야기는 주류 매스컴이 때때로 간과하기 때문이다.

VICENTE JAIME VILLAFRANCA (b. 1982 Manila, Philippines)

He started his career as a staff photojournalist for the national news magazine, Philippines Graphic and then going freelance in 2006. He then worked with international wire agencies such as Agence France Presse, Reuters, World Picture Network and the United Nations IRIN news wire before concentrating on his personal documentary projects.
His project about the lives of former gang members in one of Manila’s dangerous slums, BASECO compound, garnered him the 2008 Ian Parry Scholarship grant in London. He is also a full scholar at the Asian Center for Journalism Photojournalism program managed by the World Press Photo Foundation in 2007-2008, and the 2nd artist to hold residence in the Crossing Point program held in Perpignan, France in 2008. He was also part of the 2013 Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam covering the theme of ‘hope’.

His images has been exhibited in London, Lithuania, Hongkong, Phnom Pehn, France, Portugal, Norway, Thailand, Turkey and Manila. Veejay’s continued effort in producing in-depth and personal stories has brought him to different parts of the Philippines and Asia.

Veejay’s ongoing projects evolve around the Filipino faith as a dying culture and other religious/spiritual practices, the reserved space and ancestral land for ethnic tribes and migration due to climate change in Southeast Asia apart from his project with the gangs.’

그는 국내 뉴스 잡지의 스텝 보도사진가로서 경력을 쌓기 시작했다. 그는 필리핀 그래픽스에서 일한 이후 2006년에 프리랜서로 활동했고, 그 뒤 프랑스 통신사, 로이터 통신사, 월드 픽쳐 네트워크, 유엔의 IRIN 통신사와 같은 국제적 뉴스 통신사들과 일을 했다. 이후 그는 개인 다큐멘터리 프로젝트에 집중하기 시작했다. 특히 BASECO compound라는 슬럼가의 범죄 조직 일원이었던 사람들의 삶을 다루었던 그의 프로젝트는 그에게 2008년 Ian Parry 장학재단의 지급을 안겨주었다. 또한 2007-2008 세계보도사진전이 경영하는 저널리즘/사진 보도 프로그램의 아시아인 센터에서 전액 장학생으로 선발되었으며 2008년 프랑스 페르피냥의 Crossing Point 프로그램에서 입주하게 된 두 번째 작가였다. 2013 암스테르담의 Joop Swart Masterclass에는 “희망”이라는 테마로 참여하기도 했다.


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