Shoot First: SIGNOS
Climate Refugees in the Philippines
￼SIGNOS is a re-examination of the word “resilience.” People throw it around and say that Filipinos are “weatherproof” or “bulletproof.” But when you see things on the ground, [those words] disregard how Filipinos, and generally people who are displaced, cope.
￼Of course they had to cope; they had no other choice. I think it was very disrespectful of their space, their experience. I hardly hear anyone say Japanese people are resilient after the tsunami. And there are a lot of other issues apart from the environmental issues post-Yolanda. Security, shelter, human trafficking, physical and sexual abuse—a lot of these are side-tracked when you say we’re all resilient. That sort of whitewashes it.
￼The term “signos” means “a sign of things to come.” I came to realize that stories [about climate change] are very hard to push to audiences. It’s full of jargon, full of words that are hard to understand, and it can get boring. On the flip side, it could come off as apocalyptic. So I had to manage all these narrative humps to come up with something balanced; something to give the audience but at the same time also trigger them to think.
One of the hardest parts of [the project] is how to make people—especially the ones who feel safer than most, say those who are living in gated villages or the general public—understand how to make them do their part. In a time of “alternative facts,” using images and the mini-stories to illustrate the bigger picture, that’s my way of combatting [naysayers]. We as observers are too focused on the obvious, such as melting ice caps, typhoons and floods, [when in fact] the most important aspect [of climate change] is the survival of displaced communities.