Aerial view of Guiuan municipality, weeks after Typhoon Haiyan’s landfall. Samar, 2013.
Stalled wall clock, showing the exact time floodwaters reached its height. Leyte, 2014.
Tacloban residents look towards the sun after a torrential downpour. Leyte, 2014.
Evacuees line up to be transported out of Guiuan, Eastern Samar weeks after Haiyan made landfall in their town. December 2013.
International aid groups set up camp in the heaviily damaged areas of the Visayas. December 2013.
Residents of Taguig’s flooded districts queueing for relief and food packs. Manila, 2009.
A Marian procession in Guiuan, Eastern Samar coinciding with the one month anniversary of Haiyan's first landfall. December 2013.
Along the coast near the Tacloban City Airport. Leyte, 2014.
Displaced children waiting for water rations in Marikina City. August 2012.
A dredged fishing boat becomes a makeshift playground in Tacloban, Leyte. September 2014.
Residents from various towns in the eastern part of Manila use assorted electrical cords to charge multiple gadgets after typhoon Ketsana. September 2009.
Rose (real name withheld) sits inside the temporary shelter where an uncle attempted to sexually assault her. October 2014.
A private room in the regional hospital of Leyte province. September 2014.
A mass grave and memorial for Typhoon Yolanda’s victims in Brgy. Baspar, Tacloban. Leyte, 2014.
What remains of a village in Tacloban. Leyte, 2013.
Starting out as a project titled Displaced Earth in 2009, this series chronicles the aftermath of typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) and other extreme weather events in the Philippines. Ranging from super-typhoons to extended dry spells, these have left devastating and long-lasting effects on vulnerable communities.
After three years, the series grew into a photo book titled Signos, published by MAPA Books in 2017. Roughly translated as a sign, omen or indicator of things to come, Signos presents images taken across villages and relocation sites still recovering from the impacts of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, looking at what remains long after news teams leave to cover other areas and events.
Signos surveys desolate landscapes and dilapidated spaces as markers of trauma, humanizing the longer psychological toll endured by displaced communities confronting such losses. It reflects on the people’s capacity for resilience: what it means, and what it should be, in the face of a still unfolding climate and humanitarian crisis.
Other images from this series, taken between 2009 to 2012, have been exhibited under the title Displaced Earth: Climate Refugees in the Philippines at the IPA Gallery in Singapore (2012); Antara Gallery in Indonesia, Chiang Mai Documentary Arts Festival in Thailand (2013), Visa Pour l'Image in Perpignan France (2015) and as one of the special exhibitions in the 2018 Art Fair Philippines.
Veejay Rius Villafranca’s (b. 1982, Manila) practice in documentary photography grew from his early exposure to the field of photojournalism. He joined the staff of the Philippine Graphic as a sophomore student in 2003. He was working as a photographer for the Business Mirror and a stringer for international wire agencies, starting with Agence France-Presse and the Reuters, by the time he graduated in 2005.
This affinity for the newsroom stems partly from filial and paternal history: Villafranca’s grandfather was a journalist for the Philippine Herald and his father a photographer for a government agency. From them and other mentors, he developed a sense of self-study, rigor, and work ethic. First assigned to the Presidential beat, Villafranca covered various national issues, including events around the insurgency in Southern Mindanao. His earliest photo essays, starting with a feature on the Badjao ethnic group in Zamboanga in 2004, were responses to various situations encountered in the field.
Villafranca’s transition to documentary projects grew between the years 2005 to 2007, when he participated in a workshop for young Asian journalists, completed a diploma course in photojournalism, and worked on freelance wire, commercial and editorial assignments. He began chronicling moments of the aftermath: revisiting people and places left behind, once the rush of news coverage subsides, as starting points for new stories.
Employing the narrative format of annotated black and white photographs, Villafranca’s documentary projects often revolve around the lives of communites in states of transition. Returning to sites affected by war, extreme weather events, underdevelopment and other trajectories of displacement, Villafranca persists beyond the witnessing of trauma and seeks quiet moments of sufferance, resilience and hope.
His first documentary photo series, Marked: Gangs of Baseco, won the Ian Parry Scholarship Award in the United Kingdom in 2008. Villafranca is the first Asian recipient of this grant, which offers support for young photographers working on personal projects. Since then, he has participated in various residency programs and explored both traditional and non-traditional exhibition platforms for his work. Currently a correspondent for international photo agencies, he also develops long-term documentary stories, exhibition and book projects with aid organizations and institutions across the Philippines and Asia.
David, Tammy. “Invisible Interview: Veejay Villafranca – Faith Above Fate”. Invisible Photography Asia, May 6, 2011.
Galvez, Joe. “Pinoy lensman bags coveted Ian Parry award”. Gmanews Online. 10 July 2008.
Ito-Tapang, Lisa. Researcher’s interview with Veejay Rius Villafranca. December 19, 2017, Diliman, Quezon City.
Villafranca, Veejay, Rius. Curriculum Vitae (2015).
____________. Photographer’s website. URL: http://www.veejayvillafranca.com