The Philippines has always been known as one of the most natural hazard-prone countries in the world. Because of its geographical location, this archipelagic country generally produces heavy rains and floods that can develop into heavy casualties to human life, as well as property and crop destruction.
Limited resources are usually allocated to the country’s emergency disaster response, and considering its increasing population, continued urbanization of rural areas, and global climate change, recovering can be an unreachable concept for some crisis-stricken communities.
In 2013, the Philippines had one of its strongest cyclones in Typhoon Haiyan, locally referred to as Yolanda. Haiyan raged across the country for days, with the most powerful surge occurred in the city of Tacloban and other nearby areas. Sebastian Stampa, the Head of the United Nation’s Disaster Assessment Coordination Team, described the event as a “destruction on a massive scale”.
A death count of around 6,000 was officially recorded in the Philippines alone because of Haiyan, but many locals believe that the actual number is 15,000 to 20,000. Many individuals’ bodies are still missing, houses and buildings stripped off their roofs and walls.
This tragedy is the focus of Joanna Arong’s haunting documentary short To Calm The Pig Inside. The film merges real-life catastrophes with the local children’s belief that a monster was behind them.
Children’s drawings were often infused with painful footage of Haiyan’s destruction in their hometown. In some ways, the film moves and operates like it was made through the lens of a child, inhaling a sense of naivety and innocence.
The still photographs and recorded video footage that the film was able to document and stitch can be difficult, especially knowing that the trauma from the typhoon never really left. Typhoon Haiyan is a nightmare that continues to be a nightmare, a horror that still seeps into the now.
To Calm The Pig Inside is a reminder of how personal tragedies will forever shape a part of us regardless of the time that has passed. It’s an ultimately harrowing film that not only challenges but allowed us to see a new perspective of our traumas.