PRESS RELEASE: POSTCARDS⁠ FROM DISASTERS—Yolanda’s ground zero in Virtual Reality

Non-profit group Postcards From Disasters is staging a Virtual Reality (VR) tour into Super Typhoon Yolanda’s ground zero six years after its landfall.

The coastal village of 69-Anibong in Tacloban City was among the communities that bore the brunt of Yolanda (Haiyan), considered one of the world’s strongest typhoons to hit land, which killed at least 6,000 when it tore through portions of the country in 2013.

During the super typhoon’s onslaught, storm surges slammed into the community and swept cargo ships inland that wiped out houses. At least fifty residents were killed in that village alone.

The government has declared Barangay 69-Anibong a hazard zone for tsunamis and storm surges even before Yolanda.

However, more than half a decade after the super typhoon, the coastal village is still home to thousands of displaced residents who have been waiting for government shelters to be completed.

Housing projects for Yolanda survivors are riddled with corruption.

According to a recent Commission on Audit (COA) report, only half of over 200,000 housing units have been constructed. Of the completed houses, more than half remains unoccupied.

The result: thousands of survivors are forced to live in shanties built from the rubble in Tacloban City.

Displaced residents are suffering due to prolonged displacement, which further exposes them to human rights abuses.

Captured in 360-degree video

An interactive 360-degree video of the coastal village will be the centerpiece of Postcards From Disasters’ (PFD) exhibit at Glorietta 4 Left Wing in Makati City from November 8 to 14.

Visitors will use VR headsets provided in the exhibit space. They can also choose to watch the video in 360-degree view via computers displayed in the setup.

PFD collaborated with Microsoft Education partner, Amicus Koi Solutions, and Australian tech company, VRTY that provided the technology that captured the community in interactive VR.

Apart from experiencing a walkthrough into the coastal village, visitors will get to listen to residents’ stories told by community leader Chat Bactol.

A call to Climate Action

“Kami pong mga residente na nakatira sa coastal areas, kami po ang pinaka-apektado ng Climate Change,” said Bactol, the former village chief, who led the community during Yolanda.

Bactol shared residents have been seeing significant changes in the coastal landscape.

“Nakikita naman po namin na tumataas ang lebel ng tubig dagat, kung saan ang mga lupa na kinatitirikan ng aming mga bahay ay nawawala.”

Bactol added, they, too, are the first to get hit by extreme weather events like Yolanda.

“Kami naman po ay may mga malilit na ginagawa, pero sana, ‘yung mga opisyal ng gobyerno, hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas pati sa buong mundo, magtulong-tulong para malabanan ang Climate Change,” Bactol said.

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