This artist collective uses art, movies to address climate crisis in the Philippines

November 29, 2023 - 3:41 PM
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Photo from the Climate Story Lab program of artist collective DAKILA. (DAKILA/Released)

Art as a means to unveil the devastating effects of climate change to the general public. 

This is what artist collective DAKILA aims to achieve with its first-ever Climate Story Lab, a mentorship program that supports Filipino directors and producers who seek to portray and feature the climate crisis through the art of film.

Forty participants were chosen to be part of the Climate Story Lab. The selected fellows for the film lab will get hands-on mentoring from industry experts such as Sherad Anthony Sanchez, Dodo Dayao, Victor Villanueva, Jade Castro and Dwein Baltazar. They will also get the chance to pitch for filmmaking production grants to help them produce their climate-related film projects. 

Among the fellows and film projects selected for the Climate Story Lab include:

  • Joseph Abello (director) for Mga Pasahero, a film about Fred, a humble tricycle driver who becomes a compassionate guide to the lingering spirits of the victims in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation in Tacloban

  • Paul Sta. Ana (director), Iana Bernardez (producer) and Brylle Tabora (co-writer) for Girl on the Turtle’s Back, which will tell the story of a 14-year-old Filipino tomboy who embarks on a voyage across the West Philippine Sea to uncover the whereabouts of her fisherwoman mother.

  • Dustin Celestino (director), Janel Gutierrez (producer) and Karen Toyoshima (associate producer) for Imperyo ng Buhangin, described as a film that reflects “on the consequences of speaking truth to power in the face of profit-driven interest.”

DAKILA Climate Campaign lead Josh Villalobos said that the project is a response to the organization’s belief that addressing the “climate emergency is a matter of fundamental human rights.”

“We also acknowledge that the climate emergency and all human rights issues are a clash of opposing narratives,” he said.

The program, then, promotes “the value of storytelling to unveil the devastating effects of climate emergency and demand the national and global leaders to hold carbon majors accountable,” Villalobos explained. 

‘We are already in a climate crisis’

The Climate Story Lab is among the activities DAKILA has organized to campaign for inclusive climate actions in the Philippines.

Last month, it held a film screening of the 2021 film “Kun Maupay Man It Panahon (Whether the Weather is Fine)” by  Carlo Manatad as part of the 2023 Active Human Rights Festival. The film, which stars Daniel Padilla and Charo Santos, is a film set against the backdrop of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

“We are no longer in the era of climate change; we are already in a climate crisis, where our actions and inactions are already a matter of life and death,” Villalobos said during the film screening.

He also urged the Philippine government to declare a “climate emergency.”

“Now, we direct our stronger call to our government to prioritize addressing the climate emergency instead of the confidential funds,” he also said.

Typhoon Yolanda is one of the strongest storms ever recorded, unleashing winds of up to 195 miles per hour. It also whipped up tsunami-like waves that devastated the centrl islands of the country.

Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, bore the brunt of Yolanda’s fury and was almost totally destroyed by five-meter-high storm surges that crashed over mostly poor coastal communities, reports the Agence France-Press.