Manila, Philippines – This week marks four years after Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). Researchers in the British Council-funded Newton Tech4Dev Network invite reflection on the efforts of Filipino aid workers who became pioneers of technological innovations in disaster response in the Philippines and beyond.
In light of this occasion, the Newton Tech4Dev Network launches the book The Filipino Aid Workers at De La Salle University, Yuchengco 407, on November 9, 2017 from 230-430PM. The commemorative book brings together powerful stories and evocative photographs of eight Filipino aid workers who conducted technology and communications work for international aid agencies in the wake of Yolanda. Their responsibility was to give voice to the needs of Yolanda-affected communities.
According to project leader Jonathan Corpus Ong, professor of communication at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and convenor of the network, “The book aims to recognize the Filipino aid workers who gave voice to communities that they are part of. It captures the hard work, ingenuity, and compassion of these aid workers that made these humanitarian projects not only possible but even successful.”
The book retells the stories of: Angelo Melencio (Plan International Philippines), John Vergel Briones (formerly IOM), Jerby Santo (formerly IOM), Aivon Guanco (World Vision Philippines), and Arnold Salvador (World Vision Philippines), who managed community feedback projects to enhance community engagement. Meanwhile, Janeen Kim Cayetano (Catholic Relief Services), David Garcia (formerly UN Habitat), and Mikko Tamura (Red Cross), who worked on hazard mapping initiatives.
The book recounts not only the difficult stories of working in an emergency context, but also their personal challenges, including experiencing house damage from Yolanda themselves, losing jobs and switching industries, working with expats in large global aid agencies, and piloting technological innovations never before implemented in disaster contexts. At the same time, the book highlights the professional opportunities they experienced after their pioneering work, including leading international assignments and pursuing graduate studies in prestigious universities overseas. The book features evocative photographs from renowned photojournalist Geric Cruz. Book designer and National Book Award winner Karl Castro worked on the eloquent structure and typography of the feature.
The commemorative feature will be formally launched at De La Salle University on 9 November 2017, in the four-year anniversary of Yolanda. The launch will feature a roundtable co-hosted by Dr Nicole Curato, a sociologist and experienced disaster researcher from the University of Canberra and Voltaire Tupaz of MovePH, Rappler’s socio-civic arm. Curato and Tupaz aim to discuss with the aid workers to be honored their key lessons learned from the Yolanda response. They aim to invite reflection on how global aid agencies can better support local aid workers.
Typhoon Yolanda brought massive devastation in the Central Philippines with more than 6,000 reported casualties.