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

The coastal village of 68-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 left families homeless. 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 have been 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. 

As a 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. 

  • Postcards From Disasters VR Tour
  • Postcards From Disasters VR Tour
  • Postcards From Disasters VR Tour
  • Postcards From Disasters VR Tour

Captured in 360-degree video 

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

According to PFD co-founder Makoi Popioco of CNN Philippines, the event is a product of their collaborative storytelling with Yolanda displaced survivors from Tacloban. PFD trains them in photography and storytelling to allow them to document their own community using their own perspective.

WATCH: “That is intense. You really feel like you are there…Uneasy, like I’m actually walking on the floor boards of that house,” says Australia in The Philippines Ambassador, His Excellency Steven J. Robinson AO. Assisting him is VRTY CEO Kingston Lee-Young. The ambassador is the guest of honor for this year’s launch. Join us today at 2 pm for the grand launch of Yolanda’s Ground Zero in 360. Glorietta 4 Left-Wing, Makati City.#Yolanda #YolandaRetold #YolandaGroundZeroin360

Posted by Postcards from Disasters on Friday, November 8, 2019
Australian ambassador, His Excellency Steven J. Robinson shares
his thoughts after experiencing PFD’s VR Tour (from PFD Facebook Page)

Visitors will use VR headsets provided in the exhibit space. The video is also available 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’ testimonials as related 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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