For me the purpose of my work as a documentary artist is to go beyond the lines of giving expression to my own interpretation and reading of situations. That for me would be extremely limiting. One sign for me that my work is going in the right direction is when it ends up surprising me, when in the process it shows me something that I didn’t know before. When it leaves me with something that I didn’t have before.

On the night of December 17, 2011, the City of Iligan was ravaged by Tropical Storm Sendong (international name – Washi). The force of the storm generated floodwaters which combined with displaced logs and trees uprooted from the mountains and hinterland areas of the City swept away entire communities until they were washed out to the Iligan Bay.

When the storm came to pass and light slowly lit the shore, the Iliganons saw before them thousands of logs and timber drifting in brown water, stretching as far as the eye can see. Above, between and underneath the logs lay the broken bodies of their townsfolk, many of them mangled beyond recognition. The storm had claimed the lives of hundreds with many missing to this day.

By January, the local government undertook a massive retrieval and recovery operation for the drifted timber and logs. The logs were crashing against the shore and threatening more communities lining the shore of Iligan City.

Officially numbering about 4,000 to 5,000, these drifted pieces of timber and logs were stored and secured in a lay-down area in Barangay Acmac, Iligan City with the purpose of being used as basic wooden materials in the construction of the shelter homes for thousands of families displaces by the storm.

The sequences seen in the video took place in early March 2012, or three months after the storm. I had gained permission to access three pieces of stockpiled logs (Balete et al) which were assessed to be unusable for the creation of shelter homes and visited the lay down area. It was there that I chanced upon a happy troop of young children playing with abandon on the stockpiled logs. They were laughing, jumping and clambering over and above and across the logs. The emotion I felt was conflicted and wondrous at the same time. For these logs and timber which have borne the brunt of blame for the massive devastation and branded as “behemoth killers” simply became a source of joy for the children.

Seemingly oblivious to the weight of trauma and attachment to tragedy, I found wisdom in the children’s capacity to reclaim place and in this particular instance, redeem “markers of tragedy” in the name of play.

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born 1975 in Manila (Philippines)

1993 University of the Philippines, Quezon City (PH)

Exhibitions and projects (2000-2013, selection)

Recent Slogans, 1335MABINI, Manila(PH)

Common Ground Barrier, Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill, Graz (A)
Common Ground Barrier, 1335MABINI, Manila (PH)
Sharjah Biennial 11: Re:emerge, Sharjah (UAE)
You Have Every Right, Ateneo Art Gallery, Quezon City (PH)
Giving Form to the Impatience of Liberty, W├╝rttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (D)
Singapore Biennale 2013: If the world changed, Singapore (SGP)

58th International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen (DE)
Washed Out, Finale Art File, Makati  City (PH) (solo)

Time and Place of Incident, Vargas Museum, Quezon City (PH) (solo)
A Little Garden of Earthly Delights, Now Gallery, Makati City (PH) (solo)

Watch History Repeat Itself, Ateneo Art Gallery, Quezon City (PH) (solo)
The Present Disorder is the Order of the Future, Mo_Space, Taguig City (PH) (solo)
The Only Risk is that of Openness, Green Papaya Art Projects, Quezon City (PH)
Cube Show, Finale Art File, Makati City (PH)

Thrice Upon a Century, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (SG)
Current: Daloy ng Dunong, National Museum of the Philippines, Manila (PH)
PasyoNasyon, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila (PH)
Ang Bayan ni Nanding, Manila Contemporary, Makati City (PH)

Keeping the Faith. Acts of Mediation, Lopez Memorial Museum, Manila (PH)
Pure Hybrids and Normal Aberrations, Whitebox Gallery, Quezon City (PH)

Shoot Me: Photographs Now, Mo_Space, Taguig City (PH)

Painting-in-Progress, Mag:net Gallery, Quezon City (PH)

Dayo, Sungdu-an 3, Lingayen and Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila (PH)

Four Women Souls, Surrounded by Water, Quezon City (PH)