EJN Asia-Pacific Special Project Produces Five Photo Essays on Climate Change in the Philippines  

a fisher spearing squid

EJN Asia-Pacific Special Project Produces Five Photo Essays on Climate Change in the Philippines  

In October last year, the Photojournalists Center of the Philippines (PCP) embarked on a special project to cover climate change impacts in the Philippines, with support from EJN. 

For 25 years, the PCP has worked to professionalize the practice of photojournalism in the country, conducting annual workshops and regular webinars and securing funding opportunities for its network of working photojournalists. 

As part of their EJN-supported project, the nonprofit organization launched an open call for applications to its members, calling for photo essays and stories on climate change, especially its effects on coastal communities and women’s health.  

After careful evaluation, PCP awarded small grants to five member photojournalists, each of whom published a photo essay with 10-12 images later in 2021.  

“The Photojournalists' Center of the Philippines is incredibly grateful to EJN for helping five photojournalists produce critical and timely photo essays and stories on the climate and environment,” said Ezra Acayan, chair of PCP. “The support has not only enabled these photojournalists to make these stories, but most importantly, it gave a chance for meaningful mentorship and exchange of ideas between grantees and the PCP board,” he added.  

man in mangrove grabs a bud
Taking matters into his own hands, Mon insists that the village needs a second reforestation project to cover wider mudflats. While waiting for the local and national governments to respond to his request, Mon is carefully replanting propagules that grow from the mangroves / Credit: Jun Santiago III. 
farmer spraying pesticide
A Talaandig farmer applies chemicals to his vegetable farm in Barangay Miarayon / Credit: Froilan Gallardo. 
  • Published by The Philippine Star, Geela Garcia’s story  From plastic waste to plushies: Payatas residents survive by recycling, told of how low-income communities in the Philippines, the fourth largest generator of solid waste in Southeast Asia, are making a living salvaging junk, although the government lags on implementing a wide-ranging waste disposal program. “The opportunity allowed me to begin my legwork on zero-waste initiatives and helped me to make more stories related to plastic waste and climate change,” said Garcia, who continues to work on stories that dig deeper into the country’s solid waste crisis.  
a man atop a pile of garbage
Bobby Bueno dries foam and synthetic cotton in Payatas, Quezon City. The foam comes from factories, and he buys them from garbage trucks for a living. Bueno sorts the foam and synthetic cotton, dries them under the sun for days to remove its stench / Credit: Geela Garcia. 
  • Luis Liwanag, who arrived in Tacloban a few days after the super- typhoon Haiyan in 2013, revisited the province for his photo essay, Wiser and stronger after surviving typhoon Haiyan, in Vera Files. Liwanag reports how devastated communities rebuilt their lives and are attempting to adapt to increasingly unpredictable weather events.  
men searching through debris after a typhoon
Searching for debris in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban City on November 12, 2013 / Credit: Luis Liwanag. 
drone image of boat in mangroves
A fishing boat navigates the mangrove forest of Del Carmen town in the southern Philippines, captured by a drone / Credit: Erwin Mascariñas.  

The photojournalists produced their stories despite several pandemic-related challenges. “We strongly favored photojournalists who submitted ideas they could execute in their home regions. Some of the grantees who qualified still had to travel outside their home regions, but the support from EJN eased the burden as it helped pay for their testing and travel requirements,” said Acayan.  

Covid-19 notwithstanding, the photo essays helped “reinforce the importance of visual journalism in reporting stories on climate and the environment,” said PCP’s chairperson.  

Imelda Abano, EJN’s Senior Coordinator for the Philippines and Pacific Region, agreed. "Projects like this help raise awareness on environmental issues and make climate change more tangible,” she said. “The images give a sense of scale and context that heighten the understanding of climate change's effects in the communities." 

Check the EJN website for more updates from our Asia-Pacific project.  

Banner image: Jesus Condeza holds on to a large squid he speared inside his fish corral before transferring it to a carrying net in the coastal waters of Del Carmen town in the southern Philippines / Credit: Erwin Mascariñas.  

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