From Social Media to Art-Making: Synthesizing Filipino Diaspora Discourse on Typhoon Yolanda
When Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the deadliest typhoon in recorded history, struck in 2013 it affected not only the people of the Philippines, but the Filipino diaspora around the world. Yet there was a greater need for understanding the disaster as not merely a singular physical event, but a process with deep cultural, socioeconomic, political, emotional, and spiritual implications. In addition to reviewing and examining the studies of social media conversations that occurred in the Philippines directly after the physical event, this research also involved conducting an arts-based research (ABR) experiment of stenciling and mural-making in order to understand the typhoon-as-process more fully. Depending on the context and audience, these areas of research can be useful for understanding a disaster, though they reveal vastly different experiences. Rapid, vast, and immediate, social media can be useful for situational awareness and first responders, though it can be difficult to sift through, noisy, and overlook affected peoples without access to digital goods and services. Arts-based research, while small, intimate, and capturing only a few perspectives at a time, has the capability for sense-making, community building, and self-healing. The creation of stencils and a mural by five Filipino American participants not only shifted the way these individual artists thought about the disaster, but also offers rich interpretations for the local Washington D.C. Filipino diaspora’s experiences and understanding of Typhoon Haiyan. Recommendations for future ABR experiments are included, as well as reflections on the workshop as part of the process of disaster.
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