New short film on typhoon Yolanda is painful to watch—which is why you have to

“Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos (To Calm the Pig Inside)” is narrated in Visayan, color graded in black and white, and minimalist in approach.

It also begs pressing questions for Filipinos, 10 years after the typhoon.

Towards the end of the short film Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos (To Calm the Pig Inside), one of the most painful lines is uttered by the narrator: “They say trauma gets passed on through family.”

That is a massive understatement. Tacloban may have been physically rebuilt, but the effects and scars—they may never heal.

This film is a chilling reminder that humanity is losing its battle against climate change, veiled and overt corruption, and incompetence that exists even at the worst of times.

Atty. Jogie Ronda has maintained a home in Manila and Tacloban, and was on ground when Yolanda made landfall. He spent weeks looking for one of his friends who went missing during the storm surge. He literally turned over every single body (in varying degrees of decomposition) he came across when he was looking for his friend.

“Hundreds. Maybe thousands,” he said of the number of bodies he looked at. “I will not forget them and the smell for as long as I live.”

And he doesn’t look at typhoons in the same vein anymore. He takes every single one of them seriously.

10 years after Yolanda

Writer, producer, director Joanna Vasquez Arong of Yolanda Typhoon Film
Writer, producer and director Joanna Vasquez Arong

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of Yolanda’s devastating landfall in the seaside city of Tacloban back on November 8, 2013, the new, powerful short film Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos puts into context what happened and intuitively poses questions that remain unanswered to this day.

The film gets its title from a local myth about how the earth trembles when the pig that lives underneath the ground gets angry. In order to calm the angry pig down, people say, “Buwa! Buwa!”

The film makes no judgement on whether religion or folkloric beliefs can mitigate the harmful effects of a super typhoon. If anything, it portrays the many facets of the Filipino from being God-fearing to finding humor in the worst of times.

Ang Pagpakalma is a contemplative film about the ravages of Typhoon Yolanda on Tacloban that are told from the point of view of a native whose narration by Anna Rong in Visayan weaves local myths, rumors, personal experiences and memories, religious beliefs, and the news of the day.

The film was a part of the Climate Stories Playlist, a series of short films by international creators that was sponsored by the British Council as part of the 11th Active Vista Human Rights Festival: Rebelasyon of Dakila, a creative collective whose goal is to build a heroism movement towards social transformation.

The event was held last Thursday, September 28, at Sine Pop in Cubao.

Chilling reminder

Yolanda Typhoon Film To calm the Pig Inside

Written, produced, and directed by Joanna Vasquez Arong, the nearly-19 minute film uses jarring still photography from Veejay Villafranca, Piyavit Thongs-ard, as well as video footage from Earth Uncut TV, James Reynolds, Mark Thomas, Christian Linaban, and Christopher Darza.

This film is a painful and chilling reminder that humanity is losing its battle against climate change, the veiled and overt corruption and incompetence that exists even at the worst of times, and how ordinary people are the ultimate victims.

Narrated in Visayan, color graded in black and white, and minimalist in approach, it is a difficult film to watch only because it is painful. But you have to.

Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos rends your soul. If you who are thousands of miles away are affected, you can only imagine what is was or is like for the survivors who are still picking up the pieces of their shattered lives 10 years later.

It grafts itself onto your mind while begging a series of questions that range from how is Tacloban today, how have they moved forward from Yolanda, and has the national government put proactive protocols to alleviate these powerful typhoons that have hit the country with increasing regularity and frightening intensity.

Why not? The 11 most destructive typhoons to hit our country all happened in this 21st century.

And that is exactly how the film ends—open ended because the final story has to be written, and well, with all these questions in your mind.

And that is why, after watching this, you should be more than concerned. You have to be proactive. Or else, you can expect another Yolanda, Odette, Pablo etc.

The new lifestyle.