The falling sky: A Rappler short story

Patricia Evangelista
Six months after typhoon Sendong laid waste to Iligan, visual artist Kiri Lluch Dalena lets a fallen tree tell the story of a storm that stole a city

Logs sit on a sofa outside its Iligan home in this still from "Washed Out," 25 Mar 2012. Photo by Kiri Dalena.,


MANILA, Philippines –  On Dec 16, 2011, a typhoon named Sendong ripped through Northern Mindanao, killing more than a thousand and displacing thousands more. 

Six months later, visual artist, human rights activist and Rappler contributing cinematographer Kiri Lluch Dalena tells the story of a storm that stole a city. Daughter of Iligan-born sculptor Julie Lluch, Dalena spent weeks traveling across Iligan, one of many volunteers documenting the aftermath of the storm.

In the months after, she told stories of beaches covered in logs, of girls found in rivers and fathers who could not save daughters.

In her many visits to Iligan after the storm, Dalena brought not only cameras but gifts from donors, to be given directly to the children she calls Sendong’s orphans. The donors are varied, including not just artists but a group of University of the Philippines janitors who call themselves “Da Boys.”

Dalena continues to campaign for sustainable support for the victims of Sendong, creating links with government and private institutions in an attempt to fill the gap left by the lessening of aid. 

In her video installation at the Finale Gallery, Dalena projects images collected in the aftermath of typhoon Sendong. Broken logs dominate the walls, the reason, Dalena says, that so many died in a storm that surprised her mother’s hometown. 

“At first I thought that the video was enough, but I was driven to believe it was necessary to have the actual logs, to be around them, to sense the scale, the weight.”

On June 7, 2012, after the weeks of negotiations and fund-raisng necessary to bringing a 30-foot Balete tree into a Makati gallery, Dalena opened “Washed Out.”

“This exhibit is the story of any town, any city, any province.” It is not Iligan’s story, or Sendong’s, she says. It is everyone’s story in a country that is yet to understand there is always a storm coming. –

“Washed out,” sponsored by Canon Philippines and Optima Digital, curated by Lisa Chikiamko, will remain open to the public until June 30th, Mondays to Fridays, 10am-7pm. Finale Gallery is located at Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Pasong Tamo, Gate 1, Makati City Philippines. Artist talk will be held on 16 Jun 2012 at 5:30 PM.