Photo exhibit on climate change launched in Benguet

15 May 2017, LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- A climate policy group and documentary photographer turned over two photos from a long-term documentary project on the impacts of climate change to the Benguet State University (BSU) tonight, at the opening of its international conference.

The photos belong to Villafranca and his late father Ernesto Villafranca, Sr.’s series “Endangered Abundance”, commissioned by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC). It is part of a six-year photo documentary project on the lives of communities displaced by extreme weather, set to be published later this year in a book entitled “Signos”.

“These two images, one taken by my father and another by myself, is but a glimpse of what is at stake. The future of our food producers and the communities that rely on this land,” Veejay Villafranca said during the opening of the exhibit at the Hotel Supreme.

“To honor my late father, who passed away two months after producing this work, and his deep connection to this land, I share these images with all of you as a reminder and as a personal call to give your share and to determine ways to address the issue of the slow-onset impacts of climate change,” he added.

ICSC is working with BSU and other local universities in Visayas and Mindanao to find out how slow-onset impacts affect communities on a local level. They will launch a series of case studies in July.

“Prolonged drought, increasing precipitation, sea level rise, and changes in ocean temperature might be unnoticeable everyday compared to extreme weather events, but they can force a small farming community to choose between moving out or starving,” said ICSC research coordinator Danica Marie Supnet.

“Our previous report shows that a small change in temperature increase over a few months resulted to a disaster of agricultural losses in La Trinidad. These slow-onset impacts are as equally deadly as typhoons and other extreme disasters,” she added.

BSU’s four-day international conference on food, environment and culture is part of its centennial celebration. The conference will cover different aspects of climate change as one of the most urgent issues that the Philippines and the rest of the world should address with urgency.

“Benguet State University has always been and will always be at the frontlines in battling climate impacts. We are proud to host this conference but we know the real work happens in our own communities,” said BSU president Feliciano Calora, Jr.