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Reel Impact: Documenting Local Disaster Resilience for the World Bank

The M2.0 Communications team has always wanted to tell narratives of real change. However, finding the right one that speaks to them isn’t always easy. It wasn’t until the opportunity to help the World Bank on their mission of disaster risk management transformation popped up. For the M2 team, who grew up experiencing the devastation of natural disasters, this wasn’t just a professional endeavor; it became a personal journey of purpose and fulfillment.

The Philippines experiences about 20 typhoons a year due to its geographical location. Aside from constant heavy rainfall, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are also prominent because of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Unfortunately, many communities face challenges in responding effectively to natural disasters due to limited knowledge and resources. 

There have been multiple initiatives that inform how to operate such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)’s four thematic areas of disaster management and the United Nations’ Sendai Framework but the problem lies in making sure that learning all of them was interesting and accessible. Thus, the Ready to Rebuild (R2R) training program was created. A comprehensive series of educational materials that tackles all facets of natural disaster response. 

From Passion to Production

When M2.0 Communications entered into a partnership with the World Bank in 2020, the goal was clear: produce the content that would effectively communicate the R2R program to the right people in order to make the right impact. Beejay Castillo was tasked to lead the team. This wasn’t just another project for him as an Executive Producer. The R2R program was an opportunity for Beejay to tap into one of the main reasons why he became a storyteller in the first place. 

“I was always hoping that I would work on something related to social change, community mobilization, and governance because those were my interests. I wanted to make an impact in my own unique way. Creating stories was my platform to have a voice. I wanted to share that,” Beejay said. 

For Beejay, the foundation of a good story comes from a good conversation. This is the standard he holds his team to. Prior to working with the World Bank, his knowledge on disaster risk management was limited. All he knew was that the Philippines lacked the proper capabilities. Since the country was experiencing multiple natural disasters, only a slight focus was given on response and not much else. No mitigations and no full recoveries.  

Beejay and his team approached this project from a much more personal perspective. Beejay grew up in the Quezon province wherein they would experience extreme weather conditions that would render their communities damaged for months at a time. 

“I’ve experienced spending months having no electricity or housing our neighbors because their homes got washed away,” Beejay recollects. When the team was working with the World Bank on the R2R content, they had their own experiences in mind. They were doing this to make sure that no one else would know what it was like to fear for what nature will bring. The next generation of Filipinos would be better equipped with disaster risk management and it starts with the work Beejay and his team did with R2R. 

Behind the Scenes of Change

In a collaborative effort between the World Bank and essential government bodies such as the Department of Science and Technology, the Office of Civil Defense, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the M2 team traveled to 10 communities around the Philippines. The team wanted to immerse themselves and listen in on the stories of the community leaders and citizens about natural disasters and how the R2R program has fundamentally changed the way they operate. 

The strength of our partnership with the World Bank and the different LGUs was unheard of. It came to a point that my team wasn’t just acting as content support, we were given opportunities to make key decisions ourselves, Beejay said. 

One particular LGU in Mindanao stood out to Beejay and his team. Prior to the introduction of the R2R program, the extent of their disaster risk management plans was just written on a few pieces of paper that were handed down from previous years. Once a disaster strikes, that’s the only time they’ll be taking action to loosely respond to damages. This is the epitome of why the R2R program is needed. 

At the core of this initiative was a clear and unwavering message: to equip individuals with the aptitude and know-how necessary to anticipate, respond to, and recover from the hazards that threaten their communities. Beejay and his team sought to bridge this gap through engaging training methodologies, including explainer videos and video storytelling. What were originally lectures that would last hours, were condensed into 20-minute videos that go over key points and actionable next steps to follow. 

Capturing a Safer Tomorrow

After all the traveling and training sessions, the work was still not done. In order to prove how effective the R2R program was, M2 produced “Impact Reports”, a series of documentaries showcasing how the training transformed disaster risk management practices.

The M2 team sat down with community leaders and members to talk about their own personal experiences with the R2R program. Despite the bigger picture of encouraging systematic changes to the way Filipinos approach natural disasters, it is through these documented conversations where Beejay found the ultimate value of the job. Knowing how much R2R has positively impacted the lives of many brought the M2 team back to the very reason why they took the job in the first place: to help build up an attitude of confidence and resilience in a way that they didn’t have back then. 

The “Impact Reports” stand as a testament to the transformational journey local chief executives and disaster management practitioners took. Through data visualization, case studies, and interviews, these reports show a picture of change and progress that was sorely needed.

This really wasn’t just another story I was telling. This was the paradigm shift that we were all waiting for. Finally, Philippine communities can recover faster, better, and more efficiently. I believed in the vision from the very start and it was truly a remarkable experience to see it all the way through, Beejay said. 

But, the story doesn’t end here. The journey towards disaster risk reduction is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is through initiatives like the R2R program that communities are continuously educated and prepared for the unexpected that lie ahead. Resilience isn’t acquired in an instant; rather, it is developed through conscious efforts for transformation. For Beejay and his team, their aspirations extended beyond anything else – they aimed to ignite the catalyst for this very change, and the R2R program emerged as the embodiment of their pursuit.

M2.0 Communications is a video production company dedicated to telling impactful and meaningful stories. We offer video production services, content creation, and content development to help brands connect with their audiences. Visit our case studies page to see our work in action.

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