Filipino-Australian Edward Arthur ‘Ted’ Smith III, a rugby league Tamaraw, goes on a full charge but he’s in a different tackle this time.
The journalism student is away from the bruising rugby field and instead has taken camera and pen to work on an indie doco – The Sharp End of Survival’ – in an attempt to get a deeper insight into the aftermath of Haiyan which struck Tacloban and central Philippines two years ago.
“I decided to make the documentary after watching a news report showing the hardships the people of Tacloban were going through. I asked the question ‘what does it actually mean to survive?’, said Ted, writer-producer for the documentary.
“Since I started my interviews I’ve discovered that the problems run a lot deeper than just clearing rubble and rebuilding,” said the robust Philippine Tamaraw team member who recently played at the Cabramatta International 9s.
Ted, 29, is currently studying a post-grad Diploma in Professional Writing at the University of Canberra after completing studies in Media Art.
The research took off late last year via a kickstarter project with the hope of raising funds to support the research while augmenting funds to do humanitarian projects for Yolanda survivors. He has travelled between Surigao and Tacloban over the past seven months.
The student is focused on the more sensitive issues related to the aid drive concerning Tacloban: how was the aid money spent? where did all the money go? who were left out of the aid?
“Unfathomable grief for what was lost is mingled with fear about a future mired in the devastating consequences of a changing climate. Underlying these themes seems to be a general feeling of abandonment – so many months after the disaster there is still debris lining the streets, people living in tents or shacks built from scrap metal,” he said.
“Many people I’ve met feel they have been forgotten by their government and the rest of the world. Questions about the effectiveness of the distribution of aid are rife – this is a delicate issue as I’ve been warned by both aid workers and local professionals about asking these ‘awkward’ questions about the use, (or misuse) of international aid funding.”
Ted has a soft spot for the Philippines, Visayans in particular. He has always been proud of his Cebuano heritage traced through his mother who hails from Butuan. His brother Jake is a fellow Tamaraw who helped in some of the stages of the research. He hopes to complete the documentary by the end of this month.
To learn more about Ted’s kickstarter project, see https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1549760622/tacloban-today-life-at-the-sharp-end-of-survival