Hannah Reyes Morales

6x6 Southeast Asia and Oceania Talent:
Hannah Reyes Morales, Philippines


"I believe Hannah has a passion for telling stories that not only come from deep inside her but that reflect the world around her. This is the first and most essential quality of a storyteller. She has begun to create a body of work that is deeply rooted in Filipino culture and captures the zeitgeist of the Philippines today. Beyond her own image making she is involved and concerned in the visual history and archives of the country and the discourse that can be created around these images and representations." - Erika Larsen, photographer and 6x6 nominator, USA

Based in Manila, Hannah Reyes Morales’ work takes a close look at the stories people tell themselves in the midst of adversity. This includes photographing human trafficking at sea, reporting on forced marriages, and documenting changing indigenous cultures in the Philippines. Morales’ is part of the MAPS collective, a GroundTruth Climate Change Fellow, and a National Geographic Grantee. 

The Drug War, Chapter 1: In Our Neighborhood

“Blocks away from the home I grew up in, dead bodies have turned up in communities—men with heads wrapped in packaging tape, bodies covered in blood, discovered inside shanty homes and on sidewalks, children gunned down with their parents inside their bedrooms. Across the Philippines, thousands more will die in this way. Rodrigo Duterte's bloody 'War on Drugs' has so far claimed thousands of lives since he took office - and he promises that thousands more will suffer the same fate, in his desire to 'preserve the generation.' They were brothers, sons, fathers.'”

The Drug War, Chapter 1: The Invisible City

"Manila's shanty towns are not underground, but they may as well be. In the past, walls were erected to hide them. But these sprawling towns are home to millions of Filipinos, and they are one of the densest places on earth. Today it is the backdrop of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's War on Drugs, which according to the emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, 'could more aptly be described as crimes against humanity targeting the urban poor.'
As I covered crime scenes I became much more curious about the residents gathering to witness the deaths, and who would retreat back into their homes. As one crosses over to this part of the city, the rules change. The regard for human rights and rule of law vanishes. But in here, life goes on amid the violence it bears witness to. Over the last year the images that have come out of the Philippines have been bloody and violent. With the constant and necessary portrayal of the death, I believe it is also important to highlight its living face. This part, which I believe is an essential part, is largely missing from the conversation. Over the last few months I have visited people's homes, and found fleeting moments of intimacy as I looked for this continuous city's still beating heart. Behind the wall that was built from shame, behind the attempts to cleanse them by killing, there is tenderness and there is life that for too long has been overlooked."

Shelter from the Storm

‘Shelter from the Storm’ examines how displaced women and girls from the Philippines wind up in the sex trade after frequent typhoons. The Philippines has consistently ranked among the most at risk countries to natural disasters. The project follows women from Eastern Visayas, ground zero for Typhoon Haiyan, and the poorest region in the Philippines. The UN reports that at least 5,000 women were subjected to sexual violence in just the first month after Haiyan. Many women are trafficked - women are even pimped out of evacuation centers, or falsely promised different work. But some women go by choice, or choose to stay after being trafficked into a line of work that is still criminalized in the Philippines, making them more susceptible to abuse. ‘Shelter’ takes an intimate look at the lives of these women and examines the shelters they took from the storms that came. 

See Hannah Reyes Morales' 'Shelter From the Storm' on Witness, World Press Photo's online magazine.

Hannah Reyes Morales also received nominations from Justyna Mielkowicz, Sarah Caron, Tina Ahrens, Ruth Eichhorn, and Eefje Ludwig.

Discover work by the 6x6 Southeast Asia and Oceania talents, and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.