Logographing a Hurricane

Baybayin script calligraphy: logographing “bumabagyo”  (to be hit by a typhoon, hurricane; ᜊᜓᜋᜊᜄ᜴ᜌᜓ) and “lubag” (calming of emotions, end of a storm; ᜎᜓᜊᜄ᜔). On the side it is written “Kayo ay magsitigil at kilalanin” which is “Be still and know.” This is a continuation of my series of calligraphy pieces in Baybayin script (ancient, Filipino writing system) to examine the meaning and aesthetic of one word or phrase in Tagalog. The combining of Baybayin alphasyllabic letters into an aesthetic whole, I have coined this neologism, Logographing. (© 2017 Henry Del Rosario)

Typhoons & Hurricanes

Hurricane Harvey hit the state of Texas of the United States, making landfall on August 25, 2017. Confirmed deaths so far have amounted to 48. Typhoon Haiyan was one of the largest tropical storms in history. It hit the Philippines on November 7, 2013 and killed at least 6,300 people. 

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are all tropical storms. The particular name is given depending on the region of the world.

  • Hurricanes: form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific
  • Cyclones: form over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean
  • Typhoons: form over the Northwest Pacific Ocean

Be Still

Tropical storms are devastating to the regions they impact. We respond to crisis according to our identity. As I reflect as an Filipino-American, as a doctor, as a Christian, and as an artist on the current destruction of Hurricane Harvey, I am reminded of a few sacred texts (Psalm 46:10 and Mark 4:39 respectively):

English (ESV)
Tagalog (ADB1905 & FSV)
Psalm 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Kayo ay magsitigil at kilalanin ninyo na ako ang Dios: ako’y mabubunyi sa gitna ng mga bansa, ako’y mabubunyi sa lupa.
Mark 4:39
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Bumangon si Jesus, sinaway ang hangin at inutusan ang lawa, “Pumayapa ka. Tumahimik ka!” Tumigil nga ang hangin at nagkaroon ng katahimikan.
In Tagalog:
  • Bumabagyo: “it’s storming”; to be hit by a storm or typhoon; to rain violently
  • Lubag: calming of emotions; end of a storm; lowering the sails of a sailboat

As I pray about the victims of typhoons (past, present, and future), I am reminded of Jesus’ words. In the midst of crisis, there is reason to be centered, to be meditative, to be still according to Jesus. His presence doesn’t necessarily mean freedom from sickness, injury, or death. But His presence does give inner, spiritual, and eternal peace. From this inward stillness, hearts change by growing in wisdom and empathy. And from this, outward change can occur.

How can art change the world? I answer this in the same way I see how the holy and sacred can change the world. Responding to a fellow human requires an inward and outward transformation.

Below are tangible ways to help.


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