A collective of journalists based in Asia

Ruom Dispatch October – November 2016

09 Nov 2016

Recently, Ruom members reported from the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand working on stories about UXO clearance in Laos, climate change in the Philippines, Les Clef’s D’Or in Shanghai and Hanoi. Have a look at what we’ve been working on, and what we have coming up next.


Deadly Legacy

Nicolas Axelrod worked with fellow journalist Ryan McMorrow in Laos for VICE Magazine. Laos claims the ill fated title of the world’s most heavily bombed country on a per capita basis. Today, the jungle has returned, swallowing the scars of war and America’s unexploded ordnance (UXO). It remains dormant but deadly. Click the link below to read more.


Rodrigo Duterte, Scorned Abroad, Remains Popular in the Philippines

Since he took office in June promising to kill drug addicts and dealers, about 1,400 people have been killed by the police in antidrug operations, and hundreds more by vigilantes. His embrace of violence has shocked other countries and brought condemnation from human rights groups. The rest of the world may have trouble understanding this, but Duterte still commands ardent support in the Philippines. Reporter Aurora Almendral talks to his supporters to find out why, for The New York Times.


Tunnel Vision

For generations, a tiny village tucked behind a mountain range in southwestern China was isolated from the outside world. Then, they decided to do something about it: They picked up hammers and chisels and started to dig their way out. Ruom writer Denise Hruby wrote this story for Sixth Tone, where she recently started to work as a senior editor.


Climate Migrants

Over time, an estimated 13.5 million Filipinos will be displaced by climate change. Aurora Almendral talks to some of the Philippines’ first climate migrants and explores how Manila is planning to handle the pressures of a changing environment in a long-form feature for Next City. Hannah Reyes Morales contributed photographs.


A Mother’s motivation

Thomas Cristofoletti recently finished editing a new multimedia project for USAID about the struggles of a young mother in the Dominican Republic.


War on Drugs

Hannah Reyes Morales photographed in the streets of Manila, covering Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs for Playboy Germany.

Wishes of the Riches

Les Clefs d’Or were founded in 1929 in Paris, and went international in 1952 to help build a network of concierges, linked through their motto “Service Through Friendship”. Today, the international organisation has about 4,000 members across the world. Denise Hruby reports from Shanghai and Hanoi for the BBC on this exclusive group that fancy themselves the fixers of five-star hospitality.


Arbitration of Seafarers

KCRW investigates how a private justice system exploits workers on the high seas. Hannah Reyes Morales photographed for the series, and Aurora Almendral contributed reporting from Manila.


Lost Temples

Marta Kasztelan produced and co-directed a video together with Jeremiah Overman about Tong Hann – a charismatic Siem Reap tour guide, who prefers to explore the “lost temples” of Angkor Wat as opposed to the more popular sites sought after by tourists. The video was commissioned by Momentum.travel.



Hannah Reyes Morales delivered talks in Chiang Mai and Bangkok for National Geographic Learning about exploration through photography. She recently traveled to Japan to collaborate with National Geographic Channel on a short vignette. She has just moved back to her hometown, Manila, to continue documenting the changing landscape under the new administration of Rodrigo Duterte. She is available for assignments.

Marta Kasztelan has just returned from Poland, where she filmed a short documentary commissioned by Al Jazeera. In between video assignments, she will push ahead with her long-term documentary film project, which is mainly based in Cambodia.

Antoine Raab is currently based in Paris, France and is available for assignments in the region.

This month, Aurora Almendral is continuing coverage of Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines for the New York Times and PRI’s The World, producing radio features for the BBC World Service and covering breaking news for NPR. She is continuing work on an immersive, long-form radio narrative about disasters and human trafficking, a project funded with a Groundtruth Climate Change Fellowship.

Nicolas Axelrod and Thomas Cristofoletti headed to India to finish their video and photo reportage commissioned by WWF, looking at the use of organic pesticides in cotton farming.

Clothilde Le Coz focused on developing the curricula of the Myanmar Journalism Institute in Yangon and traveled to Sittwe, in Arakan state, to study the local impact of Buddhism nationalism, ahead of the new Panglong Peace conference in Nay Pyi Taw.


Garment Industry

This month HRW issued a report about the working conditions of garment workers in Cambodia’s unregistered factories. Around the same time The Cambodia Daily newspaper reported that growing competition overseas is threatening the $5.7 billion export industry.

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