Pinoy photojournalist recalls 2004 tsunami


Posted at Dec 27 2014 05:58 PM | Updated as of Dec 28 2014 02:38 AM

MANILA – One of the first foreign journalists to arrive at the scene in Sri Lanka after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was Filipino photojournalist Jun Sepe.

Sepe arrived in Sri Lanka on December 26, just hours after monstrous waves swept away thousands of people and caused massive damage.

“It was the day after Christmas, so I was just lazing around the house,” Sepe said. “And then I got a text (message) from a friend who was vacationing in Phuket, Thailand. She said ‘There was a big tsunami that hit the Phuket area and we were all running for our lives.’ And then I got a call from our head office in London.''

Sepe landed in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, which did not sustain extensive damage. Two hours away from the city, however, Sepe started seeing scenes of devastation.

Sepe went on to stay in Sri Lanka for more than a month to document the sheer devastation brought by the tsunami.

Sepe, who is now the deputy editor for multimedia of, said he considers the 2004 tsunami one of the top three worst disasters he has covered, the other two being the 1990 Baguio earthquake and the 2013 super typhoon ''Yolanda'' that devastated central Philippines.

Sepe also saw hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in the United States in 2005.

''Disasters are all the same. They are very hard to cover,'' Sepe said. ''Seeing thousands of dead bodies is not easy. But if you let yourself be affected by all the scenes, then you won't be able to do your job.''

Although covering disasters is difficult, Sepe said he is focusing on stories that must be told.

--The World Tonight, ANC, 26 December 2014