Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Two years After Ondoy...Another Big Typhoon Hits Manila

When will we ever learn?  Two years after Ondoy, here comes Pedring.  I know that natural calamities are unpredictable and Manila is below sea level so flooding is inevitable...but isn't it about time that we minimize the damage?   Pictured below are old photos of flooding in Manila circa 1900's to 1960's.

photo courtesy of Paulo Alcazaren Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150340519349488&set=a.226285759487.174521.772454487&type=1&theater
photo courtesy of Paulo Alcazaren Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150340522519488&set=a.226285759487.174521.772454487&type=1
Photo courtesy of Paulo Alcazaren Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150340525279488&set=a.226285759487.174521.772454487&type=1

The problem is not so much about Metro Manila being flood-prone as to the lamentable fact that no lasting solution has ever been made to solve this. The current mindset is all about output...never the outcome.  Government agencies and LGU's flood control program consists of regularly dredging canals and cleaning up of esteros which are necessary services (outputs) but these will not produce the desired outcome - that is to minimize if not totally prevent flooding. Solutions should be made and implemented to manage the rapid urban expansion, improve river channel capacities (and remove informal settlers living along these channels), provide equipment for sufficient maintenance of drainage facilities which are persistently clogged by squatters and their waste.  Typhoon Pedring (Nesat) has brought flooding not only to the usual places in Manila but even in places which rarely experience high water.  Roxas Boulevard based on the 6:00 news this evening is waist deep in water, including the US Embassy and Manila Hotel. 
US Embassy, Roxas Blvd, Manila
This is surprising because it is one route where vehicles divert to when heavy rains or typhoons hit Manila. This area was basically flood free even in the hardest rain.  I remember in the late 70's coming from Bulacan and our bus could not enter the Balintawak cloverleaf, so we took the road to Novaliches which I later found out was Tandang Sora, took us all the way round to Katipunan, Aurora Blvd and then back to Quezon Avenue to drop us all in one corner in Dapitan St. which was also already partly under water.  Being young and fearless, I decided to go home to my grandmother's house in Pasay and rode a taxi shared with 2 other persons.  To avoid the flooded areas, our driver decided to take the back roads through Jose Abad Santos and Claro M. Recto crossing the Del Pan bridge where my 2 companions got off. From there we proceeded to Roxas Blvd. turning into Vito Cruz, then Donada, back to FB Harrison, then down Galvez (corner of Phil. School for the Blind), turning right at Park Avenue, left at Sanchez and finally home sweet home at P. Villanueva at past 10 in the evening.  The whole trip took more than 3 hours.  Of course, my grandmother was not pleased to say the least, because I could have just stayed at the UST Clinical Division where I was a bedspacer.  I really did not mind the flood when I was studying in Manila...it was actually a time of adventure, safety was never a consideration...at that point in my life.  But I guess as one gets older adventure turns to horror.  By the time I graduated, I couldn't wait to get back to the province (Negros Occidental)...metro living was not for me.  I fervently pray that the national government, the LGU's concerned makes real solutions soon and hopefully in my lifetime otherwise, unless absolutely necessary, I  will continue to stay away from Manila...ironically, the place of my birth.

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