This week eighty percent of Greater Manila was covered in waters that in some parts were nearly two meters (six feet and six inches) deep, after more than a normal August’s worth of rain was dumped on the city in 48 hours.
More than twenty people have died and two million others have been serious affected, according to the government.The deluge was similar to one in 2009, (typhoon Ondoy) a disaster that claimed more than 460 lives and prompted pledges from government leaders to make the city more resistant to floods.
A government report released then called for 2.7 million people in shantytowns to be moved from “danger zones” alongside riverbanks, lakes and sewers.
Squatters, attracted by economic opportunities in the city, often build shanties on river banks, storm drains and canals, dumping garbage and impeding the flow of waterways. The plan would have affected one in five Manila residents and taken 10 years and P130 billion ($3.11 billion) to carry out. But squatter communities in danger zones have in fact grown since 2009.
The capital is actually made up of 16 cities and towns, each with its own government, and they often carry out infrastructure programs – such as man-made and natural drainage protection – without coördination.
south west monsoon in the Philippines always comes together with the Typhoon season
An urban planner, Nathaniel Einseidel, said the Philippines had enough technical know-how and could find the necessary financing to solve the problem, but there was no vision or political will. “It’s a lack of appreciation for the benefits of long-term plans. It’s a vicious cycle when the planning, the policies and enforcement are not very well synchronized, I haven’t heard of a local government, a town or city that has a comprehensive drainage master plan.”
On the map you can see what part of the region has been flooded. Several provinces, more special north of Manila, have very large areas where the water still hasn’t gone as of today.
Last Sunday it started raining heavily and lasted until late Tuesday, Wednesday morning started te be OK with a few minor showers, but later in the afternoon and early evening once again heavy rains which caused more flooded areas or new floods on areas which were dry already.
Greater Manila or the National Capital Region, as it is officially called,is build in an area where several rivers flow, many creeks and a few smaller hills, surrounded by Laguna Lake in the south, mountainous area in the east and a river delta area in the north.
Manila is very attractive to people from the provinces because of its growth, foreign companies settling there, and the ability to get a job. But there aren’t enough jobs for all those people, only for a few who have studied and finished at least High School.
Many of those people trying to settle here, bring the whole family, but do not have the possibility to rent a proper place: there is no money to pay the rent.
They are building something on an open lot, along a river, under an overpass, with materials they find in the streets or steal somewhere.
Local government employees don’t do much, because as long as those people are registered voters, they are secured of a powerful position in the city or town with a good salary and (often self-made) benefits.
All those people, affected or not by the disaster are used to the flooded streets and houses. They keep on smiling and making jokes, even when they are standing in the water until their shoulders. They keep on laughing to the camera’s and blaming the government, but they do not realise that they also have to do their part: Not throwing garbage in the streets and creeks and rivers, not throwing plastic bags on the street, and the food sellers shouldn’t use plastics and styrofoam to pack the food.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain,
And that is exactly what Filipinos are doing.
Local and national Governments of the Philippines have the same attitude as most common Filipinos: When it is raining you cannot fix a leaking roof; if it is not raining the roof doesn’t need to be fixed!