Search and You Shall Find in My World

30 September 2009

The floods helped Manila clean up

I saw this article in and I believe, is worth a reprint here. 

For so long, Manila and its suburbs have not done their share of cleaning up. The government agencies were inutile enough to dismiss this as a problem and focused instead on corruption, a not so alien job with our government agencies and also with the corrupted and corrupt people of the Philippines. The typhoon Ondoy became history and so was (is?) the tragedy that surrounded Manila.

Not so long time ago, the Supreme Court ordered government agencies to cleanup Manila Bay, an obvious choice because everybody could see it. But until now, they still pass the buck, blaming everyone but not everybody on who was not cleaning up and instead showed us how much paper work they already have done.

So nature did its share of cleaning up. The harsh way.

by Thelma Sioson San Juan
Philippine Daily Inquirer/

ALYA CUT out the "hello" on the phone and instead sobbed straight into my ear. I could hear more sobbing than words. I finally did make out what she was trying to say: Our friend Joseph, who lives in San Juan, had to swim out of his house when the water rose up to its second story. Seeing the water rising to his knees, he decided to swim out with his loved one and only housemate—Princess, a dachshund.

They had been swimming away from his house, he doing the backstroke so Princess could perch on his chest, when the current grew stronger. He flipped to swim free style, with Princess still swimming alongside him, but they were being sucked towards the river. Joseph was able to grip a steel pole.

Glancing beside him, he saw Princess already way beyond his reach and being spun into the current towards the river.

That was what Alya was sobbing about—Princess’ death and Joseph’s near-death.

Turned out, that tragedy—no matter that we love Joseph and Princess—was not, by any measure, unique last weekend. There were far, far worse.

Metro Manila and the outlying provinces were one big tragedy. A tragedy waiting to happen.

While “Ondoy” dumped the highest rainfall in decades, still, what happened was a man-made disaster.

The past decades we’ve been building the most beautiful malls, gated subdivisions and high-rises—amid the dirtiest esteros and unkempt neighborhoods. In fact, Metro Manila is at its filthiest.

Cities have been overrun with squatters, many of these settlements in esteros—coddled by city mayors who could use their vote.

The mountains, from the north to the south, have been shaved of trees. Environment advocates have to fight tooth and nail to protect the trees, even right in the urban landscape, like Katipunan Ave. (It is ironic coincidence “Ondoy” struck as environment and waste recycling activist Odette Alcantara was being laid to rest.)

And the rivers—the Pasig River stinks. Peer down on Manila Bay and you see plastic bags, food wrappers and all kinds of debris floating.

When disaster strikes, as it did this week, you could count the government’s rubber boats with your 10 fingers. People using toy floaters to save people—this tragic sight is in a country where billions of pesos go into the pork barrel of politicians and government officials, and that’s not even counting what’s in the coffers of local officials.

Clearly, the environment and infrastructure have been suffering from sheer neglect.

Indeed, the unimpeded degradation of the environment is matched only by unconscionable corruption and greed of government. It’s bad governance that’s been our real disaster.

The nouveau riche sprucing up the house with opulent furniture and decor, but never bothering to clean up the house and unclog the toilet—that’s our “disaster lifestyle.”

Photos from (and you think your garbage is overflowing?)


Sidney said...

Yes Thelma Sioson article in the Inquirer is spot on.
(In fact one of the best I read lately)

If people would learn from their mistakes... but no... everything will be forgotten in a few weeks...

It is really, really sad... we have it all in the Philippines... it could be one of the best countries in the world... but we keep on destroying it for greed, greed, greed....

I love this country.... but sometimes I equally hate it !

kg said...

oh my! were these pics taken after the typhoon?

Edik said...

Sid- you are getting the love-hate relationship with my country.

indeed, it takes a calamity to wake most of us up. i could not even explain why and how this mentality grew deep in our hearts. (meaning this is a tragic case).

Edik said...

Grace- those pics were taken last May 09 (i believe) since the blogger from where i took the pics posted it so.

please click on the link on the lower part of my blog.

kg said...

i just found the "source". the photos are from dennis villegas.

mind if i use the same photos on my blog?

Edik said...

i think it is okay Grace. as usual, we should acknowledge the owners.

kg said...

yes, i've also asked permission from dennis and am just waiting for his response. :)