Sunday, August 18, 2013

WATERWORLD: Or How to Survive in a City Below Sea Level

As I write this, I am trapped.

Out here in the southern suburb, the rains have not ceased since last night.  It is good to be in bed with the sound of downpour providing a calming and cooling feeling as you cuddle up with your pillows and enjoy the company of the Sandman.  But the sound of rain is only calming if you are in that place where you want to be ... and you don't have to be anywhere else at any given time within the day.

After all, coming home from a Sunday night event in Pasay City was already an ordeal.  As early as 3 PM the rains have started to pour --- and even if I was insulated from what turned out to be another fluvial experience in the safety of the Cuneta Astrodome, the rest of the city was already sinking in rising flood waters.  

By 10:45 PM, when it was time to go home --- the maneuvering necessary just to avoid sinking in knee high flood waters was a test of cunning, driving expertise and --- yes, a mastery of all the possible routes in the streets of Manila.

And even as the rains keep coming as I pound on my keyboard, memories of that now legendary Onday creeps into my consciousness. 

Again insulated in the southern 'burbs, I was completely unaware that the Marikina River was overflowing, that cities and villages were literally sinking under the rising waters and the death toll was rising. But it was enough of a trauma.  It was enough to see photographs of how high the waters rose ... and how much damage to human lives and properties were done.

What is even more frightful is the inevitable fact.  Despite, in spite and over above all the efforts done by government, this will happen again and again.  The flood waters will rise in Marikina, Bulacan, certain parts of Laguna, Malabon, etcetera.  The seeming irreversible effect of man's violation and abuse of nature have taken toll --- and remedies done at this point is merely palliative and not conclusive.

Now that is frightening.

It is frightening to admit that the clogged esteros and waterways where garbage is irresponsibly dumped has become so lethal that the determination of government agencies to correct this grievous sin has fallen short of the degree of consequence now suffered.  The work must be ongoing but the disaster has also become overwhelming.

Easier it is to dismiss all this as a result of global warming saying that, "Kahit nga sa Amerika nangyayari yan, sa Pinas pa kaya?"  But still.  Are we therefore here to accept the fact that flood waters will continue to rise as the sea level also reaches unfathomable heights because of the melting of the Polar Caps?

Are we to tell the rich and can-afford that it is time to acquire not Hummers or pampapogi Jeeps but to purchase amphibian tanks instead?  Are we to accept that it has become part of twenty first century existence to deal with floods, live in areas that will be submerged in murky waters and take the punishment for generations of insensitivity to natural balance or even respect for the planet?

As somebody told me with such cynical and vicious conviction,"Face it. It ain't going to get any better. It's just going to be far much worse."

So as I am trapped in my house as the rains keep pouring, I can only be thankful that I took swimming lessons in college.  And that wading in dirty flood waters can just turn out to be yet another national sport.


  1. Natawa naman ako sa last paragraph pero it really makes sense Direk, mag swimming lesson nako.