habagat blues

yes, it’s wonderful that again, as in ondoy, faceless nameless good-hearted people are pitching in, helping out the government and the red cross in rescue and relief operations for flood victims.  but if, when, this happens again, and again — if indeed this is the “new normal” — volunteer fatigue will surely set in, sooner rather than later.

thank goodness then that despite claims that various measures undertaken by the government had mitigated flood problems and prevented another flooding on the scale of the one caused by tropical storm “Ondoy” in September 2009 — really? — the president is promising long-term solutions, such as flood control infrastructure and better garbage disposal, even if these seem inadequate to the enormity of the problem that includes denuded forests and silted rivers and waterways clogged with trash or taken over by squatter colonies with nowhere else to go.

here’s hoping this aquino admin welcomes unsolicited advice (something cory didn’t) from well-meaning citizens and, even, pinoys abroad.  check out the comments section of this new york times piece, Rains Flood a Third of Manila Area, Displacing Thousands.  read too alex magno’s Deluge, rigoberto tiglao’s The typhoon curse and what to do about it, and alejandro del rosario’s Looking like a shoal.

meanwhile, i’m glad pag-asa’s color coding has changed from red-green-yellow to red-orange-yellow, better late than never.  red makes sense, as in red alert, danger; in traffic red means stop or else!  yellow too makes sense; in traffic it means caution, prepare to stop or go, change coming.  but green, as in green grass and leaves, chlorophyll and oxygen, is good; in traffic green means go, it’s safe, coast is clear.  as intermediate point between caution and danger, green just did not make sense.   orange is the appropriate color code between yellow and red, between caution and danger.  add a little red to yellow and you get orange.  why didn’t pag-asa see this from the first?  what kind of thinking was going on over there?

as for dost’s project noah, that the aquino admin is so proud of, tina monzon-palma’s talkback episode monday night, when the rains started in earnest, said it all.  project noah is helpful and accessible only to english-speaking and computer-literate government officials with internet connections.  sabi nga ni tina, kailangang i-layman-ize ang language (in both  english and tagalog, may i suggest), at kailangang maiparating sa local government officials on the ground, or else, as in this habagat, it is of no help in getting across warnings of great volumes of rainfall coming.

not that getting the message across will guarantee that people living in high-risk areas would be more willing or eager to leave their homes.  unless they can be assured that their homes and property will be secured against looters, as in provident village (a rare case), there will always be those who will wait until the last minute in the hope that god heeds their prayers and stops the rains before the floods rise too high.

the real solution is to relocate all communities away from high-risk areas.  but apart from the problem of where to relocate them and their expected resistance, there’s this that ondoy and the habagat showed:  what used to be low-risk places that never flooded are now high-risk, too, thanks to climate change and trash dams.  it doesn’t help that goverment mismo is saying it’s the “new normal,” as though to say we’ve got to get used to it, which is of a piece with the president saying that there are no instant solutions.  already you doubt that anything significant is going to get done before the next deluge descends upon us.

i know, there’s nothing instantnoodle about infrastructure, but hey, the dredging of rivers, esteros, canals, etc., the clearing of waterways and underground drainage systems metro wide is something that can be done the moment the weather clears.  and garbage management is something that government can grapple with right away, as in now na.  stop with the spin that we are all complicit in the garbage problem, stop laying it at our doorsteps, because what’s lacking is government initiatives and support for serious solid waste management.  people are willing to segregate their household trash but what’s the use if truckers just dump the biodegradable and non-biodegradable, etc. in the same old overflowing garbage dumps, and worse, into rivers and creeks, and even into manila bay.

it’s more fun in the philippines?  no, just more trashy, and pretentious.


  1. joji-Diehard Pinoy

    Going thru the articles of R.Tiglao,a. Magno and A. DelRosario and the comments thereon, the scientific short/long term solutions are not lacking. In fact,a massive and widespread flooding in NCR and Central Luzon, cost 49 lives only because all the affected private individuals and the agencies involved in risk and disaster management were on their toes to reduce casualties. It goes without saying, previous administrations for the past decades have failed miserably to address this curse due to lack of political will and moral leadership to instill discipline to fight deforestation, dikes destruction,wastes disposal problem and proliferation of informal settlers in affected communities. Perhaps, people should focus their activities towards community order and unity instead of watching too much teleseryes, attending fiestas and novenas to appeal to their favorite saints to spare their lives. There should be a change in our cultural habitat and not rely on govt to do its own act and prevent an alleged “man-made disaster” aggravated by 9 years of GMA inaction.

    • but i think, joji, that the overall problem is too enormous and complicated na, that people’s actions need to be motivated and coordinated and spearheaded by government according to a master plan, or else, wala, sabog lang.

  2. joji-Diehard Pinoy

    Definitely,a master plan incorporating all viable project proposals must be implemented and coordinated by a central planning agency whose task is simply to make sure the necessary infrastructure are in place and the local govt officials are made accountable so that all legal, social and technical problems are eliminated and made aware to the various stakeholders, they will reap the social and economics benefits if and when the state exercise its power to eminent domain. The present perception that we have an elected president who is honest and has no hidden agenda is enough motivation to push for accountability from heads of critical agencies addressing this problem. As one of my professors in accounting has said to attack complicated problem, apply the KISS principle,i.e. keep it simple,stupid.