Monday, August 20, 2012

Is it Time for a New Metro Manila?

View of the beautiful Metro Manila (Makati central business district).
"Evacuate all the people to a safe distance, then drop a radioactive-free warhead (no such thing?) to eradicate Metro Manila from the face of the Earth."   Sounds like a plot for a "pitu-pito" (i.e., a poor-quality movie that's rapidly made in 7 days which is quite popular in the Philippines in the 1990's).   How about opening all those surrounding dams and submerge the whole of Metro Manila in water?  There's another thought.  Cheaper and less scarier I might add. 

If there's New York, New Mexico, New Jersey, New Hampshire, etc., why not a "New Metro Manila"(Darn!  "New Manila" is already taken.)   We shall move Metro Manila, the New Metro Manila, to higher grounds.  Hmmm, perhaps somewhere NORTH, in Bulacan, or down, way in the SOUTH in Mindanao.  We can study all of PAGASA's empirical data for the last 50 years and discover that land where no typhoon has ever crossed or where no flooding is recorded, ever.  Once found, with top-notch "urban planners", we will develop the New Metro Manila from the ground up!  Does this sound like a plan to you?

Satellite view of the Manggahan Floodway.
A closer look.  See the executive villages on both sides of the floodway.   The houses are big and the  land properly zoned.
A much closer look.  The houses on the left and right side of the floodway are shanties.  They are "informal settlers".  One of the major causes that pollute the floodway with tons of GARBAGES.
A much, much closer look.  Those are more than 25 thousand informal settlers along Manggahan Floodway in Pasig-Marikina.  They narrowed and polluted the floodway.
Metro Manila is quite poor in coping with disasters.  Disasters that should have been averted in the first place!  Take for instance the most recent disaster that hit the capital - the flooding of Metro Manila caused by the enhanced southwest monsoon.  The southwest monsoon is a natural phenomenon.  Whether it has been enhanced or not by other meteorological systems (such as typhoons or cyclones), the floods in Metro Manila should not have reached 15 feet high, and could have receded in a matter of hours - NOT DAYS!

With the growing population of Metro Manila, it has become even harder and more costly to evacuate and provide full assistance to the people affected by natural calamities.  It is now evident more than ever, that the Philippine government has to put forth a "solid plan" in assuring that the atrocious flooding of the capital will not happen again.

So, what should the "solid plan" be?  I already told you and I was serious.  Well, not with the earlier warhead and the sinking part, but with the creation of a new capital - the New Metro Manila.  If China in the name of progress was able to sink cities that are considered anthropological, archaeological, and historical sites since they existed for more than a thousand years, and relocated some 1.4 million people, why can't the Philippines?  One of the engineering marvels of our modern times is China's Three Gorges Dam.  This megastructure considered as the world's largest power station has displaced cities and people!
China's Three Gorges Dam
(Photo is from,)
Urbanization has a price!  Obviously!  Is our government ready to undertake radical moves which will require massive funding in order to preclude future spending (and wastage) in dealing with the results of natural calamities?  I wouldn't know!  But the government SHOULD!  Enough with the excuses.  The problems that the government and the people faced in the recent flooding events are "largely" caused by the government itself.  The government is "mostly" at fault.  How so, you asked?  Let's examine.  Here's the cycle:

(1)  meteorological phenomenon happens (typhoons, cyclones, enhanced southwest monsoon);
(2)  floods occur (goes higher and higher, and they do not recede immediately; instead they last for days);
(3)  evacuate the people living in the dangerous areas;
(4)  provide the evacuees relief goods and whatever assistance necessary;
(5)  after days (and the floods have receded to manageable levels), people go back to their homes;
(6)  government thinks of ways on how to relocate people that are in the dangerous areas as sort of "preparation" for future untoward events;
(7)  nothing happens with government plans;
(8)  the year has ended;
(9)  go back to (1) meteorological phenomenon happens and repeat the steps!

While the cycle is happening, millions of pesos worth of properties and crops are being destroyed.  Millions of pesos of funds that could have been spent on the much-needed HEALTHCARE and URBANIZATION went out to funding rescue operations, relief supplies, pumping out of flood water, dredging of creeks, rivers and sewerage, and many more activities dealing with the aftermath of the calamity.

So, again, how is it the government's fault?  CHICKEN WIRE.  That's my answer!  Is chicken wire that expensive that the government could not afford to put up fences along the floodways and riverbanks?  What?  Connect please!

In the vicious cycle above, the natural meteorological phenomenon isn't the cause of the problem.  The problem is FLOODING.  And the cause are the GARBAGE clogging our floodways and sewerages.  Where did these  tons of GARBAGE come from?  They are "mostly" from the informal settlers along the riverbanks and floodways.  I heard from a TV news program that there are more than 25 thousand families living in just one of those dangerous areas.  Areas that are obviously government properties.  Imagine how much more we have to add in the count of informal dwellers if we included those who have built shanties beside creeks and sewerages scattered all over Metro Manila.  (Not to mention vacant lots of the government without fences!  Inviting!  Alluring!  CHICKEN WIRE, for Juan's sake.)  Had the government put up fences in those areas with the corresponding signs that say "NO TRESPASSING.  GOVERNMENT PROPERTY", do you think we would have these problems now?   Do you think that the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will have problems with their pumps if there's no GARBAGE around?  Do you think that the amount the government needed to spend in relocating these more than 25 thousand families would come close to the amount that would be needed to put up those fences in the first place?  So, why aren't there fences?

Every year, the number of these informal settlers increase at an exponential rate.  (Reasons:  (1) people from the provinces converge in the capital and settle alongside floodways, rivers, creeks, and sewerages.  (2) and, would you be surprised to learn that the families living in those depressed areas have 5 to 10 children, and some even more?)  The population in those dangerous areas increase maybe even more during "election years".  So, why aren't there fences?  Simple.  These informal settlers are also being used by evil local politicians.  They are VOTES!  One, two, three... thousands of VOTES!   Sons of bit@#*$!  After the politicians step into their offices, where do we see these informal settlers?  Forgotten!  Like wild mushrooms, they continually boom and bloom alongside lakes, rivers, creeks, and sewerages.  Do you see now the connection?  Every year, we go through the cycle - lose millions of pesos then spend more millions of pesos.

So, what do we do now?  For you - think of how you can help the government in achieving a New Metro Manila - whether it's a "literally" new national capital region located in a whole new area in the Philippines, or "figuratively",  a resurgence of an improved old city.  For me - let you know and remind the government about CHICKEN WIRE.  

What does the government need now?  STRONG LEADERSHIP!  The government should have the "balls" - STRONG WILL and the VISION to "steer" the people to the path towards a better future.

Okay, I'll shut my mouth now… (just for now)CHICKEN WIRE!  Barbed wire?  Yeah, why not?  CHICKEN WIRE!  CHICKEN WIRE!  CHICKEN WIRE!  Bok-bok-bokok!


  1. Nice try. Nanakawin lang ang chicken wire mo at ipapakilo.

    1. Hey, thanks for your comment. Yes, you are absolutely correct. That is one possibility. However, I wish to tell you that here in Pasig, there are a lot of privately owned patches of vacant land. No "squatter" dared put up makeshift four-walls-and-a-roof in those lots because thy are fenced. That's right, simple CHICKEN WIRE. And, oh yes, there's a big sign - "NO TRESPASSING". I tell you it is effective! Simple people know what "NO TRESPASSING" means.

      There's one huge parcel of land along C-5 right across Pasig SM Hypermart. It is owned by GSIS (i.e., government property). It is fenced! For decades now, there are no informal settlers there. Only old, tall trees. Another good example is the vacant land along Shaw Boulevard opposite One San Miguel (I think, or near it). The land is fenced. Lo, and behold! For decades, it is clean as a whistle. These scenarios are very much different with vacant lands in Quezon City, say Agham Road? The only difference my friend, is CHICKEN WIRE.

      The solution to the problem you pointed out is regular police visits, say once a month to check the integrity of the fences. An everyday round even, would not be costly since the police is already doing it anyway. CCTV cameras nowadays are cost-effective. There are more ways to maintain the fences, you know.

      A whole lot of difference would be seen if the government would just put up fences in those areas.