Aerial photo of monstrous urban blight in Manila shocks Filipinos!

This aerial photo of what could be a suburb of Metro Manila made desolate by a wilderness of urban shanties as far as the eye could see has been making the social media rounds over the weekend.


The first I came across it was on a Sunday morning post on the Get Real Philippines Community on Facebook (original source here).

A report from Manila Coconuts confirmed that it was taken by a certain Daphne Oseña Paez on a Philippine Airlines flight and that the area shown is part of Metro Manila’s Pasig City. “I took this photo on June 12, 2015. It was not edited or filtered. I just cropped it. This is Pasig City,” says Paez confirming that the photo is an authentic depiction of urban blight in said city.

The extent to which the Philippines’ premiere megalopolis has been developed in the dense haphazardly manner shown in this photo is not readily apparent to the affluent class of Filipinos who are in the best positions to solve the Philippines’ many intractable problems.

The most evident result of sprawling human habitation such as this is the degradation of the river system upon which Manila is built.

Metro Manila is, by its very nature, a city vulnerable to flooding. Yet it has grown and developed into a monstrous megalopolis that, today, teeters on the brink of catastrophic failure. Manila is bisected by the Pasig River into which connect a system of natural waterways that both feed into it and absorb excess water in times of heavy water flow (say, brought about by heavy rains).

Much of the forests that once covered highlands from which water that feeds Manila’s river systems originates once served as the lowlands’ first line of protection from torrential water flow into the low-lying rivers and waterway systems. With that forest cover gone, Manila would have benefited greatly had its natural river system channels still been intact today — perhaps, had city planners applied a bit of foresight, these might even have been enhanced and even turned into key features of the city.

Unfortunately, Nature has caught up with Filipinos’ decades of irresponsible urban development. Metro Manila is as flooded by water as it is by humans. When you increase throughput without increasing channel capacity, you get latency. Just as Filipino commuters are bogged down in traffic on their roadways everyday, Manila’s rain water is suffering from the same condition — heavy traffic along Manila’s waterways. Just as Manila’s roads have been clogged by street vendors and buses and jeepneys driven by idiotic drivers, rivers and canals crisscrossing the city are blocked by silt, garbage, and human refuse.

How much more “resilience” can Metro Manila residents exhibit? When flood waters come knocking at the doorsteps of the very folk who like waxing poetic about Filipinos’ legendary “resilience”, perhaps we can expect a bit of a change in the tune traditionally sung by our venerable “thought leaders” soon.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of

Leave a Reply

29 Comments on "Aerial photo of monstrous urban blight in Manila shocks Filipinos!"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Neighborhoods built up all at once change little physically over the years as a rule.

Local residents regret that the neighborhood has changed. Yet the fact is, physically it has changed remarkably little.

People’s feelings about it, rather, have changed. The neighborhood shows a strange inability to update itself, enliven itself, repair itself, or to be sought after, out of choice, by a new generation.

It is dead. Actually it was dead from birth, but nobody noticed this much until the corpse began to smell.

Dale Gozar
This viral picture of Pasig is the direct result of lack of Vision, poor Planning, Zoning violations, informal setlers, neglegence and greed of local official and it’s people. Maybe the easiest way to rectify this problem is to 1st nuke/bomb (war) or destroy it via natural disaster and start rebuilding from the ruins (scratch), just imagine how many casualties. Kidding aside, Architect & Urban planner Daniel Burnham was mainly responsible for the master plan of most our cities. RECTANGULAR STREET GRID system approach (Chicago, New York, etc.) is the main cause of our traffic creating numerous intersections (stops). Instead of… Read more »

this is what our country looks like if it is reached to 100 million people. #sad 🙁


As is Google Maps ain’t enough.

This makes most of the dystopic settings in popular fiction look mild in comparison.


When you peddle to foreign tourists: the “Pilipinas, Ang Ganda”…then, the tourists will see these shanties, before landing on the Manila International Airport.

Maybe, the tourists, will even be hesitant to stay for a day…

Aquino era has brought out this incompetence.
We hope , this Aquino era will be gone soon. It is an era of greed, incompetence and irresponsibilities…


Looks pretty hopeless.I bet the guy who took the picture wanted to stay up in the air as long as he could b4 going back into that mess.


I see by the other comments, that nuking the crap out of the shit-hole may be the best option,if true, and it just may be…….. THAT IS TRULY HOPELESS.


The image verily sums up the current state of the country. A weak body being slowly devoured by a disease.

The Philippines unfortunately, seems to have gone to a point of no return. With the ruling class and culture firmly in place complete with methods of getting rid of dissenters. Either by their goons or the fanatics that follow them. And even if the ‘masa’ rose up… the country will fall into ruin not unlike most African states because of the culture.

Only a cultural revolution may fix the Philippines at this point.

Daphne Osena Paez

Hi guys,

Thanks for picking up the story. But I have to ask you to credit and link to the original source, which is my photo. You know the rules.



Still people don’t realize that what the country needs right now are more concerned citizens, Filipinos concerned in their surroundings and in what their elected officials do. Where’s the pride the Pinoys claim when they let their taxes be corrupted or misuse, when they let themselves be governed by crooks and lazy thinkers, when they let the richness and forces of their country get wasted?

I see pics of Los Angeles that look like this. However, Manila’s problems probably dates back to the 1900s. The Burnham Plan of Manila (1905) had 100+ foot-wide road arteries, some of them on reclaimed esteros. The flooding would be absorbed instead by numerous parks of which only a few have been built (such as the now small Harrison Park). It didn’t provide housing for those who will be affected in the construction of the plan. The plan was left incompleted when Quezon City was established. The QC Plan (1941) would have had a central park in the 4 “Triangles”… Read more »

No nuke needed. We just need to wait for the Great earthquake like that of what happened in Japan know as the Kanto earthquake. That should kill all the filth.

Well, this is a tough reminder. Thank you, Daphne Osena Paez. As an individual, I can only do my share. While I don’t live in that place (Pasig), I am thinking about moving to the province soon where my parents and their parents started first to help reduce the already overcrowded Metro Manila. Work to save up to say another 10 years (or less), after that retire early and enjoy my youth and the fresh air of the province of Sorsogon (actually in one of its remote barangays). I hope others will do the same. Stay to work for a… Read more »
Juan Dela Cruz III

Ang Pilipino magaling lang sa salita.


You wanna know why this is happening? It’s because our governemnt lacks political will to do what is right and called for for fear of losing a vast majority of votes coming from the shanties come next election… When will we ever learn?

Jen Chrsytman

God bless the men and women who live in areas such as this, with a double blessing for their children! They are not trash to be swept aside or “nuked” in any way – or ignored! Let’s support NGOs like Bukang Liwayway Dawn for the Poor who sponsor children in school, bring the love of Jesus into the slums and create a sustainable climate of positive change. Give up? Give up some of your time and cash. Invest in your amazing people who live in these places!