Manila monsoon flooding: People are just collateral damage

Another year, another flood. How much more can Metro Manila take? Well, whether or not it can take any more, it’s gonna get more. In the Philippines’ grand old megalopolis, population is galloping at a rate faster than the city’s ironic water supply can keep up with. Its rivers are all silted up and its surrounding mountain ranges denuded — which means it will get more and more storm water running through it while employing less and less capacity to drain it into the sea. Because more and more people are coming in from the hinterlands and putting their lives at risk setting up homesteads in flood plains and on the banks of rivers and esteros, more and more emergency services will be required to navigate less and less roads to get to them when disaster strikes.


Whilst Ondoy in 2009 and Habagat 1.0 in 2012 were “wake up calls” to the already untenable environmental and social problem that is Metro Manila, most normal people would have regarded Habagat 2.0 2013 more like a kick in the ass. Trouble is, this is the Philippines — a society that defines “normalcy” in a way different to the rest of the world. Like every other problem in the Philippines that has long been allowed to fester (think of that other obvious problem begging obvious solutions: corruption bankrolled by pork barrel funds), Manila residents greeted the latest deluge with a shrug and a wow-we-are-a-resilient-people-so-let’s-all-congratulate-ourselves-and-get-on-with-life-when-this-is-over sort of attitude. Perhaps it could be because “only” nine people died this time. Fair enough. If 700 dead people in 2009 failed to move Filiipinos then, hey, what’s nine people among friends, right?

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The only “shocking” news we get nowadays are how places that just a few years ago have never been touched by floodwaters — Magallanes Village and Sucat Road are the most familiar to me personally — are now making the news. The good news is Metro Manila has never been as united. The bad news is that it is united in wretchedness. Indeed, here we are again, waist-deep in a brew of muddy, sewage-laced, mountain water. The usual “heroes” swooped in again in their rubber dinghies, Land Rovers, and orange vests. And the usual kanya-kanya (disjointed) calls for donations to the “victims” are rippling across social media. So what else is new? I’ll bet there will be more of those next year. And the year after next.

There is nothing sadder than something once regarded as special degenerating into a banality (think people power “revolutions”).

We really shouldn’t be too surprised that this is all happening. 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.

What can you do?

Nothing really. If you think about it, all this is of no consequence to Mother Nature. If the rivers aren’t deep enough to handle volume during heavy rains, guess what: the water simply flows through wherever it can flow through. Unfortunately, in this case, people happen to be in the way. Tough luck.

[Photo courtesy]

20 Replies to “Manila monsoon flooding: People are just collateral damage”

  1. It is sad really to see the Philippines in a state like this, you see other countries for example Egypt, band together to get rid of the corrupt officials. Here however its a different story, we have corrupt officials with corrupt people working under them, its ironic how we are a Catholic nation and yet its the one filled with the most bad influence. In the end, either mother nature takes it course and kills us with floods sinking the Metro Manila or the egos and idiotic tendencies of our government officials. Either or, hopefully this coming march goes for the best, if not then its another wasted effort.

      1. thats cute hep.

        technically not a catholic nation, but the majority has their skirt up and is bending over to the catholic church getting gaped and rammed hard.

    1. @ benigno, I’ve been following GRP and really love the write ups. painful as it may be to hear but it is the truth. Truth hurts! But keep on writing them to fuel the rage and enlightenment that most people do not see.

      @JDbroman – IMHO, that is the problem, people have it in their minds that the Philippines is a Catholic nation – NOT! What does that mean? It means the brainwashing to further the stupidity by mass hallucination that all this is because of a white bearded guy in the sky controlling all Filipino lives/decisions and everything is due to “his” will. Until the “holy” Catholics in our country remove their intruding claws in how to run the country and the lives of the people, will our nation grow up. We need a very strict form of government where every wrong turn is punished. Put back the death penalty for major crimes, lashings should be done for thieves and those that disobey the law. It’s been inculcated since childbirth and what most of us is brought up to – follow the leader. If the leader is corrupt then it is okay to be corrupt.
      Good bye Manila, soon there will be a new lake in the capital of the Republic of the Philippines! There is something all the people can do – educate themselves and really think hard about who is to be elected and work hard for themselves.

      1. Thanks. It’s not really rage that I am hoping to fuel, but hiya (loss of face). But then I think Filipinos probably have such thick faces that there is lots of it they can afford to lose before anything will ever be truly achieved.

    1. You know what? The recent storm and this Monsoon rain is unravelling a lot. I wonder what other surprises are waiting for us.

    2. filipinos and world class should not even be mentioned in the same breath.

      filipinos build things like crap, jerry rigged, cut corners, no standards, and no quality control.

      the only time it is quality controlled is when there is a foreign company in the philippines that has stringent standards.

      quality, high standards, and excellence is not inherent to filipino culture.

  2. @Ian,

    “… those that disobey the law. It’s been inculcated since childbirth and what most of us is brought up to – follow the leader. If the leader is corrupt then it is okay to be corrupt.

    Maybe I read this all wrong, but to me this reads like a contradiction.
    You want the people to follow the leader even if he/she is corrupt. But once one disobeys the laws he/she should be punished.

    Maybe its better to first make GOOD laws and a complete new constitution. I still read too much religion into most laws and the constitution. May I remind you that the Philippines is still the only country on this planet that has no legal divorce law?

  3. @Benign0,

    I think you can copy and paste a story like this every year after yet another flooding. Nothing changes. But maybe what is worse (it is not worse of course) is that all foreign countries look at the Philippines and smile/laugh about it all. By not solving this problem for once and for good it gives all foreigners a strange/weird idea that the philippine citizen lives are worth nothing (to the government) and to the people themselves. As if they take each loss (of life) for granted.

    So it goes much higher and much deeper than that. It also shows how the Philippines represents itself to the outside world.

  4. @Benogn0,

    You know what? People here in my country would go berserk at our own government demanding them to do something about it. And the people themselves would move out from a shithole area that is so prone for floodings and start living in a safer area. But none of that happensa in the Philippines. I really wonder if those people are really liking to masochist themselves?? Its really unbelieveable, surreal almost.

    1. Ha ha! Don’t worry (re misspelling), no harm done. Indeed, while there are lots of bursts of outrage fads in the Philippines, there is hardly any sustained consistent effort to hold officials accountable on a routine day-to-day basis. A lot of outrage against idiot politicians never manifest themselves during elections, for example.

  5. Once again this is a situation that can be prevented but we don’t. Not sure how we can proud of anything since what you articulated will not be fixed. Among other things Pinoys do nothing about.

    1. Indeed, a lot of it was preventable. The enormous scale of the problem now dwarfs any solution that small minds can think of at present, unfortunately.

  6. IF this is not enough to enrage the entire citizenry, well then it is just about time to leave and never come back.
    Almost nothing in the county works in terms of twenty first century standards. the roads are,uh? Laughable. there are no environmental laws enforced. The forests are being cut down and sold for almost nothing which further aggravates the floods and revenues are lost as well. Pile on top of that the corruption that is as massive as any corrupt country on the planet. The electricity prices are the highest in the world, the flat out gauging of the customers is, or should be , illegal. Brownouts constantly.
    The country is an absolute mess and it would seem that to any intelligent nation of people that it is either time to demand, like Iceland did in 2009, a reform acceptable to the countries citizens OR , once the floods subside, abandon ship. Coz, baby, the place is sinking faster than a led zeppelin.
    The good news, if there is any, is that the country does not have much further to fall in terms of rock bottom. I mean, when Bangladesh is doing just as well as you are…its bad.

  7. people are the collateral damage of the flooding of manila….i dont think so, every people either residing in manila or nearby provinces are the cause of this flooding. people who votes for the leaders of each in every cities and municipalities, people who continue to throw garbage even if it is a cover of a candy or a cigarette butt, people who over develops manila without concrete engineering plan, people where decades of neglect (deforestation of the province rizal mountains).so every one of us is the culprit of what is happening in manila and no excuses….

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