Deja vu all over again as Typhoon Mario’s devastation of Metro Manila mirrors Ondoy’s in 2009

Today may as well have been a day in September 2009 when Typhoon Ondoy struck and devastated Manila. Back then I wrote about the Philippine government’s utter failure to step up and provide relief to hundreds of thousands of its victims (a failure to be repeated many more times since), and how Metro Manilans pretty much had to fend for themselves. They were left to assure themselves that the spirit of bayanihan was alive — that it would, in conjunction with that other imagined Filipino virtue, “resilience”, save the day.

Heavily-flooded Araneta Avenue @ 1210H todaySource: Twitter.

Heavily-flooded Araneta Avenue @ 1210H today
Source: Twitter.

Whether or not the same thing will happen again in the aftermath of this year’s Typhoon Fung-Wong (known locally as “Mario”) is anyone’s guess. Filipinos have since become a bit jaded about being charitable on the occassion of Philippine disasters following revelations of how horrendous amounts of relief goods donated by both foreign and local agencies meant for the victims of 2013’s Supertyphoon Haiyan were left to rot under the watch of the Philippine government. Relief money was also spent by the Philippine government on the construction of temporary housing for Haiyan’s victims that were reportedly found to be substandard.

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This year it was pretty much more of the same. Metro Manila was all but paralysed as floodwaters rushed in from Metro Manila’s denuded hinterlands and settled onto city streets where it will likely stagnate for a while as it makes its way into Manila Bay and Laguna Lake through Manila’s clogged stormdrain systems and fouled-up waterways. In the meantime, the same wretched state of affairs persists. Commuters and motorists alike remain stranded all over the teeming megalopolis as rains continue to fall.

According to the records of the state weather bureau, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Mario dumped 268mm of rain on Metro Manila in just 12 hours. Comparing that to Ondoy which, in 2009, dumped 400mm in 24 hours, Mario is hour-for-hour a lot rainier than its super-predecessor.

Sampaloc c.1000h todaySource: Twitter.

Sampaloc c.1000h today
Source: Twitter.

The way the Philippine government has so far responded to the devastation is no different to the way it did back in 2009. Both the behaviour of the government, and the way Manila was devastated again makes it quite evident that nothing much has changed. The same clogged drains, the same sluggish emergency response, the same confusing communication, and the same overall national paralysis.

Ondoy struck in 2009 under the watch of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Since then, this, among many other alleged issues, has been the subject of criticism coming from no less than current President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III who’s made his presidential mark mainly around blaming the country’s ills on Arroyo. This time, however, Fung-Wong joins Haiyan as well as lesser but devastating storms nonetheless — Typhoon Washi (Sendong) which devastated Cagayan de Oro City in 2011 and Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) which laid waste to Davao City and Compostela Valley in 2012, among others — in a growing exhibit of gross government incompetence in the Philippines.

Observers have attributed the Philippines’ acute vulnerability to storm devastation to President BS Aquino’s short-sighted (and, many say, spiteful) cancellation of 1.9 billion pesos worth of flood control projects already earmarked by the Arroyo government before the start of the Aquino administration.

Vehicle braves Sumulong HighwaySource: Twitter.

Vehicle braves Sumulong Highway
Source: Twitter.

President BS Aquino also vetoed budget normally allocated to the disaster response or “Calamity” fund. Many believe a lack of resources to support emergency response capability resulting from this decision was a big part of the reason behind the astounding incompetence and lack of coordination exhibited by the Philippine government to the world in the crucial days after Haiyan struck Tacloban City in 2013.

Even on good days, Metro Manila is a wretched city, choked by 24-hour-a-day traffic gridlock, smothered by toxic pollution, infested by vast squatter colonies, served by a dilapidated public transport network, and patrolled by crooked police officers. Typhoon Mario is a sad insult to an already severely injured megalopolis. For now, Metro Manilans can only pray and hope and figure out what it is exactly they should be hoping and praying for.

26 Replies to “Deja vu all over again as Typhoon Mario’s devastation of Metro Manila mirrors Ondoy’s in 2009”

  1. I like how you mentioned foreign aid concerning this. After what happened in Haiyan/Sendong, it’s likely going to be difficult for the country to receive foreign aid after this is all over. Other countries will be wary of the government’s intentions, the people won’t get any relief goods and supplies, and it’s likely going to take that much longer to rebuild.

    Meanwhile, the government’s going to continue with what they’re doing and ask why no one’s coming to help.

    1. What is the point of acquiring relief supplies if their is no way to distribute them to the people that need them? The infrastructure is inadequate under the best of circumstances.

      I’ll never forget the images of people standing in line at the airport waiting for a flight out. Many were fainting from thirst and hunger while truckloads of boxes were being whisked by them. It just did not occur to the organizers to take a few boxes off the palate, break them open, and help the people standing next to them. Unreal!!!

  2. There’s no big and small sin. The people’s habit of disposing their garbage anywhere and being at ease with dirty and damaged surroundings that clogs the drainage canals or the emphasis for building infrastructures/real estate without regard to urban geography or environment which then blocked the space for free flow of torrential rain waters, contributing to the (fast rising of) flood is the same as PNoy’s short-sightedness concerning flood control projects. For example PNoy or GMA pursue the said project but the Filipinos undisciplined way of garbage disposal remains the same that would probably cause double work, double pay. On the other hand, if the residents themselves make sure that nothing clogs the drainage canals or make sure that the drainage system helps alleviate flood, would it cost about P2B to address the now normal flooding situation? But here, we have the big and small sin partnering for doomsday. We have a laid-back implementation of the law regarding disciplining people.

  3. We need proactive and competent public administrators handling:

    a. Long range climate change management at national and local levels;
    b. Benchmark ISO disaster rescue and relief government response at national and local levels;

  4. The same old story in the hell-hole Philippines. No planning or even a thought of how to deal with the floods that happen yearly.

    The countries that provided the supplies last time did not like that they were stolen or not handed out, good luck getting anyone to help this time !

  5. I think disaster mitigation should also involve reforestation and watershed management. Garbage disposal and quarterly dredging of river and canal system shld be integrated.
    Time bound relocation of urban informal sector is a must for all urban centers and may involve industry dispersal.
    Urban planning and urban renewal become urgent concerns.

  6. Climate change measures shld include flood barrier systems in critical coastlines of the country. NIMBY (not in my backyard) measures shld not tolerated. INTEGRATED Flood measures shld encompass adjacent/contiguous areas like perennially flooded areas such as CAMANAVA.

  7. God helps those who help themselves. Unfortunately, prayers will not solve our perenial flood problems.

    Aquino is incompetent, lazy and is a thief. As long as he is safe in Malacanang Palace. He does not care of his fellow Filipinos.

    He is more on : political dramas; persecuting his political enemies; blaming previous administrations for the ills of the country. He is even blaming Marcos, who has been dead for more than 30 years…

    This mentally retarded idiot will never solve the perenial flooding problems of Metro Manila. Neither, the Governor of Metro Manila; who is equally incompetent. Nor, the Mayor of Manila, who is a thief. Or the Vice Mayor of Manila, who is incompetent.

    Prod these people like cattles. So that they will act and move.

  8. Well, I actually think the flood is an improvement..
    I’d even go so far and say:
    Manila should be permanently flooded on purpose! Think of it as a stinkier, uncivilised version of Venice.. Traffic problem will be instantly solved.. Squatter problem: solved… it would likely be less noisy, less ugly, more sanitary, and eventually maybe less smelly than Manila has been in the past years..
    Hopefully millions of people would finally move out of Manila and head back to the provinces, where there is much more space.
    Since the current poor excuse of an airport, would be underwater, someone would have to finally come up with some alternative solution for an airport.
    For those remaining in Manila.. they would just have to get a boat.
    It might actually become a tourist attraction at some point.
    Residents may even finally decide to build a proper sewage system, as their shit is flowing past their little windows, instead of being pumped into manila bay, as it is today..

    For many years I was trying to come up with possible solutions for Manila.. Without much success I may say…
    I do not like the nuclear Fallout, which would follow the first idea I had, thus the idea of permanently flooding Manila seems like a more desirable long term solution.


  9. Playtime
    Just need a load of rubber ducks to put into the world’s biggest bath tub.

    You can write the same story 2024, 2034, 2044, 2054 Nothing will change.

    1. How can you play in the flood, with all those garbages and human wastes floating?

      Sometimes, the height of the floodwater can go up in a minute. It can carry you away; and you drown…

        1. I will not drown; I am a good swimmer. I have a life vest. I own a rubber boat. And, I have a scuba diving gears.

          The only one that endangers me are the toxics garbage and human wastes , floating on the flood….

        2. @Sacre-Bleu:

          I got it…but, you cannot understand my comment…floating garbages and human wastes thrown by people during the flood; endangers the health of everybody, more than the flood. Toilets are flooded; they don’t work. Squatters have no toilets; so they defacate on the river banks…or on the river, itself…is this not the truth?

  10. Metro Manila is one big slums, both in infrastracture and culture, with patches of modernity propelled by greediness. End result, great flooding.

    Key in solving flooding is sustainable urban planning. Enforce no build zone along river banks and tributaries. Apply science and common sense in building the citywide anti-flood projects. Water is powerful, make used of it, say a hydroelectric plant courtesy of flood. Put lungs into the metropolis, mini-forest like. And lastly, Metro Manilans must increased their I.Q.s. Be urbanized. Stop being lazy. Put things in proper places. Remember, Metro Manila is not a zoo or dumpsite, it is the prime region.

  11. If ever there’s planning the Philippine government politicians, officials and even some employees shall be doing would surely be on how to divert most of whatever resources to be allocated in any disaster diverted into their own pockets.

    Every disaster in the Philippines would mean a great rejoicing for those in the government.

    Inherent Filipino nature would find it very tedious to tune their mindset to give priority to the welfare of the country first, before self.

    Most Filipinos are by nature purely self centered. Evidently making the Philippines the first “selfie” capital of the world.

  12. President Aquino, in his speech (by his speechwriter) for the Filipino community in Berlin (while the country is submerged in flood): “Ngayong kaharap ko po kayo, sinasabi ko sa inyo: Boss, sasagarin ko ang bawat sandali at panahon para ipaglaban ang Pilipino. Tuloy ang ating laban kontra-katiwalian at kahirapan; tuloy ang ating laban para iangat ang Pilipino, at isulong ang kaunlaran ng bayan.”

    Save yourself, Pilipino sa Pinas.

    1. Aquino is out of touch with Reality on the situation in the Philippines. And, out of this World in his mind. He does not know what he is talking about. He is there junketing in Berlin, Germany; while his people are being carried away and drowned in raging floods.

      He is talking about corruption; of which , he is the Godfather of corruption in the Philippines. This Flood needs to be addressed to, Mr. Aquino…

      What kind of irresponsible leader is this mentally retarded idiot..

      1. The man is sick he desperately needs a cure. That kind of cure is in the hands of the Filipinos and leaders who are not yet infected by his disease. Time and time again, the government has been warned that too much pork is bad for health. Now fatness covered their brains and hearts even simple logic can’t be comprehended by them. What kind of President doesn’t know about the calamity that will strike his nation? What kind of President will laugh it off and prides him self on topics of progress in the presence of the lack of vision and planning? The man is sick he so badly needs a cure.

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