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).

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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.

29 Replies to “Aerial photo of monstrous urban blight in Manila shocks Filipinos!”

  1. 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.

  2. 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 encouraging a continuous flow of vehicular traffic applied in CURVE or LIQUID GRID system. This is why I think European planners are far better than Americans planners.

    But infairness to Arch. Daniel Burnham, his vision may not have been fully implemented, understood and violated the Master Plan he made example 30%-40% Open Space, Utility and service area for Trees, Parks, Recreation, and catchment ponds, drainage sytems. Also, Rectangular Street Grid is ineffective without Mass transport system to support it.

    Except for the LRT, FMarcos did not improve our train system because his allies & politicians (Farinas, Singson, own the bus franchise. Maybe same reason why our government still cannot or won’t invest more on trains MRT or mass transport system, instead of more road/flyover/expressway.

    Road projects will just benefits the Arabs & oil producers due to our dependency on fossil fuel. More train will reduce vehicles, pollution, accidents and promote safer & better (convenient/cleaner) future for all.

    And majority of our cities are now covered with concrete – Impervious or Waterproof surfaces. These are mainly pavements, roads, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots that are covered by impenetrable materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick, stone, and rooftops. Soils compacted by urban development are also highly impervious. Thus, it seal the soil surface, eliminating rainwater infiltration and natural groundwater recharge.

    1. agreed. a technical explanation. this is the cause of imperial manila. I can’t believe this photo. NCR is dead. 🙁

  3. As is Google Maps ain’t enough.

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

  4. 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…

    1. Since 1948 Filipino leaders have peddled their islands protection to the USA, so they could have free reign in matter domestic….that is ,robbing the people blind.Now after a single human life-time of this behavior and the third generation of these cretin dynastically entitled micreants is about to take the reigns of gov’t. from their parents,guess what? it is not going to stop, it going to get worse in fact.
      The country is a failed state. a disaster waiting to happen….get out now……and never go back, until a citizen of another country……and by then ,why would you want to go back? So your family could hate you for leaving them there? NAH,stay away,make a new family!

      1. The hilarious part is that the government has long kicked out the American forces back in the 90s. And with the Jeffrey Laude incident recently along with the brainless masses demanding “justice” to the so-called “imperialist” American forces… America is not covering the Philippines like it used to.

        So when China comes in… we’ll see what happens to the Philippines then.

        1. Kicking the Americans out? and then re-inviting them back in every time there is a disaster? you really believe that? the USA sneezes,P-Noy or ‘BS’ or whatever idiotic nickname he goes by, gets a tissue for them.the USA gets a cold, the Philippoines will catch pneumonia. Where are the interest artes in the country at now? 0.25%, Military is only one aspect of Imperialism, but its not even that…its called ‘Crony-Capitalism’ Filipino style. EXHIBIT: Citibank (of the philippines),Prudential Securities(of the Philippines) etc etc….

          The Americans never left, it just looks that way.You see, what they show you.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. That’s actually what one of the Beatles said after their stay here.

      But I do agree. It seems that the only solution now is destroy everything and restart.

  7. 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.

      1. I understand. But I am the owner of that photo. And you are using it. So you need my approval. I ask that you cite the original source, which is my FB page (the same way Coconuts did.) Or else I will have to ask you to take down the photo.

        Let’s be proper and respect intellectual property. Thanks a lot.


        1. Daphne when you post something on FB or for that matter any social media it now becomes PUBLIC DOMAIN, read the FB rules. Stop being a stickler over something they already did. Maybe you should show more concern for the people in this country that can’t follow basic rules of law, road rules etc.

    1. thanks for sharing this photo of yours. I could buy half of that city and turn it into a forest. buy the residents off and have them migrate to other cities or get a condo unit. lol.

  8. 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?

    1. They only think about today and not the future. To many filipinos are living in a dream world and look for constant escape from there problems instead of facing them. The same thing will happen again this upcoming election, because look at who is running….it’s the same dynasties promoting the same candidates that have robbed and stolen from this country. Nothing will change until filipinos get serious about bringing these crooks to justice and locking them up after a FAIR trial. I have been here 5 years and have yet to see ONE trial of any significant importance come to completion. The Amputans are still linger in Jail, as is GMA, as was Enrile, Reville and Estrada. Napoles and her cronies involved in the pork barrel scam will never truly be found guilty.

  9. 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” (where Phil-Am Homes, etc. is), but WW2 happened and the plan was partially completed. A 1949 plan and an updated QC Plan (1955) were plans that proposed to control urban growth. One of the ways include expropriating lands in flood-prone Marikina and keeping them as agricultural lands. Unfortunately due to scarce finances after the war, the gov. decided to turn over urban planning to the private sector. This led gov. lands being sold (such as the West Triangle in QC, now Phil-Am Homes), among others. In 1977, Mmetroplan was created which had some nearly same proposals from the 1949 and 1955 QC Plans, but it was never implemented.

    Along the same lines, as early as 1930s and as late as 1981, zoning plans had been created but were never implemented.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 couple of years to earn and save enough then retire young in the countryside.

    We should all understand that Metro Manila is getting worse by the day and because of the survive-by-all-means-necessary mentality of most of those who are in the metropolis, I would rethink about settling here with a family.

    We usually hear cries of expanding the city or create business in the other places to decongest Metro Manila but it seems nobody is really making a move to do so.

    Well, that is my part.

  12. 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?

    1. Not just the government, @Fernando. but every Filipino who’d walked this earth lacks the “will to do what is right and called for [their country] for fear of losing” ‘something.’ We Filipinos are strickened by the paranoia of not trusting our fellow Filipinos on their “modis operandi.” This is why every Filipino has this “every man for himself” attitude of who they are as people, and the only thing that ties us to each other is the Philippines and our Filipino lineage; everything else is in a state of disaparity and disarray.

  13. 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!

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