Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Manila, Drowned Like a Rat

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Last week, Metro Manila suffered from one of the worst monsoon seasons the Philippines had ever had to endure. Things got so bad that I think a report said that almost 90% of the metro was submerged underwater.

I was one of those folks trapped in the second floor of their houses. Well, it wasn’t my house, really, but I was trapped. We had the basic implements of medieval life, if medieval life included a singular socket for all of your appliances, which was why we were lucky. Other folks weren’t as lucky as we were, and lost more than just their ability to leave their house at will.

Which brings me to my point tonight. The fact is, this is the second time the metro has gone through something this sordid. The first time was Ondoy, which was an eye-opener to a lot of things, namely just how much crap we have in the city, and just how good a tool social media was when push comes to shove. But Ondoy lasted for a day; this time around, it wasn’t even a storm. Manila – Metro Manila – was downed not because a storm was attacking on all fronts, but because the southwest monsoon – something that happens yearly – was enhanced by a passing storm.

Let that sink in for a bit, why don’t you.

Let’s see. If a passing storm can do something like that for a seasonal monsoon, what could, say, twenty storms do? If you check out PAG-ASA, that’s a relatively modest number of the weather disturbances we need to expect to hit the country this year. And we’ve got no less than four more months to wait the year out.

So if you divide those storms equally into each of the four remaining months, we need to expect around five storms per month. And the monsoon wind lasts all the way up to September, if we’re lucky.

I’m no proponent of Green Peace. I hate PETA because of how they parade themselves around like morons (but I love PAWS). And I know that so long as human beings are around, trash will always be a problem, plastic especially. But we have a plastic-eating fungi that merits further studies. And facilities that can turn plastic into fuel.

I find it hard to believe that we can send drones to Mars and to beyond the solar system, and we can’t even pool our resources to develop the kind of technology to make Earth a little bit more friendly.

And there are plenty – and I mean overflowing with a lot – of people who are willing to help out. It’s just that the folks in power aren’t willing to go the extra mile, since it’ll cost them money.

I mean, if your problem is trash, how much would it cost you to set up concrete trash bins along every corner of the city? Officials are complaining that the metal bins get stolen. Well duh. If lampposts and bridge parts get stolen, a metal trash can is easy pickings. Concrete is the way to go. There’s no stealing concrete that’s fused to the ground.

Really, Manila. I don’t want to have to keep tabs on Twitter again just to see if so-and-so person stuck on their roof was rescued. I was impressed by all the “bayanihan” going on throughout the deluge, but the preparation and prevention done by the local and national governments were still just a bit too lacking. We need to improve drainage and structures in the Metro. That’s the bottom line. And if the government can’t help out with that, then the next time something like Gorilla Monsoon happens, we’re sitting ducks.

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