(Beautiful Inside Out: a column by Lyn V. Ramo)
There was no typhoon but the rains were heavy and for several days and nights the continuous downpour drenched the city of man and many other outlying provinces in Luzon.
On August 1, a storm surge on Manila Bay flooded many buildings along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City and Manila, including the US Embassy. As seen on TV, the poor of Manila feasted on garbage that the sea brought back to land. They were gathering sackfulls of plastics that they sold for P25 to recycling plants and junk shops.
Hotels along the beachfront that is Roxas Boulevard also had a taste of nature's wrath when the debris from the storm surge entered their premises.
It was to be a warning: a portent of things to come. It reminds everyone of the 2009 twin-disaster that was Ondoy-and-Pepeng. Ondoy brought torrential rains that flooded Metro Manila; Pepeng lingered and it devastated a wider area including Baguio City and Benguet.
The urban population said, "Nature gives us back what we gave to it." Literally, we threw garbage into the sea and the waves threw this back in time.
It is not quite true in the case of the Igorot community folks at Kibungan Village in La Trinidad, who lost kin and property to a massive landslide in the aftermath of typhoon Pepeng.
The Baguio trashslide tragedy last year that also claimed several lives had a totally different context.
The torrential rains that resulted from a southeast monsoon gave large volumes of rainfall that surpassed the volume recorded in the case of the floods resulting from Ondoy. For 24 hours there was no letdown and the city that drenched was underwater for more than two days.
Wednesday morning saw the sun for about 30 minutes and the rest of the day again did not welcome the torrents. Several communities went underwater... knee-deep, waist-deep, one fathom, two, three... every drop of rain seem to be filling the city to the brim.
I slept over the thought that any moment my daughters and I would inflate an airbed and off to the murky sea we would venture into an unknown destination with Jobbs, our kitten. Thanks to nature: the yard we were staying was spared from the floods.
It resulted from the will of God, according to a top Red Cross official. He said the country has been preparing for the consequence of climate change but it appeared that we were never ready to mitigate or adapt to the will of God.
After Ondoy-and-Pepeng, the tendency was for people to raise the floor-level of buildings to more than a meter. The public works and highways department raised the roads to more than one meter that some houses along the raised highways had been adjusted so that the opening was on the road level at the second floor.
These caused the filling to the level of the road in some private residential yards that others who did not have the resources for a landfill have to bear the brunt of floods at the slight rainfall.
Engineering works appeared not at all the answer to flooding woes. Neither did it address landslides or trashslides.
Another suburban mayor puts the blame on the attitude of his constituents. Why do we have floods? Why can we not manage our garbage?
While all these squabbles and blame-game are on the air, ordinary folks in the metropolis went on with their lives, some cleaning the debris out of their little dwellings made from scrap materials. Others were busy building a fire on which the first meal after a two-day torrential rains deprived them of dry firewood from a nearby dump site.
Kids who used to sleep on cold pavement day in and day out found salvaged mattresses a nice place to play house. They also had free baths from the three-day rains. Their dwellings drenched them to the bones, anyway, so they just enjoyed playing in the rain.
In Baguio City, there was no letdown from the rains. The ordinary folks try to gather sayote tops in nearby mountain slope, taking care not to step on loose ground. While most people go on attending to their daily-wage or income-generating endeavors, moist surfaces have harbored a breeding ground for molds.
In the meantime, the bachelor president kept busy with photo operations doing relief operations in some communities devastated by the torrents.
Meanwhile, the question on whether we are ready or not to face the consequences of climate change remains.
One thing is sure: repairing a seawall, building a riprapped stonewall or raising the level of highways can never complete the preparation for sea-level rise, torrential rains, storm surge and global warming.
Some people in high places should break their heads or we better see these heads roll. #