MANILA - THE FIRST TWO WEEKS PART II
It has been raining non-stop since I arrived.
There was a Typhoon that came and went and then torrential rain ever since. There were major floods causing havoc through-out Manila. I still had some clothes and the like at the hotel and since I now had a bed at my new place I was crashing there, and thought it would be a good idea to get my remaining things and check out. Trying to be adventurous, I caught the train. This was unknown to me at the time, but it was also the first day of some major flooding. I alighted from the train after six stops and was confronted by the floods first hand. People wading through water waist deep. I had about a ten minute walk back to the hotel, and all the streets the map on my iPhone said to take were underwater. I took a few detours to avoid the worst streets. My only regret was not taking more photos. I have to overcome my fear of sticking out I guess as well as a fear that someone might take a liking to my iPhone and rob me, especially in Malate, which as stated before, was rather dodgy.
Water drainage is an issue in Manila
After collecting my things I now have a back pack, laptop bag and my luggage on wheels. There is no way I can catch the train with all that and the plan always was to catch a cab back to my apartment. The street of the hotel, which was just a few days ago jam packed are now desolate. As the floods had started to take a grip on the city it was nearly impossible to get a cab. The hotel driver offered to take me but at five times the normal price of a cab. I hail a few, only to be denied a lift as they say the roads are impassable.
I must be a sight standing in the torrential rain with a little fold out umbrella trying to flag down a cab. The four Koreans next to me, also trying the same thing, soon give up and go across the road for a massage. ‘Not a bad idea’ I think to myself. I finally find a taxi driver who is willing to take me. It’s triple the price of normal and he wants to charge me 400 Pesos. Since it is only about $9 Australian, I think it’s a bargain, at the time and jump in.
The taxi driver takes the long way to avoid the flooded streets. Since we have worked out a price, for once, I do not think it’s a scam. Both of us can hardly see anything, and the wiper blades don’t seem to be doing anything. I think it must be a combination of blunt blades and the force of the rain. Don’t for a minute think that this handicap slowed him down. He hit many flooded parts of the road, at what must have been 70 km an hour. That might not sound too fast, but when the road has 20 centimetres of water on it in some places it can make for a scary trip, especially when visibility is close to zero. I make it home in one piece, just happy not to be stranded anymore.
The gravity of the situation in the city takes hold as peoples tweets start to come through. The MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority, basically the roads authority) and other government bodies do a great job communicating through the floods. Not only the official channels, but concerned citizens also help tremendously and there is even a special hash tag set up ‘#rescuePH’ for people that need help. The strength of social media really shone that day as everyone banded together to share information and come to each others’ aid. The community were using Twitter as a means to communicate first hand who needed help, what roads were impassible and giving advice when there was no other way to get help.
The Filipino people are a strong bunch and most take the flood in good humour.
Photo source unknown from Twitter
The rain continues, however the flooding starts to subside after a few days, and luckily the area I am in is not too affected. Basically we are on top of a hill next to the Pasig River, the water rolls off into the river. I have not experienced rain like this before. I have heard about the rainy season in Philippines before, but assumed it just meant it rained more, not constantly, and with such force.
A short video I shot of the storms
Drainage in Manila seems to be a problem and it would be a large job to change the infrastructure, and with rainy seasons like we are having it is no wonder there are floods, the water just has no where to go. For many days, the city is at a standstill. Businesses and schools are closed as people, literally, could not get where they needed to go. Thoughts go out to the loved ones of those that lost their lives during this disaster.
Photo obtained from Twitter – Paulo Santos