Residents in flooded areas in Bulacan appeal for help

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Bulacan (CNN Philippines, August 27) — Portions of Bulacan are still underwater due to heavy rains over weekend that affected almost 30,000 families in Central Luzon.

Even when the sun came out, floodwaters still remain. It has been long enough for fish to swim in the flooded areas, and for boats to become the new mode of transportation.

Barangay Captain Tirso Cruz of  Meysulao, Calumpit, Bulacan said, "Ito pong Sitio Nabong, more than one year na nakalubog sa tubig. Lalo pa siyang umaangat during rainy days. Tag-ulan. Then, padagdag ng padagdag ang tubig, tapos walang nilalabasan, walang outlet."

[Translation: Sitio Nabong has been underwater for over a year. And water rises even more during rainy days, rainy season. The water keeps rising and it doesn't go anywhere. There's no outlet.]

Josie Quirona's family has been staying in an evacuation center, along with more than 70 others for almost two months. Although they are already used to this setup, she cannot help but be emotional while sharing about their daily struggles.

She said, "'Pag dumadating ang ganitong kalamidad, napakahirap po talaga, nakakaiyak. Nakakaiyak ho talaga ang buhay. Yung iba, nagsasalita na sa evacuation may rasyon. Minsan nasasabi namin na kung gusto nila, sila dito kami sa taas. Mahirap po talaga."

[Translation: When calamities like these happen, it's very difficult, pitiful. Our lives become pitiful. Others say there are rations distributed in evacuation centers. Sometimes we tell them, if they want they can stay here and we'll go upland. It's very difficult.]

Calumpit, Bulacan is among the catch basins in Central Luzon. The combination of high tide in Manila Bay and water flowing from higher ground through the Pampanga River are causing the perennial flooding problem in the area.

"Hindi na rin nila maisip na lumipat ng ibang lugar dahil ang kanilang source ng ikinabubuhay nandito, hindi nila maiwan. So ang adjustment, adaptation sa environment, mag-aadapt ka, ganito kayo mabubuhay. Kaya lang ang risk factor ay napakalaki," Cruz said.

[Translation: They can't even consider leaving for another place because their source of income is here and they can't leave it behind. The adjustment and adaptation to the environment, you really have to adapt, this is how your life will be. But the risk factor is very high.]

Residents of some barangays in Calumpit, Bulacan have been enduring knee- to chest-deep floods for months now, affecting their lives, especially children who can no longer go to school.

Classes in public schools in Barangay San Miguel have been disrupted since July. Some children are devoting their time to finding out how to earn a living.

Jojo Ricato, a grade six student, has been helping people by ferrying them with his boat.

"Pag malaki po ang tubig, namamangka lang po," he said.

[Translation:When the water is high, I ride my boat.]

But he said he misses going to school

Ricato's mother said she feels bad because her child is losing the opportunity to learn.

"Ang laki ng tubig sa eskwelahan... Nakaka-ano nga pong umano't wala ng natutunan ang mga bata. Simula July hanggang August, wala silang pasok," she said.

[Translation: The water is so high in the school... It's sad because the children aren't learning anything. From July to August, they haven't been back in school.]

From being submerged in floodwater, Ricato has also developed athlete's foot, like most people in the area.

Residents said local health clinics are providing medicine to cure skin diseases and prevent other health conditions such as leptospirosis.

But while affected residents have become resilient by circumstance, they are calling on the government to take concrete actions to mitigate the decades-long flooding problem in the area.

"Dapat palalimin ang ilog. Ilog talaga. Dredging. Talagang babaw na po ang ilog. Kailangang ang ilog na ang buhayin dahil yung takbo ng tubig, hindi na kaya ng capacity. Yung volume ng tubig na nanggagaling sa Candaba Swamp," Cruz said.

[Translation: The river should be made deeper. It should be dredged. The river should be rehabilitated because then water would flow again, it is above capacity now. The water is coming from the Candaba Swamp.]

After all, residents said they have suffered more than enough.