October 3, 2009. This is the NOAA satellite image of Typhoon Pepeng (Parma) as I type in Tigbauan, Iloilo,waiting to see how Parma will affect us. For now the skies are dark and threatening, the wind rising and it’s raining. We live on the seashore in Tigbauan, behind a seawall, but perhaps only two meters above sea level. We were hardly affected by typhoon Ondoy-Ketsana which devastated Manila. Ketsana was a big storm here, but only an inconvenience, long blackout etc. The beach was littered with trees, stumps, all sorts of debris washed down from Panay’s deforested mountains and I’m sure thousands of tons of soil, making the sea dirty. After seeing what Parma did to Manila, we have packed important documents and emergency gear and are ready to load them and ourselves into our van at the first sign of water rising around our building. Then we’ll head for higher ground.
UPDATE Oct 3, 2009, 4:45 PM. Some light showers earlier, but now the sun is out!
UPDATE Oct 4, 2009 8:00AM. A little rain last night but this morning is calm and mostly sunny so we (and thankfully Manila) have escaped major problems from Pepeng/Parma.
I feel so badly for the people of Manila, especially the poor who are forced into living in the lowest, most dangerous places. It’s trite and politically incorrect to say this, but I’m also repeatedly amazed that, despite the horrible circumstances and prospects, Filipinos are such decent people, always able to find something to be happy about.
With Ondoy, even fancier neighborhoods and middle class people were affected. The devastated Manila suburb Marikina was really trying to upgrade itself. It even had a system of bike lanes, unheard of in the Philippines. It appears to be a total ruin now.
There seems to be a frightening pattern of places that had never been flooded, flooding now. That happened when Typhoon Frank (Fengshen) hit Iloilo in 2008. We were in Iloilo City at the time. Posh subdivisions thought to be flood-proof were hit. The rich move out and leave the place to those who can’t afford to move. Now the same thing happened in Manila. I’m afraid that this may be a permanent and ever-worsening affect of climate change which may make large parts of the Philippines uninhabitable. Low-lying river front cities such as Manila and Iloilo (and many others) may be especially hard hit. Perhaps hilly cities such as Cebu City will become even more attractive.