The Filipino Deserves Something Better Than Enduring Perennial Flooding

"The Filipino spirit is waterproof."

We have read this statement several times, especially during times of heavy rains, and, worse, flooding. More often than not, mainstream media outlets accompany it with photos of our countrymen still smiling while wading through flood waters. Through seemingly romanticized news reports, the Filipino is being presented as an enduring person who can still see something good on things despite the misery surrounding him.

Make no mistake about it. We are a strong, enduring and sacrificing people. We know how to adjust to the situation that we get ourselves in. We tend to make the most of whatever we have and still smile despite the difficulty.

However, it seems like the statement "The Filipino spirit is waterproof" is being given a different meaning- an unpleasant one, to be more precise. Some are slowly realizing that their ability to gather strength, endure and sacrifice is being taken advantage of by those who should not have placed them in such a predicament in the first place. I am referring to politicians and government officials who are tasked to design and implement flood control projects, and private citizens who show no regard on the welfare of others by not properly disposing their garbage or obstructing the free flow of water in key waterways or drainage systems.
Metro Manila and other areas in the country have been dealing with major flooding for quite some time now. Some would argue that their geography, in particular those located in flood plains and former marshes, make them flood-prone, thus flooding being inevitable. Although partly true, I do not necessarily buy it completely since other places in the world that are located in an almost similar geography such as the Netherlands, a country located with most of its land area being below sea level that invested time and money to build massive and innovative flood control systems, and Tokyo, Japan, which has the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel, a large underground flood water diversion facility that was built to mitigate overflowing of the city's major waterways and rivers during rain and typhoon seasons, found ways to control floods. If the Dutch and the Japanese were able to find ways to control flooding, why can't we do the same?

The worse abuse of the Filipino's strength, endurance and sacrifice during rough and tough times does not come from the government. It comes from fellow Filipinos who have no regard of their well-being of others. Improper garbage disposal, and the building of obstructions on waterways and drainage systems, among others, are some of the leading causes of floods. While the local government units are supposed to implement ordinances and the Building Code, private citizens are expected to do their part by following the law, and having a sense of regard about the welfare of their neighbors and community, two things that are, unfortunately, not being done by quite a number of Filipinos. When their homes and communities get flooded, all they do is to blame the government for the misery that they actually put themselves on.

The cycle of romanticizing and abusing the Filipino's ability to gather strength, endure and sacrifice during floods must stop. The Filipino deserves something far better than smiling before the cameras while wading through murky flood waters that can injure him, make him sick or kill him. It is time for the government to pursue massive flood control projects similar to those in the Netherlands and Japan to once and for all address the perennial flooding problem, clear waterways and drainage systems from all forms of obstruction, implement laws and ordinances on the building of structures and proper garbage disposal, and go after and penalize individuals and entities violating the said laws and ordinances. It is time for Filipinos to have sense of regard about the welfare of others, their communities and the Philippines, in general, or, at the very least, think about themselves and their loved ones because their improper garbage disposal, and blocking of waterways and drainage systems, among others, cause the floods that damage their properties and communities, and can cause further misery to them and their loved ones.

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About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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