Monthly Archives: August 2012

When Home life Collides!

I just got myself a new househelp who have been staying with us for the last couple of weeks and when I got my water bill this morning, I had a whopping domestic water consumption of 38 cubic meters!!! Whoah!!! Oh my God, that to me is a major nonconformity, for a small house with three occupants.  I average at 12-15 cubic meters per month!

Miss Housekeeper was quite scared when we informed her of the situation…, she had basically failed to close the faucet that leads to a diversion valve that goes into the sewer  system of my fathers house, sometime for more than an entire night…why?  because of a complicated plumbing system that I have devised over time to conserve water and the complication  confused her and just left some valves open running.

Oh God! Oh Lord! What a waste, it even backflowed back our bath room floor drain with small frogs (at least there is biodiversity somewhere in down the storm drain or septic tank…but for some that sound yuck!). Oh God, maybe I had some lapse in my small chats with her, I have focused more on conserving our electricity where I achieved a reduction from 341 Kwh consumption to 263 KWh consumption this billing period. the LED bulbs may have helped.

My small chats with her have focused more on how they manage rice fields where the irrigation system is not as complicated as my home plumbing system which I have scratched and clawed my father to fix for the past fifteen years (he had installed re-diversion pipes that sources water from the pollution intruded deep well system , you just happen to smell the phosphate laced water when you open the system. We could not identify the source since no pipe line diagrams or any reference materials are available) and when Dave came into my life, the re-fixing and pipe re-diversion began complicating the common household help, even the common plumber.

Rice field irrigation, water just flows down the stream, no complicated valves. That is where our househelp comes from, but in a highly urbanized city where I live, water is scarce and the cost is very high! In addition, as mandated by the Clean Water Act, a corresponding environmental cost is charged for sewage treatment cost proportional to volume and an increase in cubic meter consumption also increases the environmental cost. Oh my, I just paid more Environmental User Fee more than the usual! Now I have to pay for it as part of the Polluter Pays Principle! Huhuhuhu!


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August 19, 2012 · 12:53 am

When Manila is not the place to be

I will always be born in Manila, a couple of blocks away from where I currently work. I can always walk by the Philippine General Hospital and imagine how my mother underwent labor and gave birth to me three decades ago.  Maybe back then Manila was cool, its sewage system is still functional and people don’t live on sidewalks. The Philippines was under Martial Rule, doing something like that will get you thrown into jail without any due process.

Nowadays, living on sidewalks is not limited to sleeping, they also cook, bathe and make babies on the sidewalk.  I am amazed at how these people could still multiply in numbers without any roof on their heads. Nowadays, the presence of homeless children, butt-naked and dirty running around is a common sight. It seems that is the norm, to be impoverished and homeless.  I guess that is the statistical mean in a bell shaped normal distribution curve of life in Manila. The average lies on the middle and the average shifts, it has enormously moved since the day I was born.  It could have been better if we can set a Statistical Process Control on how people live their lives ensuring that the average is a life with basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing  and higher needs such as education and work, but it seems the average of life is moving towards  socioeconomic and environmental degradation.

Most of the people I work with even think that what I think is not normal.  With 100 Million Filipinos only a minimal fraction have a job, a home, higher education. Being in that situation seems to be near the p-value of this hypothetical bell curve of living here in Manila. Oh well, maybe life goes on for them even if the flood waters have subsided.  The dark sidewalks are again dry after the storm and these homeless parents can again make love to increase their brood until the next rainy season, that is how life goes.

Most likely, the intensity of typhoons and risk of flooding was not high when I was born. My mother had passed away for a decade and I could not ask her if I was born on a rainy afternoon. I guess she won’t know, we were in the safety of the delivery room at PGH. Things have changed, not just the socioeconomic condition but the climate. I guess when I was born, violent storm surges don’t eat up the US Embassy Compound along Roxas Boulevard. Way back then, Americans don’t believe in Global Warming, they believe in superstructures and building their embassy there seemed like a good idea. Its like a fortress…

After the recent typhoon and surges of the Southwest Monsoon, Manila seemed clean, cool breeze running up your face, but the bay is still ugly and dirty, dark waters in dire need of dredging. There was one point in my career when I had a thing for dredgers, I had researched about it,  its different types, its different hoppers and capacities. It is not true that dredging is all about moving marine sediment from one area to another. Dredging is a complicated Engineering Methodology which requires planning and controlled execution and an intense environmental impact assessment which we had to explain to the DENR and LLDA way back in 2004.  I was so into the subject that I managed to get a free copy of the “100 years of dredging” from the IADC in the Netherlands.Environment Aspects of Dredging.

I don’t know if I could fancy anyone into talking about dredgers and sediment management. My boss I guess from our Marine Division or some girl from Van Oord at the seventh floor, but things like dredging and sediment management are not easy conversation pieces when you are in Manila. People think I’m weird for appreciating something like that

Maybe Manila is just not the place for me, it is good that my work requires me to go around places, meet people, have a taste of their culture and see high places all made possible by dredging thought dumb by most of the people I usually come across with but could not believe the dark waters of Manila Bay and the stinking smell after the storm. Anyway, homeless people could still make love in that stench, even give birth at the Baywalk, I just can’t do that, thankfully my mother gave birth to me in a delivery room in a good hospital.

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Disaster Management, Ecotourism, Greenwash, Pollution Control, Renewable Energy and Biofuels, Sustainability

I think climate change is here

Its funny how people being interviewed on TV saying that they did not expect something like Ondoy would recur in three (3) years time, well it did and there wasn’t even a typhoon to blame just the usual Southwest Monsoon that we experience every year since the last ice age.

In the Philippines, climate change is still not yet a mainstream idea.  When the western world is already willing to pay us for adapting to climate change, people still could not grasp the totality and reality of climate change which what happened a week ago. In October 2009, when I started this blog, the country was bombarded with Climate change propaganda. But that seems to be it, a propaganda that will soon fade, just like the peak and trough propaganda being bombarded by the government.

It is a reality, yet we could not connect the dots and could not understand the phenomenon. For the past five (5) years I have been wanting to become a GHG auditor/climate change verifier but with things happening around me, it makes me think if what I am doing does make sense.  Literature has constantly reminded me that a country like the Philippines doesn’t need GHG mitigation efforts but rather climate change adaptation efforts.  If we are going to invest in wind turbines that will just be toppled down by the annual monsoon, why is the western world willing to pay us for something that is obviously  a risky investment?

Is it for the sake of brotherhood and the good of mankind? My economic training says otherwise. What am I supposed to do? Adapt or die? The recent disaster enlightened us that that there are many ways that people can die due to climate change, majority died of drowning after gushing flood waters topple everything in its path. People got hit by lightning and a number got electrocuted when live electric wires made contact with flood water.  Others died of a heart attack when they just got overwhelmed of such a disaster happening in front of them. Gradually, fatalities can also be caused by diseases such as leptospirosis, dengue hemorrhagic fever or even the flu or the common cold.

In 2009, grants, aids, loans, etc. and other financial pledges had awashed the Philippines to adapt to climate change, after three years, the results were, you know mediocre like any investment made in this country.


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Filed under Climate Change, Disaster Management, GHG Mitigation Effort, Greenwash

Living, Learning and Adapting

Living, Learning and Adapting

Recto Underpass as posted in the Manila Standard Today


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August 9, 2012 · 9:09 am

Mt. Apo, Davao City and My Frustration About Land Use

My body has started to hate flying, especially during landing. This is after I was diagnosed with otitis media which swells up my sinuses, ear drum  and other mucus membranes in my respiratory tract during the sudden increase in air pressure.   It is weird because, I also feel the same as I ride a vehicle coming down a mountain.

After acquiring my Olympus E-PL 2, I have started to do some minor photography and this aerial shot of Mount Apo in Mindanao was one of those leisurely shots prior to landing to get my mind off my swollen ears.  The pilot made a good angle, but obviously, being on the foothills of a mountain, in this case a dormant volcano poses quite a risk.

We really could not impose structured land use and settlement planning given the rate of population growth and the greater autonomy of local governments. We can live our lives quietly and wait for disaster to happen just like what is happening now outside our gates.

Land use is supposed to be planned. I know based on the books I have read and my academic training, but there are other issues such as social justice and equitable distribution of resources.  It seems everyone has a right to own land, regardless whether that land is a volcano or other geological hazards that can threaten our safety.

I do not want to go into the reproductive health debate but where will we get land for the burgeoning population? Land is scarce and that has been proven by David Ricardo centuries ago, the entire world is mapped, there are no new frontiers to be discovered, what we need is conservation and I believe being conservative a virtuous principle, including transparency, accuracy, relevance, consistency and consistency.


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August 7, 2012 · 11:04 am

Problems We Have to Face

‘Lolong belongs to us’
By Ben Serrano The Philippine Star Updated August 02, 2012 12:00 AM 

Teopanes Adlawan, chairman of Barangay Nueva Era in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, points to the P100,000 comfort room built from gate proceeds at the Bunawan Eco-Park which houses Lolong. Ben Serrano

BUNAWAN, Agusan del Sur, Philippines – The chairman of Barangay Nueva Era here insisted yesterday that “Lolong,” the world’s largest crocodile in captivity, belongs to the people of Agusan del Sur.

Barangay captain Teopanes Adlawan, who led his constituents in helping crocodile experts capture the 20.3-foot saltwater crocodile, vowed to oppose any move to transfer Lolong from a one-hectare pen in Agusan del Sur to the 22.7-hectare Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.

“We will surely oppose any plan to transfer Lolong. The crocodile belongs to Agusan del Sur, not Metro Manila,” Adlawan told The STAR.

Reports earlier said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was studying to move Lolong to the Quezon City park.

Bunawan Mayor Edwin Elorde said that if not for the help of the residents of Barangay Nueva Era, Lolong would not have been captured.

“As far as we are concerned, the plan to transfer Lolong to Manila is a dead issue to us,” Elorde said.

Elorde and Adlawan said although they know that the DENR has the best intention for Lolong, it is doing well under their care.

The municipal government has built a P100,000 comfort room from gate proceeds at the Bunawan Eco-Park.

Adlawan also strongly rejected the proposal of animal rights groups to free Lolong back to the wild.

“It is a dangerous proposal, they are endangering not only our livestock but also people’s lives” he added.

He said Lolong was captured in Agusan Marsh in September last year after residents believed that the reptile was responsible for a young girl’s death and the disappearance of a fisherman in Bunawan village.

Meanwhile, Elorde said the lives of the residents are again in danger following sightings of a nuisance crocodile in the area.

“There is another one (crocodile) out there that we are looking for. I fear for the safety of the residents,” said Elorde during his visit to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) office in Quezon City recently.

He added that Lolong’s companion was lingering in Barangay Nueva Era.

Agusan villagers believe that Lolong has a bigger companion in Agusan Marsh and probably a female crocodile.

Adlawan asked the PAWB to allow them to start searching for the nuisance crocodile in their village.

Mundita Lim, director of PAWB, said an independent study would be conducted to verify the report. – With Rhodina Villanueva


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