Exodus to Promised Land-A A +A
By Ram Mercado
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
SINCE historical time Angeles (City) remains to be the Promised Land of Pampangos in distress.
For instance, a people’s exodus of less than biblical proportion had swelled the city populace circa ’95.
The post Pinatubo years brought a record number of migrants to the highly-populated city.
Thousands of evacuees from lahar-affected communities flocked to Angeles City for socio-geographical reasons. The city is situated on higher grounds, and, therefore deemed relatively safe from recurring floods, lahar attack, and eruption aftermath.
Hundreds of dwellings -- rented apartment houses and bungalows -- were abandoned by fleeing US military dependents. The hottest items of commerce, the houses sold like proverbial hot cakes. Transient families who sought temporary refuge in Angeles as well as long-term evacuees purchased the vacated units in single cash transaction. The local real estate industry made a killing from migrant home buyers who were awash in cash.
Most migrant families had returned to their hometowns but did not give up their Angeles dwellings. Others sold their units at five times the purchase price and invested anew in real estate.
This explains the socio-cultural diversity of the present populace. Well-to-do families from San Fernando, Bacolor, Sto. Tomas, Minalin, Mexico, Porac and outlying communities comprise the influx of migrants in the local populace. These contributed to the economic growth of the city. Aside from their sense of peace and security by living in higher terrain that is safe from heavy floods, the migrant families found life was more pleasant and convenient in Angeles.
They shopped in modern malls, patronized public markets, attend religious and worship services in churches, got medical services in first class hospitals, while dining in posh hotels and restaurants. The men got attracted to the glittering night life with its fun and recreation. A variety of performers and entertainers provide La Dolce Vita.
Today the new families of Pinatubo migrants continue to add to the city’s growing population. An alarm has been sounded last week by the World Wide Fund for Nature and its CSR arm, Bank of the Philippine Islands, warning local officials that Angeles will be the preferred site of nomads and migrants who will seek refuge from the worsening climate change in the next decade or so.
The WWF Philippines said the expected exodus will be climate-driven. A foretaste of the mass movement was the social problem of displaced residents in flood stricken and landslide-prone communities in recent years.
The worsening and unsolved flooding problems of the province’s coastal areas, the frequent inundation of certain towns in the hinterland, the threat posed by river overflow on the levees of Arayat and the weakening river dike along the Pampanga River including Candaba area will trigger mass migration to high places.
Being some 170 feet above sea level, with its highly developed socio-economic institutions, Angeles City is the natural magnet for people seeking safer refuge in extreme climate conditions.
The prosperous capital city (CSF) is most vulnerable and is not spared from the worsening climate change. It has been suffering from collateral damage by flood waters with its cheek-and-jowl propinquity to the Minalin-Sto. Tomas- Bacolor catch basin towns.
The unusual extreme weather world-wide is now the new normal and the WWF predicted that a mass movement of people from Pampanga’s low lying areas, which are sinking every year, will in due time migrate to Angeles – the blessed city – for survival.
“Is Angeles City prepared for that scenario?” WWF officials asked during a Clark conference where they discussed business risk assessment and the management of climate change impact. Can its social services and public facilities accommodate the sudden arrival of say, 200,000 evacuees from disaster areas in the prophesied scenario?
Lest we forget the WWF corporate arm for social responsibility is the Bank of PI owned by the Ayalas. The family also owns the Marquee Mall and Marquee Residences. These are their billion-peso-investment stake in Angeles.
The Ayalas must be truly and genuinely concerned on how the city government, now and in the next decade, will come up with a master plan in preparation for the eventuality of extreme climate change.
Well, if the Ayalas want a warranty of continued protection and success of their investments in Angeles, they only have to continue supporting the administration of City Mayor Pamintuan. He, among the present crop of Pampanga leaders, has the profounder insight, sounder policies, and a far reaching vision to make Angeles a “city on the hill.” With EdPam as their annointed leader, residents are of the belief that Angeles will remain blessed and untroubled in any contingency, including a mass exodus of refugees. He has proven his mettle in the Eruption of ’91.
Quality of life doesn’t mean
Having wealth, power or superb intelligence.
It’s a matter of how much kindness and love
You give to others,
and the joy you get out of it.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 18, 2013.