SUMMER has come and gone but six coastal villages in Masantol town never saw dry land for nearly two years as floods became stagnant in their communities.
The six villages namely Alauli, Balibago, Sagrada, Bagang, Nigui, and Sapang Kawayan are all located at the left bank portion of Pampanga River in this town.
According to Councilor Marcelo “Bajun” Lacap, Jr., also a resident of Barangay Sagrada here, flooding has become a year-round phenomenon in their area ever since the spur dike collapsed in early 2018.
“Floods have become part of our daily lives because it is always there, never subsiding. Inside our houses, there is flood. You go to school, still flooded, you go to church, still flooded. The only time our feet get dry is when we go to the town plaza,” he said.
Lacap said that the spur dike, known to locals as Victory Dike, was first rehabilitated in early 2017 from the P350,000-fund raised by the community after it was damaged by the onslaught of strong typhoons.
The infrastructure, however, quickly sustained breaches anew just a few months after its reconstruction due to strong unrestrained water surges from the Pampanga Bay, the councilor recalled.
“The community thought that rehabilitating the dike would be a lost cause since it will only be damaged again and again by heavy flooding caused by strong typhoons and augmented by the regular release of water from dams which flows directly to Masantol, being the catch basin of water from upstream part of the region,” he said.
Without the spur dike, Lacap said the six villages are more prone to flooding as even high tide level can easily infiltrate and swamp the community.
“It’s been hard and at the same time amusing seeing children wade in floods just to go to school. We were even wondering how are we able to survive everyday because our livelihood are also affected. Most of the residents here are either operators of or workers at the fish pens which are hardly operational because of flooding,” he said.
A ray of hope
The residents saw a ray of hope this year after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration reported that the level of water in the dams remain low even after the rainy season.
The news may sound bad for many, but Lacap said that it sparked a ray of hope for them as it means that probability of flooding in the next rainy season is also low.
The councilor said residents are taking the chance anew to reconstruct the spur dike, and hopefully save their communities from the devastating effects of flooding.
“Without the additional down flow of water from dams, we thought that whatever we can repair from the Victory Dike can withstand the water surges that may be brought by typhoons alone,” he said.
Lacap said that Fourth District Representative Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc has already downloaded P6-million for the sheet piling of the 60-meter portion of the dike.
However, the 840-meter portion of the heavily-deteriorated dike will still remain unprotected due to lack of funds, he furthered.
“Congressman [Bondoc] committed to source at least another P10-million but it will take time. So the residents have united to raise funds to be able to come up with even a short-term solution to the problem while waiting for the said budget,” Lacap said.
He disclosed that volunteers are now going house-to-house around the six barangays to ask for monetary help to strengthen and provide a temporary protection for the infrastructure such as soil filling and sandbagging.
He added that the local government is also allocating funds for the project, while residents are also seeking the help of non-government organizations and kind-hearted individuals.
“Instead of regularly asking for relief assistance, we thought it would be better to seek their help in this more worthwhile project that may once again free our communities from floods and give a more decent life to the people,” Lacap said.