A COUPLE of days ago, Governor Lilia “Nanay” Pineda ordered the closure of the west lateral road part of the megadike.
The megadike, a slope protection constructed from Porac town to some barangays of Minalin, is a concrete symbol of saved lives and properties. It can be recalled that after the eruption of Mt.Pintubo, lahar flows with galloping horses’ sound became our avid visitor every rainy season then.
The structure was constructed during Fidel Ramos stint as the President of the Republic, giving the coined “FVR Megadike”. It estranged the once smooth political relationship of then Pampanga Governor Lito Lapid with another past president when the former jumped into FVR’s Lakas NUCD-CMD. A snubbed kissing of the hand ensued. It was said that the action-star turned governor and now Senator switched his support to FVR so that he can beg to the latter some funding for the construction of the humongous lahar and flood control.
Pampanga was saved indeed. If on the elevated side of the Megadike, one can see the whole built-up area of the city of San Fernando and some neighboring towns at afar. One can imagine too the devastation Pampanga could have suffered without the protection from the rampaging lahar.
The Megadike is a mega structure. It was primarily built to protect neighboring towns including the capital town then and now City of San Fernando. Ten years after the Pinatubo eruption, floodwaters and lahar continuously swept some lives, properties, livestock and crops. It has served its purpose.
A few years after the Megadike was constructed, its top pavement was overlaid with asphalt, making it an expressway of sort. Passing through the Megadike highway is far more convenient than cruising the Olongapo-Gapan road.
While the speed limit was set at 60 kmh, the smooth ride the Megadike brings makes one rev-up and get some speed.
Not too long, the heavy and mighty dump trucks hauling sand from Porac and in between the erected dikes made shortcuts through the mega structure. Soon, the asphalt pavement suffered some minor potholes and minute cracks.
Overhead barriers were installed, to deter overweight trucks from passing. Some were deliberately removed, perhaps perpetrated by those who else, the affected motorists.
A number of dead were likewise thrown into the lower portion of the Megadike. Mostly were perhaps salvaged (summarily executed). It’s a perfect site to throw cadavers into the grassy portion of the Megadike under the cloak of darkness of the night. No witnesses, no fuss, no hassles for the dead body throwers.
Aside from cold bodies, the Megadike is also a favorite spot for throwing garbage. The great columnist Bong Lacson had on his camera lenses the sight of plastics and other solid wastes. Who would witness anyway.
Garbage into the structure is a sad sight. Aside from its stink, heaps of garbage is an eyesore. It pollutes the air, the land and the water below the dike.
One dark night while I was passing the Megadike, I came to a chance to pass by car, with less tint on its windows. I saw apparent shadows of a man and a long-haired woman, as if their heads conjoined. Little did I realize later that the dike stretch is also a favorite dating place. Again, with the darkness covering the site, couples can enjoy privacy for some intimate activities.
The mega structure has also been a witness to a couple of hijacking incidents. Nighttime (darkness) is an aggravating circumstance in a crime. The dark surroundings in the area is an advantage. Hoodlums prefer to wait for their prey there and do their trade as hijackers to mostly delivery trucks.
I am featuring all these not to show what is bad about it. In fact, I consider the Megadike as a savior during the lahar days. Its purpose was served, diverting lahar and mudflows away from residences and establishments.
One good thing about it, is the fact that it is serving as an alternate route from the Bacolor portion of the province to northern Pampanga (Porac, Angeles City including Clark). It a good link that motorists can evade traffic on the Mac Arthur. With all the lacking, the province can develop the Megadike highway into a “super” highway. It shall provide convenience and ease to motorists, cutting travel time to more than a half as it shortens the distance between the two flourishing cities of San Fernando and Angeles.
Some lateral portions of the Megadike are likewise good prospects for development as they will link the towns of Masantol, Macabebe and Minalin to the other parts of the province.
It’s good that Gov. Nanay gave marching orders to close some portions of the dike for rehabilitation and repair. We might only hope that these roads atop these dikes will be developed someday as they will be instant “shortcut” highways for some towns of Pampanga to the rest of the province. If developed, these can even be at par with the premier expressways in the country.
I hope the Megadike can get the attention it needs.