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Clean the Waterways of Metro Manila

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The Earth is a beautiful large, vast, planet that has been around for billions of years. It is our only home. Unfortunately, its climate condition hasn’t been doing so well these past several decades. There are many factors to consider when evaluating the causes of global climate change, one of which is due to the pollution caused by toxic gases and the pollution caused by toxic chemicals, recyclable trash, and other garbage in the streets and waters. This can be seen in the waterways of urban areas of the Philippines such as Manila.

Since 2009, there are more than 2.7 million people who live along the riverbanks, lakes, and sewers, also known as the “danger zones.” One major river in in Manila that is affected gravely by pollution is the Pasig River, which connects two major water bodies: Laguna de Bay (the largest lake in the Philippines) and Manila Bay. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of informal settlers living along this 27 km long river in shanty, dilapidated homes.

One source noted that there’s so much garbage in the River that there is a strong stench that fills the air and the river can be hazardous to those who go into the water. Another sources states that 60% of the total pollution of the Pasig River is due to domestic waste. The rest of the pollution and toxic chemicals originate from industrial wastes, which dump their wastes onto the sewage system that flows into the Pasig River and eventually into Manila Bay.

As you can see in the slideshow above, the garbage in these areas decreases the quality of their living conditions and makes them unbearable. This in turn causes most of the floods in Metro Manila to occur as a result of the typhoons. In the 2009 Typhoon Ondoy alone, millions of people lost their homes, livelihood, and even family members (460 was the death toll).

In addition to all this, toxic waterways and floods increase the chance to get infected with serious water-borne diseases. A week after the September 2009 typhoon in Manila, 2,299 people were affected with the serious water-born disease leptospirosis, which claimed 178 lives. This is especially dangerous for women who are pregnant. In the past, I learned in my Developmental Biology class that 7-10% of congenital abnormalities originate from environmental factors. If a pregnant woman gets infected with leptospirosis, both the baby and herself have the risk of severe illness and mortality.

Even though the government has been working on solutions to the waterways issues, there’s still much that needs to be done to solve this problem. Here are three possible solutions:

1.  It is necessary that the budget for the relocation housing projects be dispensed appropriately so that every family living along waterways like the Pasig River can be relocated to a safer and more permanent home. This will provide people with more improved living conditions and better access to proper food, clean water, and other basic necessities. Hopefully in the long run, their health and safety will improve as well.

2.  An alternative, eco-friendly method for disposing toxic, hazardous chemicals can be developed to prevent them from entering the waterways.

3.  A garbage-recycling site can be established in certain areas of the city as a way to better manage the garbage. This option also helps create more jobs. 

Please sign my petition and together, we can improve the lives of millions of people and decrease the pollution thereby decreasing the ongoing climate change. Together, we can revive the Philippines to its natural wonder and beauty.



Amilasan, Al-shere T. et al. “Outbreak of Leptospirosis after Flood, the Philippines, 2009.” Volume 18, Number 1-January 2012. Emerging Infectious Diseases, January 2012.

Carlson, Bruce M. Human Embryology and Developmental Biology. Mosby Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2009. (p. 159)

France-Presse, Agence. “Trying to Revive Toxic Pasig River.” Inquirer News, February 13, 2013.

G, Puliyath, S Singh. “Leptospirosis in pregnancy.” Pubmed 2012.

Gorme, Joan B. et al. The Water Quality of the Pasig River in the City of Manila, Philippines: Current Status, Management, and Future Recovery. Environmental Engineering Research: Korea, September 2010.

 Marcaraig, Mynardo, France-Presse, Agence. “Philippine floods a man-made disaster – experts.” Inquirer News, August 8, 2012.

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