An Anarchist and Autonomous Community-Based Resource Center in Muntinlupa City (Manila south), Philippines
Based on informal discussions and sharing in various venues in the community, the area is occasionally experience flooding primarily due to tropical storms that regularly visit the country. The newly established community experience the first flood during early 1990s. It was followed after more than a decade, when tropical storm Ondoy in 2010 brought massive rain water that submerged many areas in Metro Manila.
Almost half of Metro Manila was submerged in flood after three consecutive days of non-stop rain. Flood water reached roof of low lying areas like Marikina, Cainta, Malabon, Valenzuela (CAMANAVA) , Cainta and Pasig where poor residents were needed to rescue. The torrential rains brought by northeast moonsoon left 60 people dead, 1 billion loss in agriculture in Central Luzon alone; it caused 2.4 million to evacuate and 360,000 people obliged to stay in evacuation centers.
According to the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Ramon Paje, the torrential rain occurred last August 2012 is the “new trend”, due to changes in climate and weather pattern caused by global warming. Southeast Asian countries are considered as climate hotspot of many experts and authority in climate change issue like the UN-IPCC (United Nations – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change); there are worst predictions based on data, there are already 300,000 people affected in the global south due to climate change related incidents and we are thankful that our community is spared to the violent effect of changing climate but we are deeply saddened by the news of loss of lives, destruction of livelihoods, displacement and trauma caused by the incidents.
The pain caused by these events exacerbated by the poor respond of the government; despite of billions of funds involved in climate change issue the supposed responsible institutions remained lax and showed no serious program that will enable marginalised communities to increase their capacity for adaptation.
The residents in our community have detailed memory of events during flood seasons, we have common knowledge of how and when exactly the flood will take place. We have also an idea where to source out limited materials to be used for construction of improvised bridges, we have volunteers who are always ready for action; but generally we do not have means to access important support such as relief, construction materials, health supplies, food, clean water, clothing and other basic things.
Based on our experience, (during early 1990s; Ondoy – 2010 and torrential rains – 2012), flood begun to increase rapidly when dams started to release volume of water . The highest level of water normally cover more that 90 percent of OnSite community. The people will spontaneously cooperate, they will gather materials anywhere they can find and without clear guide will start construction giving priority to main road.
Volunteers will end up starving; minor injuries will left unattended and people will engaged in constant arguments due to unplanned activities from bridge construction to distribution of very limited relief.
Supplies coming from private sectors, city government and national government and other institutions were being intercepted by barangay authorities, they facilitate relief distribution but people are keep on complaining about the irregularities. According to the reports, many victims have not receive any relief while residents who are not affected by flood able to access the supplies. There are also reports about trading or selling supplies like rice that said to be part of the relief.
Stagnant water normally stayed in our area for about three months until it became giant sewerage; garbage and other domestic waste including human excreta were thrown into the water. It became home to hundred thousands of wrigglers which will became major problem when they grow into mosquitoes.
Common illness are, diarrhea, fever and flu. Recently a new breed of mosquito caused flu and severe joint and muscle pains to victims who have weak body resistance like senior citizens and children. Many mothers fell ill and almost immobilized for months, It caused so much burden to families who mainly maintained by housewives.
Improvised bridges caused accidents particularly to children, students and women. The improvised structure will became a daily struggle to many people who need to go to school and work; loss of livelihood is another issue that affected income of many families seriously.
The torrential rain flooded Onsite community for the third time. But this time, volunteers of the Infoshop agreed to take concrete action in contribution to the general effort of addressing the issue. Through our network, we managed to connect to homeowner’s association of a rich community. They provided us lumbers for better bridge flooring.
Autonomous activists and collectives gathered substantial quantity of relief goods from universities and other networks.
None of the politicians, from opposition and incumbent elected officials from the local and national ever visited us during flood. Now they are asking for support and to vote for them. despite of what happened, many people in the community are inclined to support politicians, the inability of the public officials to respond to community problem is common. many people thought they could exploit politicians during election season.
Since we are independent and autonomous, we do not patronise any politician; as a result, no politician heed to our call for support to our flood preparation plan and activities. Even progressive and leftist party list dismissed our solidarity call, according to them they have their own community to support to.
This situation would not discourage us to act. Support from autonomous groups are set to deliver the necessary materials to meet the requirements we see important in our flood preparation campaign.
The thinking of the people with regard to the politician is a great challenge, we need to set participatory process that would make them realize that their own strength is the only reliable and sustainable solution to their current situation.
Last December 1, 2012, a public forum was organised by Mobile Anarchist School and Onsite Info shop. A local TV personality – Tado Jimenez who also involved in flood related campaign was invited to attract people to make them participate in a discussion concerning their own lives.
PRIMYADO SINDIKATO, a local rap group from Muntinlupa City together with Cerumenetric from Laguna were also invited to give free entertainment and to maintain the interest of the people.
After painful experience, we decided to act. We engaged in series of dialogue and came-up of a plan that will systematise flood related activities.