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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Dangerous Levels of Pollution in Manila

The first time I visited Manila, I took a short walk around the block and my eyes began to burn from diesel fumes.  Manila is a vibrant tapestry woven from a spectacular history and resilience yet it has grappled for many years with a hidden adversary – pollution.

Imagine the iconic jeepneys, once symbols of lively commutes, now spewing fumes that cloud the city’s energy. The very waterways that cradled its growth, the Pasig River and Manila Bay, are choked with waste, a stark contrast to the life they once teemed with.  The Pasig River is a true cesspool that reeks every morning.  It tarnishes NCR.

The culprit? A tangled web of rapid growth, industry, and a relentless tide of waste. Cars, particularly those trusty but aging jeepneys, leave their mark on the air we breathe. Factories whisper plumes of pollutants, adding to the invisible burden. Even construction sites contribute, their dust an unwelcome addition to the already congested air.

But pollution isn’t just airborne. Below the surface, a different battle is raging. Untreated sewage and industrial waste find their way into rivers and the bay, turning life-giving waters into murky shadows of sludge. Plastic, once a symbol of convenience, now represents a choking hazard for marine life and a constant eyesore.

The consequences are far-reaching. Children, the elderly, and those already battling health issues bear the brunt, their lungs struggling against the smog. Waterborne diseases lurk beneath the surface, a constant threat to those seeking refreshment. Floods become more frequent as clogged drains overflow, a harsh reminder of our disregard.

Yet, even with all these, a flicker of hope remains. The spirit of Manila, much like its people, refuses to be dimmed. Initiatives are brewing, a collective effort to reclaim the city’s vibrant breath. Public transport dreams of a cleaner future, with efficient systems aiming to reduce the reliance on personal vehicles.

Waste segregation whispers of a responsible future, where plastic finds a second life and landfills no longer overflow.  Green spaces, pockets of nature amidst the concrete jungle, promise to filter the air and return a touch of serenity.

For those of us who still believe there is no huge issue then I offer you the following.  It is presently 8 PM in Manila, on a Saturday, and the air quality is “moderate”.  Quezon City is showing dangerous levels of pollution, while Pasig and Manila proper are a bit lower than dangerous.  This afternoon, all three had dangerous levels.  Saturday, is still incredible busy in Manila, but not as much as a weekday.  These readings given by Manila Air Quality are a warning to all of us.  Every day, without fail, there is a warning for a percentage of Filipinos to mask up or stay indoors.

Thankfully, there are many who understand the plight and their fight for a cleaner Manila is far from over, but the will to fight is there. It lies in the hands of policymakers crafting stricter regulations, industries embracing cleaner practices, and citizens choosing sustainable habits. It’s a fight for the health of a city, the well-being of its people, and ultimately, the future of this remarkable place.

So, the next time you hear of Manila, don’t just see the pollution. See the city fighting back, a testament to the human spirit’s enduring quest for a cleaner, brighter tomorrow.

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