Short of building a contemporary model of Noah’s Ark, listen to Jun Palafox on building homes in the post-Ondoy, post-Ulysses chapters of our history as a resilient people, but enough of that adjective — we’re suffering from exercising too much resiliency already.
From now on, Mr. Palafox the urban planner urges, houses must be designed vertically, three stories high, to withstand floods. Use the ground floor to park the car, second floor for less important things, third floor for the most important things – why make it easy for looters to break in?
Building vertical is also the way to go should building on reclaimed land become the next trend (!) and land becomes more scarce as population grows. Jun is not alone in warning that floods will worsen and become more frequent, they won’t go away like a nightmare that fades at daybreak. This late in the day, climate change needs to be acknowledged by ordinary people as urgently as do meteorologists and architects, constructors, developers. Alas, we don’t see environmental terrorists – illegal miners and loggers – getting their just desserts. There are laws to protect nature, but mysteries co-exist with the do’s and don’ts.
Can we flood-proof our houses?
What happened after Ulysses’ brutal assault on the two valleys, Marikina and Cagayan, and other provinces is a preview of more extreme weather to come. With our forests denuded, mountains perforated, and dams grown ancient, nature’s winds and rains are not solely to blame but human greed and corruption also.
Days after the typhoon, Marikina residents are still trying to wash out the mud that has stuck to their clothes and houses without mercy (and without water). For Provident Villages, which suffered several casualties during Ondoy’s onslaught in 2009, it was a cruel déjà vu on the day Ulysses poured down. I remember how the indomitable Charito Planas bought a big house in Provident months after Ondoy. Housing prices had plunged and she argued that it was a good buy, for after the devastation, “lightning won’t strike twice.” Whereupon, she moved into the house and proudly, loudly nagged friends to visit and “like the view without the flood.”
Whoever lives there now, I’d like to think Charito had great foresight in choosing a three-story residence.