Philippine Daily Inquirer
Pariahan, a community sent to extinction by climate
Water left by rains, flooding swallows part of Bulacan village where 100 families once lived
BULAKAN, BULACAN— Only photographs will remind people these days that a community used to thrive in what is now the submerged Pariahan Island here.
More than 100 families called Sitio Pariahan their home before Typhoon “Mina” (international name: Nanmadol) blew through Bulacan province, triggering massive floods in 2011.
Dikes that had protected fishponds were destroyed and no fishpond operator had replaced them.
The island’s residents used to serve as caretakers of these ponds and left when their sources of livelihood vanished.
Today, only 36 families remained at the sitio where relics of a chapel and a school that jut out of the water, which never receded are still visible.
Constant rain, including the recent onslaught of the monsoon in April and Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut) in September, ensured that this sitio of the island village of Taliptip would remain underwater for decades to come, according to Rosario Mariano, municipal disaster risk reduction management officer.
The government has no plans to downgrade the status of Sitio Pariahan, in spite of the fact that most of the community has literally disappeared.
Even mangroves in the area were dying because these have started to starve due to the absence of rich soil that has been washed away, Mariano said.
Residents visit neighbors by taking boat rides when all it took before 2011 was a short walk.
“I was born there in 1966. My parents and grandparents were also born there,” said Jose JimmySan Jose, 54, a municipal employee who lived in Pariahan.
“Pariahan was the largest sitio,” he said.
The other sitios on Taliptip Island included Baluarte, Sapang Buhangin, Camansi, Kinse, Bunutan, Habulan, Wawang Dapdap, Capol and Tapatan.
“Pariahan was also the most visited during my youth,” San Jose said.
“The community fiesta was held there. It hosted the largest church and had the biggest school (Pariahan Elementary School),” San Jose added.
The school had 15 pupils when floods submerged its classrooms in 2011, said Josefina Natividad, then Bulakan district supervisor of the Department of Education.
The students were in a multigrade class and their two teachers ended up sleeping in the classrooms when the dikes broke and water swept the school compound.
No longer healthy
“The last time the school held its graduation was in 2009,” Natividad said.
“But after Mina struck, the school sank along with houses. Even the toilets disappeared,” she said.
“Our sitio is no longer a healthy community with everything underwater,” Natividad added.
The local government used motor boats to ferry students to the elementary school in nearby Barangay Perez.
Only eight of the 12 sitios are inhabited by about 300 families, and only five families continued to stay in each of the remaining four islands.
“We need to [permanently] relocate these families to decent and safer homes soon,” Mariano said.