Still flooded, lakeside Taguig village cries out in the breezeBy Jaymee T. Gamil
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The floodwaters have long receded in much of Taguig City—but not in one gated middle-class community with a classy name as it remains at the mercy of the swollen Laguna de Bay.
Baybreeze Executive Village in Barangay Hagonoy is still submerged in waist-deep water long after life in the other barangays had returned to normal.
Built in the late 1980s by Sta. Lucia Realty, the village lies along the shores of the country’s largest freshwater lake.
Before the turn of the millennium, this part of Taguig was known to go underwater every five years or so. Back then, it was still a bearable inconvenience for Baybreeze homeowners who chose to stay partly because of the picturesque lakeside view.
Over the past three years, however, the floods have become an annual ordeal, not only getting deeper but also lasting much longer.
As a result, out of the 350 families living here, 230 have evacuated since August, Robel de la Paz, president of the homeowners association, told the Inquirer in an interview last week.
“We expect this flood to last until December,” said De la Paz, whose family was among those who had moved to temporary shelters.
The residents initially thought that the C-6 road dike project, which was started in 2007, would be their buffer against the seasonal overflow of Laguna de Bay.
But the dike took a different path and ended up “trapping” water in the village instead—like what happened during the 2009 onslaught of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” and again during the heavy monsoon rains last month.
“The question is: Why was the C-6 road dike allowed to be constructed with Baybreeze behind it (and exposed to flooding)?” De la Paz said.
“They said the cost would go up if they put Baybreeze within (the protected side), but we were already here before the project even began,” said De la Paz, a resident since 1998.
“We don’t deserve to live this way and we need to have the government see what can be done to save the village,” he said, noting that Baybreeze is home mostly to professionals and diligent taxpayers who have invested millions of pesos in real estate.
Another resident, a government employee, said: ‘’What really hurts us is that there was supposed to be a solution (the dike) but we seem to have been left out of it.”
Since last month, tricycle drivers in the 89-hectare subdivision have been eking out a living as boatmen. Instead of cars, boats and rafts are plying the streets.
It’s not unusual to spot ducks straying from somebody’s yard and swimming on the street. Fish from the lake—along with patches of water hyacinth—have also moved in.
The ground floors of the houses have been deserted and power supply is limited to the upper floors. Since the front door entrance is underwater, residents now climb ladders leading to a second-floor window to get in.
The unoccupied houses have become easy pickings for burglars. De la Paz said the village has guards posted at the gate, but is defenseless against robbers entering Baybreeze by boat from the side facing the lake.
Adding to—and perhaps because of—this collective stress among the residents, something very rare happened in the village recently: A double murder.
On Sept. 12, two officers of the homeowners association—Carmi del Rosario and Emil de Belen— were shot dead near the gates allegedly by another resident. The suspect remained at large.
Before the killings, witnesses said the suspect had confronted Del Rosario about the subdivision’s water bill reaching about half a million pesos last month.
The bill went up for still unexplained reasons despite the mass evacuation and the water supply being limited to only two hours a day since the calamity struck. De la Paz said leaky pipes were probably to blame but that this can’t be verified with the village still underwater.
Deserted homes, dislocated families and now the twin murders—all painfully linked to the floodwaters that just won’t go away in a place that supposedly offered breezy urban living.