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I was supposed to be traveling with my family to Singapore over the Undas long weekend. That did not push through due to the circumstances brought about by Typhoon Paeng. What could have been our daughter’s first travel abroad did not materialize and we were left with sunk costs from the tickets we had already bought online for Universal Studios and the Singapore Zoo. We also had to cancel meet-ups with friends in Singapore.
This Cathay Pacific plane landed safely before noon and later departed for Hong Kong without incident.
An earlier ANA flight arrived and departed without incident. This one arrived mid afternoon but was similarly grounded due to the typhoon.
The airport announced all flights were canceled just before 6:30 PM. This was a late announcement that some airlines were waiting for. Cebu Pacific apparently had advance information as they canceled all their international flights one after the other around 6:00PM (probably to manage the crowds that would file out of the departure area to reclaim their luggage). We were disappointed that Singapore Airlines did not act immediately and decisively on the matter. We were expecting at least an announcement of when we could expect to be on the next flight. For an airline of their stature, I was also expecting that they could have made arrangements for accommodations due to the great inconvenience brought upon passengers. That was the least they could do if they intended to put us in the next available flight (planes were cleared to operate at 10:00PM that night). Apparently, the typhoon (and its implied acts of nature/acts of God aspect) was also a convenient excuse for the airline (and others, too) to practically abandon their passengers. [Note: A pilot friend intimated that these decisions and behavior by airlines are partly due to policies and actions of the previous administration/government of the Philippines where all the blame was put on airlines for cancellations and they were penalized for acting independently or ahead of government announcements.]
Of course, we later received a series of emails from the airline informing us that we were rebooked to flights the following day. I say ‘flights’ here because these the first email informed us of a flight at 10:00AM. A subsequent email then said we were to be in a 12:00 flight. A third then said that we were to be on a 2:00 PM flight. We got to read these emails around 7:00 AM the following day as they were sent overnight when we were already occupied in finding accommodations during inclement weather. Flabbergasted, we decided to request a refund instead of re-booking and rescheduling our trip. It was already difficult to reschedule as there weren’t any weekends long enough remaining this 2022 and this Undas was the ideal time for a getaway. We’ll try again another time.
It’s that time of year again when the heavy rains lead to flash floods along many roads. I took the following photo as we slowly progressed towards Cainta Junction early this week. The Felix Avenue approach was flooded after more than an hour of heavy rains fell upon Cainta and neighboring towns. We learned later that the rains fell on a larger area as EDSA and other major road in Metro Manila also experience flash floods. These cause traffic to slow down if not outright stoppage. Many commuters can get stranded when PUVs are not able to run due to the floods. Deeper waters mean light vehicles including motorcycles and bicycles cannot proceed along certain roads, further exacerbating the traffic situation.
Motorcyclists emerge from their shelters to travel along flooded roads. A common sight when there are downpours are motorcyclists huddling under overpasses, bridges, or whatever shelter may be available to them. Many bring rain gear but opt to just stop and wait it out until the rain stops.
A cyclist braves the floods – while pedestrians will likely stop and wait it out for the rains to stop or for the floods to subside, cyclist might just pedal on. They just have to be more careful as potholes and other dangers may be hidden by the floodwaters.
Cainta Junction has been submerged by so many floods over so many years. Even with the new drainage constructed under and along Ortigas Avenue Extension, Felix Avenue and Bonifacio Avenue, it seems their capacities are not enough to handle the rainwaters. That or perhaps their intakes need to be redesigned to more efficiently take on the heavy rains and the resulting runoff.
I was heading to the office the Monday after Typhoon Ulysses had devastated wide areas in Luzon. I was aware of the congestion along my usual routes so I used Waze to guide my trip. Waze took me to Tumana instead of Marcos Highway, which I assumed would have been less congested. I took the following photos in the Tumana area:
Congested main road due to heavy equipment like bulldozers, backhoes and dump trucks clearing the mud and trash in the area. There were also lots of parked vehicles along each side of the road including Marikina service and emergency vehicles.
There was trash all around that included what looked like the belongings of people residing in the area. Many people were busy clearing their homes of items destroyed or damaged by the floodwaters.
Despite being cleared for traffic, you can see the mud and water still in the area and signs of how deep the flood waters were by markings on the buildings.
At the foot of the bridge connecting to Quezon City, you can see that there is still so much mud in many areas especially those closest to the river. Sidestreets were so narrow that the heavy equipment cannot enter them and cleaning the mud had to be done entirely manually.
Here are what looks like the vehicles that survived the floods. I thought people must have rushed to get their vehicles on the best positions atop the bridge when they realized the waters were rising fast. It was likely few if anyone left their vehicles there during the height of the typhoon. That’s because the winds were so strong that perhaps people though it would be unsafe to leave their vehicles exposed to the winds.
The following photos from Facebook shows the extent of the flooding that reached the other side of the river – Loyola Grand Villas and another subdivision that’s directly along the banks of the Marikina River. The first photo shows the submerged end of the bridge from the LGV side in the foreground and Tumana in the background at the other end of the Tumana Bridge. The second photo is atop LGV and shows many submerged homes and cars.
Only the cars on the bridge likely survived the floods.
This was definitely at the level of the floods of Typhoon Andy (Ketsana) given the spread and depth of the floods.
One wonders what is now the return period for these typhoons. Ondoy was 11 years ago and the monsoon (Habagat) rains that also brought heavy rains and floods were in 2012 (8 years ago). Such floods cannot be solved by improving drainage systems alone but have to go to the root cause of flooding while also addressing how people could cope with these phenomena. Infrastructure alone cannot solve this and certainly will cost a lot for any initiative to provide some relief from such.
Here’s something different thought not totally unrelated to transportation. The article is about the emergence of super typhoons and their aftermaths:
Niiler, E. (November 4, 2020) What Is a Super Typhoon, and Why Are They So Dangerous? Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/what-is-a-super-typhoon-and-why-are-they-so-dangerous/?bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&esrc=AUTO_OTHER&mbid=CRMWIR092120&source=EDT_WIR_NEWSLETTER_0_DAILY_ZZ&utm_brand=wired&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=WIR_Daily_110420&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nl&utm_term=list2_p2
With the typical influx of typhoons (i.e., during the wet season there are months that can be referred to as ‘typhoon season’) and the prospects of super typhoons becoming more regular, there is now a need to review infrastructure, building guidelines and standards for cities and municipalities to become more resilient vs. these phenomena. Not long ago, disaster resilience became part of the agenda for infrastructure development; including maintenance and retrofitting vs. the anticipated calamities from typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruption that are experienced in many parts of the country. Perhaps the transportation system can be structured to be more disaster-resistant. And, if these phenomena happen, the transportation system can survive and serve for relief operations.
It’s that time of year again when it rains a lot. This year’s typhoon season has moved again to the latter part (last quarter) of the year. It used to be that we had typhoons lining up as early as June with the peak arrivals around August to September. This year, the bunch of them seem to be arriving in October and probably Novembers. These are the ones that usually cross the main island of Luzon through the Bicol Region. Typhoons in November tend to cross the Visayan Islands (central Philippines). Meanwhile, in December they tend to go through the southern island of Mindanao. The rains usually make roads slippery and risky to many travelers especially if the driver or rider choose to be reckless or less cautious. Floods cause congestion and wreak havoc to commuters who might get stranded due to the stoppage of traffic and transport services when roads are impassable to vehicles.
Model storm tracks for the Western Pacific from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US.
The model storm tracks suggest a number of typhoons may be forming in the Pacific Ocean and cross the Philippines from this week onwards. Of course, these are still just models that are generated from the data obtained from various sources using tools such as weather satellites and on-the-ground weather stations. Many of these typhoons might never materialize. One thing positive for sure is that these occurrences will bring more water and recharge depleted reservoirs to get us through the next dry season.
We interrupt our regular posts with an article on the current state of the weather and some thoughts while a super typhoon (Mangkut) was devastating the northern and central Philippines. First the article from Wired:
Rogers, A. (2018) An Equator Full of Hurricanes Shows a Preview of End Times, http://www.wired.com, https://www.wired.com/story/an-equator-full-of-hurricanes-shows-a-preview-of-end-times/?CNDID=37243643&mbid=nl_091418_daily_list1_p4 [Last accessed: 9/15/2018]
I am not into doomsday articles and thinking but am always fascinated by it if has foundations in science and fact rather than of religion or the “prepper” type of thinking. This one is based on fact and should not be dismissed as “fake new” – an excuse many use if the information presented to them offers an inconvenient truth about our state of affairs or, in this case, state of the earth.
Gloomy weather brought about by Typhoon Mangkut
I was thinking about the bad weather and what previous strong typhoons have brought about early this morning as I was awaken by the sound of the strong winds and the heavy rains that followed. I easily come awake and cannot sleep whenever we have inclement weather. Its been like this since my childhood as our home was in a flood prone area.
The last times there were typhoons comparable in perceived and actual physical impacts, the socio-political impacts also eventually manifested. Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) in 2009 dumped record rainfall across a wide area that included Metro Manila, Central Luzon (Region 3) and Southern Luzon (Region 4A). The government’s response then and the issues that came about afterwards essentially contributed much to the doom for many of the administration’s candidates in the 2010 elections including its standard bearer who was Defense Secretary at the time. The follies of many politicians and government agencies were also exposed and most people judged them for that in the elections.
Come 2013, another typhoon, Haiyan (Yolanda), laid waste to much of the central Philippines. It was a super typhoon that again caught most, especially government, unprepared for the devastation that was its outcome. It spelled disaster, too, to many political aspirations with the then Interior Secretary becoming the poster boy somewhat for the government’s failures. Apparently, many of the lessons of Ondoy were not heeded despite gains here and there in weather forecasting and disaster preparedness. But then these were perceived to be more on the side of politicians. There were no lack in politicking, self promotion and grandstanding. And there was even more drama among rival sides in Philippine politics. There was enough material for fodder come 2016.
The current administration is much aware of the issues and the dangers of playing into the same script. After all, they created much of the political storm that led to an almost complete defeat of the previous admin’s ticket (the current VP survived that and hopefully gets to finish her term instead of being replaced by the ambitious son of a former dictator). But the present set of leaders and wannabees are not lacking for distasteful maneuvers as relief goods are being prepared by government agencies and local government units bearing the name (and sometimes even face) of aspirants for electoral posts in the 2019 elections. Among these are a Presidential “alalay” who is somewhat desperate for a senate post if only to protect himself from charges once his sponsor(s) bow down from power.
Will Mangkut/Ompong effect positive change in the country? Perhaps so and we can only hope it will be for the better. And that we, as a people, learn from mistakes we have made including electing certain people who are not fit or qualified to lead us.
With the news of the devastation of Houston by Hurricane Harvey comes articles about transportation in that city. An interesting articles is this one:
Davies, A. (2017) “Hurricane Harvey Destroys Up to a Million Cars in Car-Dependent Houston“. Wired.com. September 3, 2017. https://www.wired.com/story/harvey-houston-cars-ruined?mbid=nl_090317_daily&CNDID=%%CUST_ID%% (Last accessed 9/4/2017).
The article reminded me of a very personal experience back in 2009 when Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) submerged much of Metro Manila and its adjoining provinces in what was believed to be at least 100-year floods. Greater Metro Manila or Mega Manila is not too dependent on private cars for transportation with an estimated 70% of trips taking public transport (about 30% use private vehicles including motorcycles and taxis). Much of this public transportation, however, is road-based and so the floods did much to affect transportation in the area for the weeks after Ondoy. Car-owners rebounded quite quickly and car sales surged afterwards with many people purchasing SUVs in response to the likelihood of floods.
But what if Ondoy happened today? What if people were as unprepared as in 2009? Perhaps the damage would have been even greater than back in 2009. Mega Manila has become more dependent on cars since then with the current estimates of private vehicle mode shares at around 35%. The increase includes not only taxis and motorcycles, which have enjoyed steep increases in the past decade, but also ridesharing services (i.e., Uber and Grab).
Uber and Grab vehicles are predominantly comprised of vehicles purchased for the main purpose of being driven for income instead of the original concept of ridesharing where the vehicles are already owned and operated only during the free times of their owners (i.e., they provide services only on a part-time basis). Their proliferation and popularity means a lot more vehicles could have been damaged by Ondoy and that the owners of these vehicles likely would not have recovered from the loss even despite their auto insurance coverages.
Metro Manila and other Philippine cities under the threat of similar severe weather systems such as typhoons should build resilient transportation systems. Not surprisingly, among the more resilient modes of transport are non-motorized such as walking and cycling. Pedicabs where almost immediately back on service in Tacloban after Yolanda practically destroyed that city. But then again, an efficient public transport system is also necessary and buses and trains may provide relief from flooded cities. Maybe, a proposed subway system can also contribute if it includes the construction of subterranean drainage systems similar to that of Tokyo’s. These are not easy to develop or build with infrastructure costing much over the long term. However, Metro Manila needs to start building them now as these won’t get cheaper in the future.
With the onset of the wet season, expect many roads to be slippery during and after rains. As such, extra care should be exercised by travelers especially motorists. It is easy to lose control of vehicles, especially motorcycles, when speeding or undertaking risky maneuvers like overtaking, counter flowing, and tailgating. Traffic enforcement units also need to be active in accosting motorists for risky behavior that may endanger the lives of not only the vehicle occupants but of other people as well like innocent pedestrians and cyclists minding their own business.
Following are a couple of photos of an incident along Sumulong Highway after rains in the area. Apparently, only a motorcycle rider was involved in what seems to be something that would be categorized as a “self accident”. No other motorists may have been involved although I suspect it could also be a case of a “near miss” where the rider lost control after almost hitting or being hit by an errant vehicle.
With the onset of the wet season, heavy rains have reminded us how terrible commuting can be especially in Metro Manila where public transport services are much wanting in terms of quality. But whether you are driving or riding, using private or public transport, there is always something about the rains that make you feel uncomfortable. Metro Manila’s roads are becoming more and more notorious for flooding and I guess that goes the same with many other roads in other cities as well. Drainage is almost automatically blamed but closer inspection of the cause of flooding shows even the newest drainage systems being unable to accommodate rain waters in part due to their being clogged (by garbage, mud and/or other stuff) or having inferior design for intense rains. With extreme weather now becoming the norm, that is not a good thing especially with what is perceived as poor maintenance of our waterways and road drainage systems. Just look at how overpasses get flooded everytime the rain pours; causing traffic congestion that could have been averted if only we can weather-proof our roads to a certain extent.
Low visibility even during the middle of the day plus slippery pavement surfaces due to heavy rains can cause congestion and lead to unsafe conditions for traveling. The latter outcome is even worse during the night and, in higher elevations, when you have fog to add to the complexity of the environment you are traveling along. Aside from travel time, nothing more serious like life or limb can be lost by practicing safe driving whenever it is raining hard. That includes slowing down, turning on your lights (for visibility) and refraining from undertaking risky maneuvers. Pedestrians and cyclists, too, need to take more caution knowing the higher risks they face or are exposed to when traveling under inclement weather conditions.
The wet season is here and with it the now typically heavy rains in the afternoons. Last week, the heavy rains brought upon flash floods in Metro Manila and adjacent towns. There have been no typhoons yet so these are mainly monsoon rains (Habagat), which we expect to be daily occurrences. Many of these floods are along major roads including EDSA, C5, Espana, and Quezon Ave. that transformed these roads into parking lots as most light vehicles are unable to traverse flooded streets.
Vehicles run along the flooded Elliptical Road in Quezon City
Due to the traffic congestion resulting from the floods, many public utility vehicles especially jeepneys and UV Express vehicles were not able to go back and make their round trips.
Cars risk the floods along Elliptical Road – the deepest waters are, ironically and curiously, along the section fronting Quezon City Hall where there is a pedestrian underpass connecting city hall with the Quezon Memorial Circle. Since the underpass is not flooded then it can be concluded that there’s something wrong with the drainage for Elliptical Road.
The weather is a very significant consideration for transport planning for cities in the Philippines. For Metro Manila it is almost everyone’s concern about how they can travel between their homes, offices, schools and other destinations without them and their things getting wet. This is what a lot of people advocating for road sharing seem to forget or choose to forget in their arguments for walking and cycling. A person residing in Fairview in Quezon City and working in Makati City will most likely not walk or cycle between his home and office because of the weather. This is a reality that could be solved by good public transportation, which, unfortunately, we also don’t have (yet) so people are ‘forced’ to do what they can to improve their plight. Unfortunately, too, what they are forced to do is purchase a car (or more). The proposal to build infrastructure to enable walking and cycling especially over medium to long distance is in the same dilemma as those for mass transit. And the latter is the more urgent matter needing action for the sheer volume of people they can carry and therefore benefit.