By Elson T. Elizaga
August 6, 2010 — Cagayan de Oro is traversed by several rivers and streams with origins in Bukidnon. On the first week of January 2009, an unusually massive cloud system covered almost the entire Philippines. The rivers and streams of Cagayan de Oro quickly overflowed on the 3rd, 11th, and 13th and submerged many residential areas, including barangay Lapasan and Carmen.
Streets became murky rivers, and several vehicles and houses were submerged. The flood also affected many areas in Misamis Oriental and other parts of Mindanao. The multi-purpose halls of Bulua and Opol became evacuation centers.
Mindanews reports that in Cagayan de Oro “Illegal mining and wanton destruction of the remaining forests in Lanao provinces have been blamed for the series of flash floods in early January that left three people dead and affected 16,104 families or 83,321 individuals in 47 barangays or more than half of the city’s 80 barangays.”
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo flew to Cagayan de Oro on the 22nd to attend an emergency meeting of disaster coordinating councils. Speaking on TV and a radio station, Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma blamed deforestation, hydraulic mining, clogged canals, and poor subdivision planning for the calamity.
Less than a year later, a bill declaring Cagayan de Oro a logging-free zone was passed in Congress. Representative Rufus Rodriguez was quoted by Sun.Star Daily: ” … our total log ban bill has been approved by the House of Representatives. I urged the Senate to act speedily on it because this will help ensure that the January flash floods won’t happen again in our city.”
Mayor Constantino Jaraula invited geologists from the University of the Philippines to find ways to control the floods. The geologists in a press conference reported that a huge part of the city sits on the river delta, which is easily submerged during heavy rains. They recommended that future city developments be made in higher grounds. [February 8, 2012 11:03 AM: The article in kagay-an.com about “city developments be made in higher grounds” no longer exists, so cannot be linked to.]
Geologists also identified a bottle neck in Cagayan River due to bank reclamation. The reclaimed area is the location of a Paseo del Rio, a commercial area under construction.
One of the geologists, Prof. Fernando Siringan, said, “Cagayan de Oro should encourage movement to higher grounds, not necessarily uplands … Development of uplands should be carefully planned as the uplands play a major role in groundwater recharge. Forest cover should be improved and waste water should be properly handled ….”.
Several environmentalists, like Bency Ellorin of Task Force Macajalar, remark that the massive flooding of Cagayan de Oro in 2009 was partly caused by the depletion of the forests in Bukidnon. Other people blame global warming.
Historian and anthropologist Antonio J. Montalvan II, however, took note of a great flood almost a hundred years ago. On page 100-102 of A Cagayan de Oro Ethnohistory Reader, Montalvan describes The Great Cagayan River Flood of 1916:
“A very strong typhoon brought a continuous downpour for three days. The Cagayan River overflowed its banks. Houses along the riverside streets were inundated. But the low-lying Pabayo Street, then called Calle Nueva, was under water that residents there had to wade through the waters by boat.
“… It was the flood that apparently gave rise to the name Puntod, a slightly elevated land that remained dry during the flood, and the name has stuck till the present, despite its being in a lowland area … The great flood changed the river’s course, particularly in the areas southeast and southwest of San Agustin church.”
In an email to the Heritage Conservation Advocates egroup on January 12, 2009, Montalvan wrote:
“The two recent flash floods we had, of the Cagayan River and the one yesterday of the Iponan River, were nothing compared to the great flood of 1916. In 1916, the rains poured continuously for three days. Some accounts say one week.. When the river changed course, it created new alluvial plains, particularly those of Tibasak — which was hardest hit last week — and [the area where] the new rotunda is [located]. [The rotunda] is a property belonging to Rafaelita Pelaez Golez. [It is] where she intends to build a new city designed by Felino Palafox.
“They never learn. Those areas are all alluvial plans, and chances are they will become river beds tomorrow when the river changes course again. That has always been a character of this river.” end
Written on June 13, 2011
BY ASHZEL HACHERO
The Malaya Newspaper
The Department of Education (DepEd) is lukewarm to the idea by some sectors to reset the opening of classes to September but nevertheless is willing to further study it.
“Pag-aaralan natin ito pero ang problema kasi with climate change pabago-bago na ang takbo ng klima baka naman pag nilipat natin sa September saka naman maulan. Siguro nung mga nakalipas na taon na may pattern pa ang weather pwede pa,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
The proposal resurfaced after DepEd ordered the suspension of classes in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces last week due to heavy rains brought by tropical depression “Dodong.”
The suspension took place only days after classes in the elementary and secondary level opened last June 6.
The Federation of Associations of Private Schools and Administrators (Fapsa), which counts 1,600 members in Metro Manila alone, supports the move to reset the opening of classes as it noted that because of cancellations as many as 25 to 30 days are subtracted from the calendar, as recorded in the previous years.
Fapsa president Eleazardo Kasilag also said the dry season months have changed due to the looming climate change and the season is not as hot as before.
Likewise, he stressed it would lessen confusion among students and parents as well as avoid finger-pointing among the DepEd, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Council and city mayors.
Kasilag said if the September opening of classes is out of the question, then the DepEd can hold the opening of classes in August.
Currently, he said only the Philippines and Brunei are the countries in the Asia-Pacific region that open their regular classes in June.
Malaysia and Singapore open their classes in January; China in February; South Korea in March; Japan and India in April; Thailand in May; Indonesia in July and Hong Kong in September.
Last year, Sen. Franklin Drilon filed Senate Bill 2407 seeking to move the opening of classes to September saying that the June opening results to inconvenience to students, parents and even teachers.
A similar bill (Senate Bill 565) was filed by then Senate President Manuel Villar but failed to get the support of majority of the lawmakers.
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. filed House Bill 1388 or The School Calendar Act of 2010 last December resetting the opening of the school year from June to September for health and safety reasons.
They explained that the move to open classes in September would make the school calendar suited to the weather conditions, and address the change in the global weather patterns due to climate change.
A DepEd survey from August to September 2009 showed that 66 percent were against the September opening of classes, while 34 percent were in favor.
It also showed that 13 regions out of the 17 were not in favor of the move.
Those against the proposal said holding classes during the hot months of April and May is not conducive to learning.
They argued that classrooms will need additional ventilation during the dry season, thus, incurring additional expenses for electricity. Also, those months are spent for family bonding activities and vacation.
Those in favor of the proposal cited health and economic reasons for the transfer of school opening. They said children are less prone to illnesses and other health hazards brought about by the rainy weather and floods.
Another survey conducted in 2003 showed that 70 percent of respondents favored the original opening of classes in June.
The ACT Teachers group said a September opening of classes would pose more problems for students since they will have to go to class during April and May, the hottest months in the country to ensure they will be able to comply with the mandated 202 school days.
“Hindi conducive sa pag-aaral ng mga bata ang summer months dahil nakapakainit at alam naman natin na ang ating mga public schools maliban sa overcrowded ay wala namang air-conditioning system,” ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio said.