Climate change takes its toll in Bulacan
- Dino Balabo () - February 1, 2011 - 12:00am

HAGONOY, Bulacan , Philippines  – Climate change has taken its toll on two coastal villages of this town along the Manila Bay hampering livelihood and food production while threatening to wash away the villages into the sea.

This is due to the destruction of at least 100 hectares of municipal fishpond or propius fronting the Manila Bay.

The said fishponds served as a buffer for the villages of Pugad and Tibaguin here for decades, but declined in management, left it to the waves during rainy season that wiped out the rock and soil dike making it not part of the sea.

“Time and weather has changed this place,” rued Alfredo Lunes in the vernacular, while piloting his motorboat toward a dead tree that remains standing on the submerged dike of the damaged municipal fishpond.

A village councilman of Pugad, the 42-year-old Lunes who is fondly called “Doy” by his friends told The STAR, aside from the lone dead tree beside another which was felled by the waves, nothing is left of the fishpond dike aside from the remains of concrete check gates that stick out of the water during low tide.

The check gates which used to control inflow and outflow of water is of no use now except for being home for growing oysters and mussels.

Doy said that the dikes of the municipal fishponds served as buffer of their village from strong waves during typhoon season.

But the dike began to deteriorate nine years ago as one of the last propietario of the municipal fishpond cut mangroves and other coastal trees that grew on the dike for decades.

It was followed by the absence of a new propietario, as no one dared to rent the propius from the municipal government.

With the fishpond dike gone, Barangays Pugad and Tibaguin were left to the mercy of the waves that penetrated even the center of the villages, especially during high tide.

“The waves are so powerful, some houses fronting the Manila Bay were literally uprooted,” Doy said.

This situation, he said, forced many residents to move to their relatives in mainland Hagonoy during typhoon season.

But threats to human lives and properties are not the only impacts of climate change in coastal communities.

Ramon Atienza Jr., the chief of Barangay Pugad noted that even their livelihood is at stake.

“The sea appeared running out of fish,” he said in Tagalog.

In the past, Atienza said residents of coastal villages of Bulacan including Pugad and Tibaguin were living in relative affluence due to daily generous catch from the sea.

“They said it’s a combination of over fishing, pollution, climate change, but we think that its more of the latter,” he said.

Atienza said that weather conditions had become erratic in the past years and local fishermen can hardly cope.

He said that aside from boat fishing, residents of coastal villages mostly defend on baklad of stationary fish traps.

But those stationary fish traps made of bamboo stilts and fishnets are no match with the rushing waves that slam the coast with fury.

The same was echoed by Laura David, a physical oceanographer from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute.

ALFREDO LUNES ATIENZA BARANGAY PUGAD BARANGAYS PUGAD AND TIBAGUIN BULACAN DOY LAURA DAVID MANILA BAY PUGAD AND TIBAGUIN RAMON ATIENZA JR. UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES MARINE SCIENCE INSTITUTE
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