Home is where the coast is

The early morning sun rises over the small fishing village of Dapdap. A wooden bridge, a small dilapidated church, greet visitors at its entrance. Despite the quiet and peaceful scene, this small community is also under threat.

Not from typhoons or floods or other natural hazards — residents here are used to those — but from an ambitious development project to build an "aerotropolis" in the area.

The 30 families in Sitio Dapdap — together with 700 others living in the coastal village of Barangay Taliptip in Bulakan town — are afraid of losing their homes when the construction begins in December.

According to Evangeline Ilod, a resident of Sitio Dapdap for 33 years, baranggay officials went to their village on October 4 to take photos of their houses and to ask for their names.

Rodel Alvarez, from Sitio Kinse, said the officials wanted residents to sign a document for their relocation. They said residents refused to sign because the officials did not give them much information about where they would be relocated.

Meanwhile, in Sitio Kinse, Teody Bacon, leader of a group of fishermen along the coast of Taliptip, urged the government to reconsider the project, the contract for which was signed in September. "Why not just expand Clark airport? We already have an airport there. Why do you need to reclaim parts of the sea along which lots of families are living?"

There has been talk that the project will bring the residents construction jobs and the airport project is expected to bring in development once completed, but Bacon does not see this as a solution.

"The ocean does not discriminate, whether you are old or young, educated or not, the ocean will not stop you from working," Bacon said. "But in malls, will they hire you if you did not finish your studies? Can you be a security guard if you cannot write?" He said children as young as nine can earn up to P300 in just two hours by just catching shrimps and crabs with their hands along Taliptip's shores.

As of early October, residents said they have not been shown any clear plans on how and where the hundreds of Taliptip families will be relocated. The developer, however, said "success of the airport project is linked to well-being of surrounding communities."

Residents told Philstar.com that 300 housing units will be allotted, but only to those who will relocate voluntarily. Those opposed to the project have been threatened that their opposition will mean being left out of the relocation plan, they said.

NewsX, short for "News Exclusive," is a one-off multimedia cover story of Philstar.com.