Quarrying, an industry that Rizal is known for, is also another reason for the denuded and flattened mountain sides. Juanico said roughly 80 percent of the construction materials, like gravel and sand, being used in Metro Manila come from Rizal province.
Because of heavy quarrying, “Marikina river is now silted. This made it very shallow. So when an abnormal rainfall like Ondoy came, it easily overflowed,” Juanico said. (Read sidebar: In Marikina, Ondoy Shatters a Myth)
He added that the dynamite explosions used in quarrying also weakens the foundation of the mountain or even causing them to crack. “This cracks can be penetrated by the water during a heavy rainfall. It would soften the soil beneath it and would cause landslides.”
“There is only one reason that Rizal became too vulnerable to Ondoy, and that is because the government is merely reactive,” Oscar Lapida Jr., deputy secretary-general in the Southern Tagalog region of the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, told Bulatlat. “They only carry out plans when something has already happened. They are shortsighted about the fact that the mitigating measures would only cause more trouble in the future.”
Lapida said fisherfolk and farmers have long been affected by the frequent typhoon and flooding in the area because the forest system had not been considered in the “development” plans. Lapida added that they are only given attention now because even the rich people were heavily affected by Ondoy. “In my recent conversations with peasants in Rizal, many livestock animals like carabaos died. Even areas where vegetables are planted were ruined,” Lapida said.
“Instead of relief goods, we are hoping to get seedlings for the farmers who were heavily affected by the destructive flood that accompanied Ondoy,” he said.
This was the same sentiment that San Mateo resident Cristobal shared with Bulatlat. On Sunday, she came to see what was left of her house. And her heart sank when she saw that the floor was the only thing that remained.
“Once the people return to their homes, relief goods will also stop,” Cristobal said. “What we need is a source of livelihood so that we can start our lives all over again.” (Bulatlat.com)