Danica Martinez, 16, grew up in a house that grows taller every few years.
Her father raises the stilts of their bamboo hut so water from the sea does not reach the floor. They live in Sitio Pariahan, a coastal village in the Philippines that was once an island and is now without land.
Sitio Pariahan, about 17km north of Manila, is sinking about 4cm every year, owing largely to land subsidence from the population’s overuse of groundwater, according to experts.
Now rising sea levels caused by global warming could soon make this village unlivable, a problem faced by other countries in Asia, where the poorest communities are hardest hit.
A deep well is the only source of water, and residents use it to bathe, clean, cook and, sometimes, even to drink.
Solar panels are installed on many rooftops for electricity, mostly to watch television that is shared between neighbors. On days that power is low, residents pass the time by gambling.
Martinez remembers that their village was not always like this. She recalls basketball tournaments and grand feasts that their community once held, so popular that visitors from nearby towns would flock to watch performances and celebrate mass at the church.
The court is now fully submerged, and the church that was once filled with devotees is stained with moss.
Much of the destruction happened when Typhoon Nesat struck in 2011, bringing waves Martinez said were as big as houses.
She saw how the huts were pulled into the sea, one by one, as she and her siblings held onto bamboo poles. Their school was also destroyed and left only with walls. More than 50 families left and never returned.
Now, Martinez and her siblings take a 30-minute boat ride to school, sometimes with uniforms drenched by big waves.
“It seems scary to look at, but you get used to living like this. It’s difficult, but also fun,” she said.
Her parents rely on their boat to make a living.
“Without a boat, you are paralyzed,” said her mother, Mary Jane Martinez, who sells crabs her husband catches to the town’s market. She said life in the village was getting harder day by day, but she still preferred it to the city.
“If you work hard here, you will survive. You only have to jump on the sea to catch food. In land, you can work hard and still not have enough,” she said.
Her husband, Domingo, said leaving was not an option, because there is nowhere to go. They once tried to rent an apartment in a nearby town, but moved back shortly after.
“Our livelihood is here,” he said. “If we are asked to move inland, it would be difficult to make a living. What if we become beggars there?”
Fernando Siringan, a climate change expert, has studied Sitio Pariahan closely and said some delta areas north of Manila were changing rapidly because land was subsiding and water levels rising at the same time.
“What is being projected 50 years from now or 100 years from now for many parts of the globe is actually happening right now at even faster rates,” he said.
A UN climate change summit is to be held in Madrid from tomorrow until Dec. 13, and with wildfires in the US and Australia, and severe flooding in Europe all being linked to global warming, pressure is rising on national governments to find urgent solutions.
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable