Watery woes call for sustainable solutions

By Herman M. Lagon

ILOILO CITY, a gem nestled in the heart of Western Visayas, is a place of rich history and vibrant culture. But beneath its picturesque facade lies a recurring problem that hampers its progress and disrupts the lives of its people: flooding. This age-old challenge, exacerbated by rapid urbanization and unpredictable weather patterns, has once again reared its head, reminding us of the urgent need for comprehensive and sustainable solutions.

The recent bout of flooding, triggered by heavy rains from the southwest monsoon and Typhoons Goring (Saola) and Hannah (Haikui), serves as a stark reminder of Iloilo City’s vulnerability to the forces of nature. Mayor Jerry Treñas aptly described the inundation as the “most severe” since 2008’s Typhoon Frank. The floodwaters, reaching as high as six feet in some areas, displaced thousands and wreaked havoc on homes and infrastructure. As a community bonded by the spirit of service and discernment, we must channel our collective efforts toward understanding the root causes of this problem and crafting viable solutions.

The geography of Iloilo City, with its proximity to waterways, has made it susceptible to flooding. The Jaro River, a meandering lifeline that brings life to the city, can also become a source of devastation. Rapid urbanization, though a testament to progress, has led to the growth of informal settlements along waterways, often in the most flood-prone areas. All 180 barangays in Iloilo City face the risk of flooding, and the recent disaster has shown that no corner is exempt from this threat. This challenges us to consider how we can harmonize urban development with nature’s rhythms.

One cornerstone of addressing this challenge is the ongoing flood control project. This initiative, aimed at enhancing drainage systems, renovating rivers, and constructing vital infrastructure, seeks to mitigate the impact of floods during the typhoon season. The spirit of collaboration is evident in the involvement of local organizations in planning the relocation component of the project. This sense of shared responsibility encourages us to leave no one behind.

However, it is not just physical infrastructure that needs our attention. The climate crisis and its unpredictable patterns demand a holistic approach. Sustainable urban planning, resilient infrastructure, and proper waste management are essential. Beyond that, our community must actively engage in tree planting, adopt proper waste disposal management, transition to renewable energy sources, and promote the development of larger drainage systems, pumping stations, and rainwater harvesting facilities. This aligns with the call of Pope Francis in “Laudato Si’“ for integral ecology, where human well-being and environmental health are intertwined.

Furthermore, the economic trajectory of Iloilo City and Western Visayas hinges on confronting this basic need for decent infrastructure. Connectivity, reliable water and electricity sources, and flood resilience are not mere luxuries; they are prerequisites for economic growth and social stability. Every step we take, whether in infrastructure development or environmental protection, should be guided by the principle of continuous improvement, urging us to always strive for the greater good.

The flooding issue in Iloilo City is not merely a recurring natural disaster; it is a call for action and transformation. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, sustainable urban planning, and a deep commitment to the well-being of all, we can forge a future where flooding is no longer a crippling concern. Let the pirit of discernment, empathy, and social justice guide us in finding innovative solutions that will protect our beloved city, preserve our cultural heritage, and uplift the lives of every Ilonggo.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.