By Reynald Ramirez
Some 1,400 families in San Lorenzo Ruiz Village have navigated through gutter-deep floodwater for more than four years, the effect of new housing projects and road developments in surrounding communities.
Residents of San Lorenzo Ruiz Village Phase III in Taytay, Rizal have lived with a flooded road since 2014.
Emily Barran said the last time she walked along the 200-metre dry road was four years ago.
Barran said she wears rain boots to carry her two children to school every day, “I can’t let them go to school with wet socks”.
Residents have to balance themselves on a walkway as wide as a ruler to move around their village. Some residents volunteered to build the walkway for the community.
The water level in San Lorenzo Ruiz can be as high as four feet especially during typhoon season.
The village is a marshland and has the lowest elevation in Taytay, Rizal.
People in San Lorenzo Ruiz became the victims of progress when roads in surrounding barangays were elevated to deal with flooding. As well, rapid urbanization and housing projects are happening around the area.
Because of this, San Lorenzo Ruiz became the catch basin of water from the more elevated area.
Stagnant water from flooding creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos and can increase the transmission of communicable diseases such as malaria, leptospirosis and hepatitis said the World Health Organization.
“There are a lot of mosquitoes here in San Lorenzo especially at night,” said Barran.
Last year, eleven people were diagnosed with dengue in San Lorenzo Ruiz Village, said the Department of Health.
Residents suffer from athlete’s foot from wading in filthy floodwaters.
Barran has lost count how many times she has suffered from this fungal skin infection.
Flooded urban areas are also prone to bacterial infection like leptospirosis caused by exposure to rat urine.
The local government of San Juan under the leadership of then-Mayor Joseph Estrada moved some 2,000 informal settlers from the city to the 17-hectare land in San Lorenzo Ruiz in the mid-1980s.
Families living along the Pasig River were also moved there under the Proclamation 704 of Former President Fidel Ramos in 1995.
Families living in San Lorenzo Ruiz are part of Metro Manila’s urban poor population.
Barran said they remain in a flooded community because they are poor. “We were left with no choice.”
The local government of San Juan acquired the lot for their relocated residents in 1984.
San Lorenzo Ruiz is in Taytay, Rizal but the local government does not have jurisdiction in the area. The land title of San Lorenzo Ruiz has yet to be transferred from San Juan City to the local government of Taytay, Rizal.
San Juan City Legal Officer, Atty. Romualdo Delos Santos said the city government of San Juan is working to transfer the title by 2019.
Until that happens, Taytay Municipal Engineer, Ronaldo San Juan said no road elevation and drainage system projects in the village can begin.
San Juan said in anticipation of the land transfer, Taytay is working on the master plan for a drainage system and a road elevation project in San Lorenzo Ruiz Village.
Emily Barran and some members of the homeowners’ association started a petition to get the projects in the village fast-tracked and see the end to the flooded road outside their front doors.