Philippine Submerged Settlement Resurfaces Amid Drought Conditions

asmaa - | World News

Nestled amidst the Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija, Philippines, the relics offer a fascinating glimpse into history, resurfacing as the region grapples with scorching temperatures due to a prolonged drought.

Constructed in the 1970s, the dam submerged a centuries-old settlement, only to reveal it intermittently as water levels receded during dry spells.

Marlon Paladin, a supervising engineer, notes that recent months of scant rainfall have led to the emergence of remnants like parts of a church, municipal hall markers, and tombstones. According to Paladin, this is the sixth time the nearly three-century-old settlement has appeared since the dam's inception, with the current event being the longest.

The decline in the reservoir's water level, now almost 50 meters below its usual peak, reflects the severity of the drought, exacerbated by the El Niño weather pattern. Amidst these conditions, tourist interest in the exposed ruins has surged, with visitors paying fishermen for boat rides to the temporary island amidst the reservoir.

Residents, like Nely Villena, frequent viewing platforms to witness the ruins firsthand, cherishing the rare opportunity presented by the low water levels. However, the extreme heat, with temperatures soaring to around 37 degrees Celsius, poses challenges, prompting authorities to issue warnings about the dangers of heat-related illnesses.

For some, like Melanie Dela Cruz, the emergence of the ruins stirs nostalgia and longing for a bygone era when her family inhabited the now-submerged village. Despite the sentimental attachment, she acknowledges the pressing need for rain, which is essential for sustaining agriculture in the region.

The decreasing water levels have an impact not only on tourism and sentimentality, but they also disrupt vital services. Hydropower plants have ceased operations prematurely, and rice farmers are facing water shortages, forcing them to switch to less water-intensive crops like vegetables.

As Dela Cruz reflects on her old home disappearing once again beneath rising waters, her prayers for rain echo the collective hope for relief from the drought's grip, underscoring the delicate balance between heritage, livelihoods, and the unpredictable forces of nature.

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