They say Filipinos are very resilient. Every year, especially during the rainy season, we see memes, posters, and photos of Filipinos swimming in flooded streets with words “Baha ka lang, Pinoy kami!” (That’s just flood, we’re Filipinos), or of people smiling after a typhoon with the caption “Filipinos are resilient”. And this so-called resiliency is apparent in most underprivileged areas in the Philippines. Barangay Bagumbayan in Taguig City, one of our project’s three main areas, is no exception.
Barangay Bagumbayan is a small town in Taguig City with approximately 30,000 residents. Most of the houses were built inches apart from each other and so the risk of fire is very high. It’s very upsetting to see the towering buildings and factories of Bonifacio Global City, from Nanay Leizl’s (one of our key informants in Taguig), tiny house.
While walking around the barangay, I saw residents enjoying themselves, and going about their daily lives under thin blue water pipes, which were elevated and constructed slightly above live wires of electricity. Vehicles and residents passed by permanently flooded roads, which reeked of trash, and stagnant water. And members of the barangay were at risk of becoming targets of the current administration’s war on drugs as seen on PNP’s signage outside the barangay hall.
Most Filipinos grew up thinking of band-aid solutions to problems brought about by poor urban planning and implementation and say Bahala na! (Come what may), laugh it off, and move on because we were made, and constantly being made to believe, by our government, that there’s nothing we can do to improve our lives.
I’ve always been frustrated, and at the same time guilty of using this kind of reasoning, because it’s giving up control over our lives and leaving our fate to external powers. Until when will people in places like Barangay Bagumbayan live in constant fear of losing their homes, lives, and sources of living?
One of the things that continue to give me hope, is learning that organizations like Barangay Bagumbayan’s rescue team still exists. Sir Dan and Ms. Rose (aka Ms. Superwoman Rescuer), Rescue Team Heads, continue to provide assistance to those in need. I was amazed to hear them talk about their advocacies, see them in action, and witness how they relate to other people. I was also pleasantly surprised that the spirit of bayanihan is very much alive in Barangay Bagumbayan— among officials of the barangay’s rescue team and the members of the Disaster Preparedness Committee. During the interview, I listened to DPC members talk about their various experiences during disasters and how they were able to power through. What struck me the most was hearing Nanay Cora talk about her efforts in uplifting the morale of female victims of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse.
Here’s a short documentary film about our experiences in Barangay Bagumbayan: