In the years before large-scale development of Metropolitan Manila, the Pasig River was compared to the Grand Canal of Venice as it “serpented” inland, framed on both banks by patches of lush greenery and its water clear and unimpeded by waste or debris. However, migration combined with high population growth resulted in an unparalleled explosion in the size of Metropolitan Manila. The failure of the metropolis’ pollution-control mechanisms to keep pace with this population expansion has seen Pasig River become a large dumping ground for garbage, sewerage and industrial pollution.
The Pasig River is now one of the polluted river in the Philippines. In the 1990’s its water was characterized as dark, murky and foul; and its banks proliferated by industries discharging untreated wastewater and informal settlers living in stilts and makeshift houses using the river as their toilet and garbage dump. The Pasig River winds generally north-westward for some 25 kilometres (15. 5 mi) from the Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, to Manila Bay, in the southern part of the island of Luzon. From the lake, the river runs between Taguig City, and Taytay, Rizal, before entering Pasig City.
This portion of the Pasig River, to the confluence with the Marikina River tributary, is known as the Napindan River or Napindan Channel. From there, the river forms the common border between Makati City to the south and Pasig City, followed by Mandaluyong City to the north. The river then sharply turns northeast, where it has become the border between Mandaluyong and Manila before turning again westward, joining its other major tributary, the San Juan River, and then following a sinuous path through the center of Manila before emptying into the bay.
The whole river and most portions of its tributaries lie entirely within Metro Manila, the metropolitan region of the capital. Isla de Convalescencia (14°35? 26? N 120°59? 20? E), the only island dividing the Pasig River, can be found in Manila and it is where the Hospicio de San Jose is located. One major river that drains Laguna de Bay is the Taguig River, which enters into Taguig before becoming the Pateros River; it is the border between the municipalities of Pateros and Makati City. Pateros River then enters the confluence where the Napindan Channel and Marikina River meet.
The Marikina River is the larger of the two major tributaries of the Pasig River, and it flows southward from the mountains of Rizal and cuts through the Marikina Valley. The San Juan River drains the plateau on which Quezon City stands; its major tributary is Diliman Creek. Within the city of Manila, various esteros (canals) criss-cross through the city and connect with the Tullahan River in the north and the Paranaque River to the west The growth of Manila along the banks of the Pasig River has made it a focal point for development and historical events.
The foremost landmark on the banks of the river is the walled district of Intramuros, located near the mouth of the river on its southern bank. It was built by the Spanish colonial government in the 16th century. Further upstream is the Hospicio de San Jose, an orphanage located on Pasig’s sole island, the Isla de Convalescencia. On the northern bank stands Malacanang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines. Also on Pasig River’s northern bank and within the Manila district of Sta. Mesa is the main campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
In Makati City, along the southern bank of Pasig, is the Sta. Ana Racetrack and the Rockwell Commercial Center, a high-end office and commercial area containing the Power Plant Mall. At the confluence of the Pasig and Marikina rivers is the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure, which regulates the flow of water from the Napindan Channel. The Pasig River is technically a tidal estuary, as the flow direction depends upon the water-level difference between Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay. During the dry season, the water level in Laguna de Bay is low and the flow direction of the Pasig River depends on the tides.
During the wet season, when the water level of Laguna de Bay is high, flow is normally from Laguna de Bay towards Manila Bay. The Pasig River is vulnerable to flooding in times of very heavy rainfall, with the Marikina River tributary the main source of the floodwater. The Manggahan Floodway was constructed to divert excess floodwater from the Marikina River into the Laguna de Bay, which serves as a temporary reservoir. By design, the Manggahan Floodway is capable of handling 2,400 cubic meters per second of water flow, although the actual flow is about 2,000 cubic meters per second.
To complement the floodway, the Napindan Hydraulic Control System (NHCS) was built in 1983 at the confluence of the Marikina River and the Napindan Channel to regulate the flow of water between the Pasig River and the lake. History Before the mass urbanization of Manila, the Pasig River served as an important means of transport; it was the city’s lifeline and center of economic activity. Some of the most prominent kingdoms in early Philippine history, including the kingdoms of Namayan, Maynila, and Tondo grew up along the banks of the river, drawing their life and source of wealth from it.
When the Spanish established Manila as the capital of their colonial properties in the Far East, they built the walled city of Intramuros on the southern bank of Pasig River near its mouth. After World War II, massive population growth, infrastructure construction, and the dispersal of economic activities to Manila’s suburbs left the river neglected.
The banks of the river attracted informal settlers and the remaining factories dumped their wastes into the river, making it effectively a huge sewer system. Industrialization had already polluted the river. 3] In the 1930s, observers noticed the increasing pollution of the river, as fish migration from Laguna de Bay diminished. People ceased using the river’s water for laundering in the 1960s, and ferry transport declined. By the 1970s, the river started to emanate offensive smells, and in the 1980s, fishing in the river was prohibited. By the 1990s, the Pasig River was considered biologically dead Rehabilitation and Relocation Efforts Rehabilitation efforts began in 1991 with the help of the Danish aid agency DANIDA.
The Asian Development Bank gave the government of the Philippines a loan of $200 million to implement a 15-year long slum upgrade program for Metro Manila which includes the rehabilitation of the Pasig River. This loan is under the conditions that the relocation and livelihoods of the illegal squatters have equal importance as the environmental aspect of the rehabilitation. The overall objective of the rehabilitation is to improve environmental management particularly with waste-water management and urban renewal.
There are even talks about using Laguna de Bay for drinking water to supply the growing population of Metro Manila, on the condition that the river and surrounding waterways are cleaned and kept clean. Plans are being implemented for a dike to be built at the entrance to the Pasig River at Laguna de Bay to keep flood waters out of the river during rainy season to prevent major areas of the city from flooding, but this is coming under great controversy as the people living around Laguna de Bay would have to deal with flooding.
Do to the fact that the majority of the people living on the edges of the river are illegal squatters, it is very difficult to monitor the amount of garbage of waste or to treat either of them. It is estimated that 65% of the waste flowing down the Pasig River is due to these illegal settlement villages. Philippine law states that the government has the legal right to relocate the people in these illegal settlements to 3m away from the shore of the river.
This is under controversy as the government wants people to be 10m away from the river’s edge to ensure that the river stays clean, to add a buffer zone against potential flooding, to create parks and walkways, and to allow access for ships and emergency services. This was officially changed during the Joseph Estrada administration when the Metro Manila Development Authority changed the law from 3m to 10m. This is under controversy as the MMDA does not have the authority to change a national law. During the administration of Fidel V.
Ramos, approximately 5000 families were relocated to the suburbs. There are approximately 700,000-750,000 people are are being affected by the relocation of illegal settlements along the Pasig River. This includes people that are being relocated away from the shores of Laguna de Bay, the Pasig River, and all of its tributaries. Around 10,000 illegal settlers will be relocated to Calauan, Philippines, which is on the southern shore of Laguna de Bay. They will be relocated into an environmentally friendly housing project. Many others are being relocated to Bulacan, Rodriguez, and Montalban.
The main problem that the government is facing with the relocation of people is that a large number of the relocated people move back to Manila into a different shanty town due to the fact that they work in Manila and it is hard to find work in many other places on Luzon. Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay stated “Aside from livelihood, there should be transportation assistance”. He is referring to having some sort of assisted transportation for these urban poor so that they can live in the suburbs but still work every day in Manila. The illegal squatters who received financial assistance received P24,240.
Those who have opted to be relocated or who have simply been forced to relocate by the government have been relocated to: 1. Kasiglahan Village I: Rodriguez, Rizal 2. Kasiglahan Village II: c5, Taguig City 3. Kasiglahan Village III: Trece Martires, Cavite 4. Kasiglahan Village IV & V: General Trias, Cavite 5. Villa San Isidro: Rodriguez, Rizal 6. Jaime Cardinal Sin Village: Sta. Ana, Manila Pasig River Ferry Service The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission was placed in charge of this attempt at implementing a ferry service down the Pasig River. Before the Pasig became as polluted as it is, ferries were common place on the river.
The last two attempts to bring in a ferry service were cut short due to too much garbage on the river, shanty towns, and foul odors. With the river being dredged, shanty towns being relocated away from the river, and other environmentally sustainable initiatives, these are now less of a problem for the ferry service. Ferry service was brought back into the Pasig River in 2007 under the management of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. It was to be operated by SCC Nautical Transport Services Inc. Six boats with capacity for 150 people, air conditioning, televisions, security, and washrooms were put into service.
This new service was the longest lasting ferry service down the Pasig in recent years and also had the longest route, with 14 stations lining the major hubs on the river. With fares ranging from P25 to P60 per trip and travel times cut in half for many, the ferry allowed many people to skip all of the congested streets of Manila. With less garbage, foul odors, shanty towns, and more environmental initiatives being implemented, river tour were also being conducted by SCC Nautical Transport Services Inc. It was not all smooth sailing for the latest attempt to implement a ferry service down the Pasig.
The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission oversaw all operations and built the ferry terminals, while SCC Nautical Transport Services Inc operated the ferry service and four of the terminals in Quiapo, Kalawaan, Bambang, and Nagpayong. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission received none of the profits from these stations and since these stations were the first four stations, the ferries were generally full by the time they arrived at the other ferry terminals.
The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission also only received only P5 of every ticket sold, leading them to loss P94. 7 million (Expenses: P101. 4 million; Revenue: P7. 33 million). Another problem that occurred was that SCC Nautical Transport Services Inc was supposed to implement 18 50-seat vessels and not 6 150-seat vessels. It was due to this that some of the stations along the route could not be used because the boats were too large to navigate. With river tours being operated, many scheduled trips had to be cancelled to accommodate the tours, causing many frustrated passengers to stop taking the ferry and causing passenger numbers to dwindle.
Before this, the passenger numbers were high enough that all ferries were full and SCC Nautical Transport Services Inc was considering purchasing more ferries. The ferry service ceased operations in 2011. Efforts to revive the river began in December 1989 with the help of Danish authorities. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Program (PRRP) was established, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as the main agency with the coordination of the Danish International Development Assistance.
In 1999, President Joseph Estrada signed Executive Order No. 4 establishing the PRRC to replace the old PRRP with additional expanded powers such as managing of wastes and resettling of squatters. This government agency was going to be squarely responsible for synergizing the efforts of the government and the private sector as far as improving the current state of the Pasig was concerned. Executive Order No. 54 dated January 6, 1999 as amended by Executive Order No. 65 dated January 19, 1999 created the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) to ensure that the waterway is rehabilitated to its pristine conditions conducive to transport, recreation and tourism.
The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission started its operation on January 1999 but actual disbursement of funds started only on May of the same year. The Commission, which is attached to the Office of the President is composed of the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management as the Chairman, the Chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority as the Co-Chairman, and twelve members Secretaries and Heads or their representatives, from the Office of the Executive Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Public Works and Highways,
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, Department of Tourism, Department of Transportation and Communication, Department of Finance, Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Trade and Industry and five private sectors namely, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, GMA Network, Inc. , Clean and Green Foundation, Inc. , Unilever Philippines and Ms. Mikaela Maria Antonia C. Jaworski.
As of December 31, 2001, PRRC had the personnel complement of 35. Among the powers and functions of the Commission are: 1. Draw up an updated master plan on the rehabilitation of the Pasig River, taking into account its potential for transportation, recreation and tourism; 2. Ensure that the easements provided in the Civil Code and other related laws are observed including all the esteros and waterways that drain into the Pasig River; 3.
Integrate and coordinate all programs related to the rehabilitation of the Pasig River, such as, but not limited to the Pasig River Development Program (P. D. 274), Proclamation No. 704, series of 1995 and the Pasig River Environment and Rehabilitation Sector Development Program, a continuation of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Program; 4. Abate the dumping of untreated industrial wastewater and sewerage into the river including all acts and omission in violation of the Pollution Control Law and other related laws; 5.
Relocate settlers, squatters and other unauthorized or unlawful occupants along its banks; 6. Undertake civil works for the purpose, such as dredging, clearing of structures, cleaning of the River and all esteros and waterways that drain into it. As of the present, the river has been becoming more and more popular as a means of transport from one side of the metro to the other. The ferry system is once again running smoothly and is even being made into a tourism draw.
There have been also lots of clearing operations meant to remove the unwanted illegal settlers who live on the Pasig River’s banks. The river still remains to be dead in terms of its ability to sustain most types of animal and plant life, but it seems like things are going on the upside. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission is already showing their hard work through photos available on their official website. The commission is not only concerned with the river itself – they have also invested in making the banks of the river more pleasant.