Voices of Manila Bay

Manila Bay is strategically located and used to facilitate commerce and trade with other neighboring countries. In its heyday, the bay was known for clean and blue water where people could fish and children could play along the shore. It also used to be filled with mangroves, thus capable of protecting the shore from big waves. Today, however, Manila Bay has become quite the opposite as it is mostly known for intense pollution and unsanitary water.

Due to the increasing population, many of the urban poor communities live in or near the coastal areas. Because these vulnerable populations have limited resources, many people cram into these areas and result to high-risk living conditions with the general housing of community made of only lightweight materials.

The Malabon-Navotas-Tullahan-Tinajeros or MANATUTI River System is one of the three river groups draining into Manila Bay. MANTUTI has been classified as a dead river and can no longer sustain forms of life which affect the quality of life of the fisherfolk near these bodies of water. They have to travel to distant waters in order to catch fish, hence increasing their expenses and reducing income. Aside from this, the communities who reside in areas, such as those by Manila Bay or its comprising river systems (usually informal settlers) are most prone to flooding, fire, storm surges, liquefactions, and earthquakes which are expected to be intensified in the next five to ten years due to climate change.

The Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program is simultaneously ongoing with the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan which is a joint effort of the Philippine government and the Netherlands Government. The latter serves as more of a guide on how future plans for Manila Bay will be carried out, however it is a mere guide that does not have the teeth to enforce its provisions. This is where Partners for Resilience (PfR) steps in. PfR aims to harmonize the process of planning, particularly since one main challenge of large areas such as Manila is that there are simply too many plans.

In Voices of Manila Bay, resilience-building efforts for not only the local government unit officials, but also of the community members themselves through joint and inclusive initiatives and platforms are featured. Through PfR, people from these communities, as well as members of the local government were given an opportunity to create consultations and discussions about their natural environment, their surroundings, their vulnerabilities, and their capacities in order to form a stronger mindset and clearer perspective on the situation. Eventually, this was able to inform the plans and decisions they made for community resilience.

Without PfR, many of the small but most vulnerable communities would not have any idea that there is an ongoing planning and development process for Manila Bay. Therefore, they would not have a chance to share their grievances, inputs, and aspirations about what they want for Manila Bay as the most affected population.

As a whole, this film aims to encourage a dialogue around the participation of communities and local stakeholders in large infrastructure development projects.


To see the full film, please watch the video below.