El Niño in the Philippines 8 Things You Should KnowEl Niño in the Philippines: 8 Things You Should Know

by Abu Poblete


2015 was the hottest year ever recorded according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This explains all those hot commutes and sweaty commuters you had to suffer through on your way to and from work. But the long-time effects of the increasing temperature are way worse than the daily heat. Places outside Metro Manila, especially areas with sprawling farmlands and water reservoirs are getting the worst of it because of the El Niño. Power plants have started rationing, farmers are losing assets, and some cities’ export percentage are slowly and continually declining. And the El Nino will continue on until the end of the first quarter of 2016.

The haze in Indonesia that reached the Philippines, the crazy blizzard in the US and the alarming temperature drop in Thailand and Taiwan—all of these are messages from the Earth telling us to just look up and figure out that all of these people dying and suffering are because of human activity.

The Philippines might be next, and here are 8 signs why. So unless you’re Donald Trump who believes that global warming and climate change is a hoax, don’t read on because you’re just going to get pissed.

8. Metro Manila

Vehicles pile up near the Balintawak toll plaza going to Manila, April 6, 2015, as thousands go back to their normal activities after a long Holy Week break. (MArk Balmores)

In the capital of the country, the highest recorded temperature reached 36.4 degrees on May 2015 due because of the El Niño phenomenon. Metro Manila’s commuters will have to suffer through the next three months with the tag team of El Niño’s heat and the stress from the metro’s traffic breakdown.

7. Zamboanga

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If you think the heat in Manila is bad, think of the people in Zamboanga who had to place their city under a state of calamity at the start of the new year. With the recommendation of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), the city government was allowed to release calamity funds for the worsening effects of the El Niño.

The CDRRMC sought the need of the declaration because of the affected 587 hectares of farmland and the P10.8 million damage to the city’s agriculture.

6. North Cotabato

A member of a Greenpeace expedition team wades through a cornfield badly affected by a severe drought that has hit the Southern Philippines town of Surallah,North Cotabato. Greenpeace linked rising global temperatures and climate change to the onset of one of the worst droughts to have struck the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia in recent memory. Scientists from NASA recently warned that a weak El Nino combined with the impact of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels such coal could make 2005 the hottest year since global temperature was recorded in the 1800s. Copyright © Greenpeace/Enrique Soriano-Silverlens

North Cotabato was declared in a state of calamity just weeks after Zamboanga. Their records show that about  28,000 hectares of rice and crops amounting to P238 million were damaged because of rat infestation and the drought brought about by the El Niño.

Cloud seeding is the solution the government sees to mitigate the effect of the El Niño, but an initial P4 million is required for this to take effect.

The drought pushed the water level down and caused their local water utility to ration their water for 12 hours.

5. Lanao del Sur

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Just last week, the National Power Corporation (NPC) addressed the low water inflow of Lake Lanao because of the El Niño.

The fast declining water elevation of Lake Lanao pushed the NPC to go into a conservation mode by reducing the outflow and discharge of water from the lake which will consequently reduce the total generation of the Agus hydropower electric plant complex, NPC President and CEO Ma. Gladys Cruz Sta. Rita said.

Also because of the El Niño, Lanao Del Sur suffered from grass fires in Mt. Piagayungan. Luckily, the fire didn’t bring any harm to the community’s residents.

4. Davao

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The city of presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte has not been spared from the onslaught of the El Niño phenomenon. Just this month, the phenomenon caused the lack of power supply, the shutdown and reduced capacity of hydro power plants, a 39.8% decrease in products for export, and a 7.3% decline in palay and 21.4% in corn (21.4%) production.

El Niño won’t be leaving the country soon, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has identified it as a major challenge for the region. This is why the local government is said to allot P60 million from the their calamity fund for the mitigation of the effects of El Niño to Davao.

We hope to see irrigation facilities, cloud seeding, repair of dams and other rehabilitation projects in the near future.

3. Banaue Rice Terraces

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Even the great Banaue Rice Terraces has reached its limits for years now, and the El Niño isn’t really helping. The Rice Terraces’ listing as a UNESCO Heritage site is already being threatened by a seven-story parking building planned to be constructed right beside it, a lack of farmers, and giant worms attacking the crops. El Niño drought won’t be helping the site’s survival.

2. Latest Solutions

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Cloud seeding, rationing of water and electric supply, the release of calamity funds, and even the usage of a drought-resistant rice variety are already underway, but the these temporary solutions are not enough to compensate for the loss of millions of pesos worth of property and produce.

1. Future Plans

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The Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) is already planning to tap other power sources besides their hydro-power facilities.  They’re eyeing fuel-fed power plants and other power corporations to supply the high power demand of the region.

From the P3 trillion budget this year, President Noynoy Aquino has allotted a total of P19 billion to address the effects of the El Niño to the country. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said that many provinces will be threatened by the drought even more when El Niño reaches its peak around March, April and May, He said that they are already programming themselves to expect the worst to happen for a much faster and detailed response.

How is the El Niño affecting your area? Share your story with us in the comments below!

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