NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
It is water world out here, where paved barangay roads are under at least knee-deep sea waters, the community basketball court waist deep and the living rooms of houses submerged in tidal waters or sea surges.
For those who could afford, they have elevated their houses to escape from the wet scourge.
For the ordinary islanders, some temporary ledges in their houses are enough to safekeep and keep some of their things high and dry.
The barangay roads here have been elevated in the last eight years now, but even then, the tide keeps coming especially between May to August.
Everything has been a palliative solution, unless we could come up with a relocation site for the people in these barangays, shared Tubigon Mayor William R. Jao, during the Network Briefing News which featured his town on a national broadcast.
It was after the 2013 earthquake in Bohol when the islands in the northwestern side of Bohol sunk nearly a meter, while it also uplifted about a meter high some portions of Bohol.
In Tubigon, the people in the islands off the mainland: Ubay, Bilangbilangan, Batasan and Panggapasan, have been constantly on guard every time the high tide comes and especially when foul weather aggravates it.
During the monsoon seasons and the occasional storms, the waves would come and wash on the houses that a breakwater to protect the community also happens to be among the temporary solutions, Jao, who is an has an extensive in experience as an engineer abroad said.
The situation is desperate, and due to overpopulation in the island, we have seen at least four families in one house, because the island has run out of dry space to build more houses.
“We have even elevated the schools, to make sure that the kids are dry, but even then, going to their classes then before the pandemic was horrific,” shares a parent whose eldest son is into kindergarten.
We could not afford to leave them in school as they might skip class and wade home, it can be dangerous, he continued.
There are three things we can do or the residents of the islands, the mayor told Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar, during the radio show.
Relocation, adaptation and reclamation, he enumerated.
As for adaptation, we have done it, we elevated the roads, raised the schools and put up break waters, and as for reclamation, it may be done, but the more logical solution is relocation, the mayor seeking a new mandate said.
The local government has a 2 hectare property, where some 400 low cost houses could be built, the mayor said.
But funding by converting the relocation site into a livable community is a gigantic challenge, according to the mayor.
On this, he asks the PCOO to help his torn in getting the National Housing Authority (NHA), National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), the Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as the Department of Public Works and Highways to help fund the project.
The mayor said they wish to put up the lot as a counterpart and for government agencies to help them build the relocation site community.
And while the kids in the submerged islands await to wade back to their schools, some people aired their intention to move to the mainland, if only there is a land they could occupy and own.
And while kayaks sometimes ply their submerged roads, with face to face classes now becoming a reality soon, parents are asking if they can get a better and safer school, away from the constant threat of the water. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)