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The Esteros and Manila’s Postwar Remaking

Part of the Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History book series (PSWEH)

Abstract

The Second World War transformed Manila from the so-called Venice of the East to the Warsaw of Asia. However, historicizing the impact of the war on the city should go beyond the physical devastation it caused. This chapter investigates the long-term effects of the war on Manila’s urban fabric and its environmental repercussions. It focuses on the acute housing shortage and the shift from water- to land-based transport modes. The chapter argues that Manila’s esteros (estuarial creeks) serve as an index of the effects the war had on the city’s ecology. The emergence of estero communities and the consequent environmental costs showed the struggles of low-income Manila residents in facing the uncertainties of the postwar era and uncovered the city’s grossly unequal socioeconomic structure.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-17439-2_12
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Notes

  1. 1.

    This chapter is based on a research project funded by the Commission on Higher Education-Philippine Higher Education Research Network (CHED-PHERNET). I also want to thank Leo Angelo Nery for his assistance in this project.

  2. 2.

    Charles H. Storms, “The Esteros of Manila,” The Philippine Craftsman 3, no. 2 (1914): 97–108.

  3. 3.

    Xavier Huetz de Lemps, “Waters in Nineteenth Century Manila,” Philippine Studies 49, no. 4 (2001): 488–517, esp. p. 495.

  4. 4.

    William E. Reynolds and Evelyn J. Caballero, “The Changes through Time in Quiapo’s Esteros,” in Fernando Nakpil Zialcita, ed., Quiapo: Heart of Manila (Quezon City: Cultural Heritage Studies Program, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ateneo de Manila University and Metropolitan Museum of Manila, 2006), 70–95.

  5. 5.

    Beryl Hughes, “Manila’s Gondolas and Gondoliers,” American Chamber of Commerce Journal 6, no. 4 (1931): 7.

  6. 6.

    Daniel F. Doeppers, Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850–1945 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2016), 254–256.

  7. 7.

    Huetz de Lemps, “Waters in Nineteenth Century Manila”; Reynolds and Caballero, “The Changes through Time,” 76.

  8. 8.

    Rolando B. Mactal, Kalusugang pampubliko sa kolonyal na Maynila (1898–1918): Heograpiya, medisina, kasaysayan [Public Health in Colonial Manila (1898–1918): Geography, Medicine, History] (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2009), 156–157. The Philippine–American War began in 1899 and officially ended in 1902, although guerrilla warfare continued to disturb the environs of Manila until 1910. Although Manila did not directly experience war-related armed encounters, its residents felt the war’s effects through the ecological disruptions caused by the conflict. For example, scholars have noted the role the war played in the outbreak of rinderpest and malaria, coeval catastrophes that negatively affected Manila’s food supplies and public health situation, Doeppers, Feeding Manila, 233–234.

  9. 9.

    US Philippine Commission, Annual Report of the Philippine Commission, part 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901), 29, 52.

  10. 10.

    Municipal Board of Manila, Annual Report of the Municipal Board of the City of Manila for the Fiscal Year 1909 (Manila: Bureau of Public Printing, 1910), 73.

  11. 11.

    J. R. McNeill, “Introduction: Environmental and Economic Management,” in Alfred W. McCoy and Francisco A. Scarano, eds., Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2010), 475–478. Quote in p. 475.

  12. 12.

    Dean Worcester, A History of Asiatic Cholera in the Philippine Islands (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1909), 83; I. V. Mallari, “Our Esteros,” in Office of the Mayor [City of Manila], City Gazette: Published Fortnightly by the Office of the Mayor of the City of Manila 2, no. 5, 1 March (Manila: Office of the Mayor, 1943), 168.

  13. 13.

    New York Times, “Manila No Longer Venice of Orient,” 5 July 1931: 38. Online, https://www.nytimes.com/1931/07/05/archives/manila-no-longer-venice-of-orient-twelve-canals-in-heart-of-city.html, accessed 26 Mar. 2018.

  14. 14.

    Mallari, “Our Esteros,” 168.

  15. 15.

    Daniel Burnham and Peirce Anderson, “Report on Proposed Improvements at Manila,” in US Philippine Commission, Sixth Annual Report of the Philippine Commission, 1905, part 1 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 627–635.

  16. 16.

    Leonardo Q. Liongson, “The Esteros of Manila: Urban Drainage a Century Since,” in Pressures of Urbanization: Flood Control and Drainage in Metro Manila, ed. Leonardo Q. Liongson, Guillermo Q. Tabios III, and Peter P. M. Castro (Quezon City: University of the Philippines, Center for Integrative and Development Studies, 2000), 1–16.

  17. 17.

    Reynolds and Caballero, “The Changes through Time,” 79–85.

  18. 18.

    Mallari, “Our Esteros,” 168. Cf. Felix Roxas, The World of Felix Roxas: Anecdotes and Reminiscences of a Manila Newspaper Columnist, 1926–36, trans. Angel Estrada and Vicente del Carmen (Manila: Filipiniana Book Guild, 1970), 260, 269; Alejo Aquino, “Esteros in Manila,” in Office of the Mayor [City of Manila], City Gazette: Published Fortnightly by the Office of the Mayor of the City of Manila 2, no. 5, 1 March (Manila: Office of the Mayor, 1943): 165–167.

  19. 19.

    Manuel L. Quezon, Messages of the President, vol. 4, part 1 (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1939), 270–271.

  20. 20.

    For the most authoritative secondary sources on the Philippines under Japan, see, for example, Teodoro A. Agoncillo, The Fateful Years: Japan’s Adventure in the Philippines, 1941–45, 2nd ed., vols. 1 and 2 (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2001); A. V. H. Hartendorp, The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, vols. 1 and 2 (Manila: Bookmark, 1967); Thelma Kintanar, Clemen C. Aquino, Patricia B. Arinto, and Ma. Luisa T. Camagay, Kuwentong Bayan: Noong Panahon ng Hapon (Everyday Life in a Time of War) (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2006).

  21. 21.

    Doeppers, Feeding Manila , 307–330.

  22. 22.

    Hartendorp, The Japanese Occupation, vol. 1, 192.

  23. 23.

    Agoncillo, The Fateful Years, vol. 2, 512.

  24. 24.

    Joaquín L. García, It Took Four Years for the Rising Sun to Set (1941–1945): Recollections of an Unforgettable Ordeal (Manila: De La Salle University Press, 2001), 37.

  25. 25.

    Kintanar, et al., Kuwentong Bayan, 150–162.

  26. 26.

    Aquino, “Esteros in Manila,” 166.

  27. 27.

    Ibid., 166.

  28. 28.

    Ibid., 167.

  29. 29.

    Mallari, “Our Esteros,” 168.

  30. 30.

    Ibid., 168.

  31. 31.

    Bureau of Public Works (BPW), Plan for the Drainage of Manila and Suburbs, vol. I (Manila: Bureau of Public Works, 1952), 1.

  32. 32.

    García, It Took Four Years, 65; Gladys Savary, Outside the Walls (New York: Vantage, 1954), 106; Benito J. Legarda Jr., Occupation: The Later Years (Manila: De La Salle University Press, 2007), 44.

  33. 33.

    “Normal Water Supply for City Assured,” Tribune, 18 Nov. 1943: 1; “Laurel Tours Area Affected by Flood,” 19 Nov. 1943: 1, 6; Legarda, Occupation, 43.

  34. 34.

    Marcial P. Lichauco, “Dear Mother Putnam”: A Diary of the War in the Philippines (Manila: n.p., 1949), 140.

  35. 35.

    Legarda, Occupation, 43.

  36. 36.

    A. V. H. Hartendorp, The Santo Tomas Story (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964), 189–191; A. V. H. Hartendorp, The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines , vol. 2 (Manila: Bookmark, 1967), 28–30.

  37. 37.

    Gerard Lico and Lorelei D. C. de Viana, Regulating Colonial Spaces (1565–1944): A Collection of Laws, Decrees, Proclamations, Ordinances, Orders and Directives on Architecture and the Built Environment during the Colonial Eras in the Philippines (Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2017), 357–358.

  38. 38.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila , vol. I, 1; Black & Veatch International Consulting Engineers, Master Plan for a Sewerage System for the Manila Metropolitan Area: Final Report (Manila: Black & Veatch, 1969), 10-8.

  39. 39.

    Alfonso J. Aluit, By Sword and Fire : The Destruction of Manila in World War II, 3 February – 3 March 1945 (Makati City: Bookmark, 1994), 398–399.

  40. 40.

    Ibid.; Jose Ma. Bonifacio M. Escoda, Warsaw of Asia: The Rape of Manila (Quezon City: Giraffe, 2000).

  41. 41.

    Aluit, By Sword and Fire , 227, 249–50, 365, 399.

  42. 42.

    Escoda, Warsaw of Asia, 224–226.

  43. 43.

    “Can Manila Clean Up?,” Manila Times, 27 Sept. 1947: 28–29.

  44. 44.

    Sergio Osmeña, Ten Months of President Osmeña’s Administration: A Review of Work Done under Unprecedented Difficulties (n.p.: n.p., n.d.), 14.

  45. 45.

    Lyd Arguilla, “Pattern of a Modern City,” Manila Times, 19 Sept. 1945.

  46. 46.

    Renato Arevalo, “Out of the Ruins,” Manila Times, 10 June 1945: 6.

  47. 47.

    Jorge B. Vargas, City and National–Regional Planning in the Philippines: Its Nature, Problems, 7 Mar. 1953, p. 1 (Unpublished manuscript, Jorge B. Vargas Papers, SG: National Planning Commission, Folder 2, Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, Quezon City).

  48. 48.

    “Beautiful, Modern Manila to Rise from Ruins of Old, States Croft,” Manila Times, 1 Oct. 1945: 1, 4.

  49. 49.

    Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 238–245.

  50. 50.

    Louis P. Croft, General Plan of Major Thoroughfares, Metropolitan Manila: Preliminary Report Prepared by the President’s Office on City Planning, 13 June 1945, pp. 5–10 (Unpublished manuscript available at the American Historical Collection, Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City).

  51. 51.

    Arevalo, “Out of the Ruins,” 6.

  52. 52.

    I. V. Mallari, “That Kind of a City,” Manila Times, 18 Nov. 1945: 6.

  53. 53.

    Louis P. Croft, “Present Status of the City Planning Program,” American Chamber of Commerce Journal 23, no. 8, (1947): 264–266, 291–294.

  54. 54.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila , 52.

  55. 55.

    “Meralco Will Import More Busses for P.I.,” 15 Sept. 1945: 4.

  56. 56.

    Osmeña, Ten Months, 14.

  57. 57.

    “City Conditions Greatly Improved, Survey Shows,” Manila Times, 22 July 1945: 5; Bernardino Ronquillo, “Cost of Living in City Six Times More Than Pre-War, Survey Shows,” Manila Times, 22 Dec. 1945: 1, 16.

  58. 58.

    Delfin Ferrer Gamboa, “I Live in a Barong-Barong,” Philippines Free Press, 8 Mar. 1947: 22–23.

  59. 59.

    Charles Abrams and Otto Koenigsberger, A Housing Program for the Philippine Islands, 16 (Unpublished report prepared for the United Nations Technical Assistance Administration, 14 January 1959, available at the School of Urban and Regional Planning Library, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City).

  60. 60.

    Leon O. Ty, “Many of Our Countrymen Are Homeless,” Philippines Free Press, 18 Sept. 1947: 4–5, 49.

  61. 61.

    G. Viola Fernando, House Bill no. 2798, Submitted during the Third Session of the Second Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, [1953?], 1 (Unpublished manuscript, Jorge B. Vargas Papers, SG: National Planning Commission, Folder 2, Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Resource Center, Quezon City).

  62. 62.

    Filemon V. Tutay, “Squatter Trouble,” Philippines Free Press, 3 May 1952: 6–7, 27, 50. Quote in p. 27.

  63. 63.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila , vol. I, 54.

  64. 64.

    “Can Manila Clean Up?,” 28–29.

  65. 65.

    Tutay, “Squatter Trouble,” 27.

  66. 66.

    C. V. Pedroche, “Slums Can Be Licked,” Sunday Times Magazine, 27 Oct. 1946: 6–7.

  67. 67.

    Fernando, House Bill no. 2798, 1.

  68. 68.

    Leon O. Ty, “The Case of the Common Tao,” Philippines Free Press, 29 May 1948: 2–3.

  69. 69.

    Ibid., 3.

  70. 70.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila and Suburbs, vol. II (Manila: Bureau of Public Works, 1952), 275; Greg Bankoff, Cultures of Disaster: Society and Natural Hazards in the Philippines (London; New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003). It was also likely that the drive toward immediate reconstruction after the war played a role in the rampant deforestation and quarrying activities in Manila’s immediate hinterland. However, further research is needed to verify and measure the extent of this causal link.

  71. 71.

    Doeppers, Feeding Manila , 175.

  72. 72.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila , vol. II, 292.

  73. 73.

    Ibid., 269.

  74. 74.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila , vols. I and II.

  75. 75.

    C. M. Hoskins, “Drainage Plan for the Greater Manila Area,” American Chamber of Commerce Journal 28, no. 6 (1952): 219.

  76. 76.

    Marikina Project Coordinating Committee (MPCC), Report on Marikina River Multi-Purpose Project: Proposed Development Plan and Evaluation (Manila: National Economic Council, 1954).

  77. 77.

    A. A. Villanueva, “Memorandum of the Director of Public Works, 25 Apr. 1952,” in BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila and Suburbs, vol. II, Appendix, 1–5 (Manila: Bureau of Public Works, 1952), 4.

  78. 78.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila , vol. I, 52.

  79. 79.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila , vol. II, 266.

  80. 80.

    BPW, Plan for the Drainage of Manila , vol. I, 54.

  81. 81.

    Villanueva, “Memorandum of the Director,” 4.

  82. 82.

    Ibid., 3.

  83. 83.

    Ibid., 4.

  84. 84.

    City of Manila, Management and Planning Division, Manila City Government (Manila: Office of the Mayor, 1958), 5.

  85. 85.

    Tutay, “Squatter Trouble,” 7.

  86. 86.

    City of Manila, Manila City Government, 18.

  87. 87.

    City of Manila, City Government of Manila, 1952–55 (Manila: Office of the Mayor, [1955?]), 15.

  88. 88.

    Black & Veatch, Master Plan, 5-23.

  89. 89.

    Ibid., 5-20.

  90. 90.

    Ibid., 5-14–5-15.

  91. 91.

    Black & Veatch, Master Plan, 3-4.

  92. 92.

    Pedroche, “Slums Can Be Licked,” 14.

  93. 93.

    Black & Veatch, Master Plan, 5-21, 5-25.

  94. 94.

    Filemon V. Tutay, “Worst Flood in Years,” Philippines Free Press, 4 June 1960: 6–7, 42–43, 79. Quote in p. 6.

  95. 95.

    MPCC, Report on Marikina River, 22; Bankoff, Cultures of Disaster, 100–102.

  96. 96.

    Tutay, “Worst Flood in Years,” 6.

  97. 97.

    Leon O. Ty, “‘Why didn’t I also die?’” Philippines Free Press, 4 June 1960: 4, 77. Quote in p. 77.

  98. 98.

    Tutay, “Worst Flood in Years,” 79.

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Pante, M.D. (2019). The Esteros and Manila’s Postwar Remaking. In: Laakkonen, S., McNeill, J.R., Tucker, R.P., Vuorisalo, T. (eds) The Resilient City in World War II. Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17439-2_12

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