Extreme Drought in Philippines Reveals Centuries-Old Town

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A centuries-old town emerged in the Philippines recently when a long drought dried up a dam.

Southeast Asia has been experiencing deadly extreme heat, causing school closures, work-from-home orders and withered crops.

The ruins of the town of Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija province have given local residents in the rice-growing region another income source from tourists coming to see the historic sight.

“When I heard about the sunken church of old Pantabangan town resurfacing, I got excited and wanted to see it,” said Aurea Delos Santos, a retired nurse in her early 60s, as Reuters reported.

Taking tourists to and from the island has boosted some locals’ earnings significantly.

“Back then, I was only earning 200 pesos ($3.50) from fishing, but when the tourists arrived, I’m earning 1,500 to 1,800 per day,” said Nelson Dellera, a local fisherman, as reported by Reuters.

The dam — constructed after the town was relocated during the 1970s to make way for a reservoir — is now the primary water and irrigation source for Nueva Ecija and other provinces in the area, the local government said, as The Guardian reported.

Water levels at the dam have fallen 85.3 feet already this year, revealing the foundations of the nearly 300-year-old town and portions of a church. The current level at Pantabangan dam is 23 feet lower than last year.

Marlon Paladin — a supervising engineer with the country’s National Irrigation Administration — told AFP that parts of the town started resurfacing in March following several months with “almost no rain.”

Pantabangan has reappeared five other times since the reservoir was created, but this was the longest Paladin had seen at one time.

The Philippines is one of the countries most at risk from climate change impacts, as its warm and dry season can bring drought and extreme sea surface temperatures, while the wet season can result in huge storms, including Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the country in 2013 and is known as one of the strongest ever recorded.

“The general impact of climate change on the Philippines is warmer temperatures. The heat that we are experiencing, it could steadily increase in the coming days,” Benison Estareja, a meteorologist with the state’s Pagasa weather bureau, told BBC News.

 

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Even the Jesus Good Shepherd School in the city of Imus, south of Manila — which has an air conditioner in every classroom, a rarity — sent students home last week, reported The New York Times.

“It is hard for the students and teachers alike to concentrate, because the air-con is struggling, too,” said Ana Marie Macarimbang, one of the school’s fifth-grade teachers who has been teaching for almost two decades. “We are in a tropical country, yes, but the heat now is more intense than I can remember.”

Global heating due to human-caused climate change is contributing to extreme weather all over the planet, including more deadly and frequent floods, heat waves, wildfires and supercharged storms.

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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