Sitio Pariahan, about 17 km north of Manila, is sinking about 4 cm every year, owing largely to land subsidence from the population’s overuse of groundwater, according to experts.
Now rising sea levels caused by global warming could soon make this village unlivable, a problem faced by other countries in Asia, where the poorest communities are hardest hit.
A deep well is the only source of water and residents use it to bathe, clean, cook and sometimes, even to drink.
Solar panels are installed on many rooftops for electricity, mostly to watch television that’s shared between neighbours. On days that power is low, residents pass the time by gambling.
Much of the destruction happened when Typhoon Nesat struck in 2011, bringing waves as big as houses.
A school was destroyed and left only with walls. More than 50 families left and never returned.
Fernando Siringan, a climate change expert, has studied Sitio Pariahan closely and said some delta areas north of Manila were changing rapidly because land was subsiding and water levels rising at the same time.
“What is being projected 50 years from now or 100 years from now for many parts of the globe is actually happening right now at even faster rates,” he said.
A UN climate change summit will be held in Madrid from December 2-13, and with wildfire in the United States and Australia, and severe flooding in Europe all being linked to global warming, public pressure is rising on cost-conscious national governments to find urgent solutions.