As with most photographs taken through aircraft windows, the technical quality of this shot is not great, but I am posting it in the TE spirit of learning about the world through photography.
This is Laguna de Bay – the second largest inland lake in south-east Asia – which is located just to the south of Manila. It is nearly 1,000 sq kms in size, but is quite shallow (average depth is only two metres). This is the view that passengers sitting in row A will see as they fly into Manila if they are approaching the main runway from the north-east. Many people mistakenly think this is Manila Bay, but you will only see that if approaching from the other direction. The river in the bottom left of the frame leads into the Pasig River which eventually drains into Manila Bay.
You don’t see much written about Laguna de Bay in tourist guidebooks – from the air it doesn’t look like much is going on other than fish farming – so I did an Internet search for more information on Laguna de Bay.
I was shocked by what I found. There are hundreds of documents on the Internet about Laguna de Bay’s pollution problems – apparently tonnes of industrial, agricultural and human waste are discharged into Laguna de Bay every day – but what shocked me was that there doesn’t seem to be anything happening to stop the pollution or clean it up, as you would expect in most countries.
In fact, quite the opposite is happening. The local authorities apparently have a ‘user pays’ scheme for polluters (they call it an ‘Environmental User Fee System’ which was introduced in 1996 to “internalise the cost of environmental degradation”). Under this system, companies discharging waste products into the lake obtain an annual discharge permit and then pay a fee (which didn’t seem large to me) which varies depending on whether the discharge contains heavy metals or not (heavy metal discharges are those defined as containing metallic chemical elements that have a relatively high density and are toxic or poisonous at low concentrations e.g. mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, etc).
Surprisingly Laguna de Bay still supports quite a big fishing industry. The website worldlakes.org tells us what fish are produced in this entry:
“Native fish species include Manila catfish, freshwater eel, goby, Indonesian bard, common carp, Thai catfish and gowary” But then also notes: “Declining fish productivity, diminishing phytoplankton community composition, and high heavy metal levels in lake biota are all evidence of significant pollution and significant stressors on Laguna de Bay's aquatic life”.
The website also talks about “sewage flows freely through surface waters”.
So my Philippines travel tip for the day would be: next time you are in a fish restaurant in Manila – avoid the local catfish, eel, goby, bard, carp and gowary. It’s the one time that fish might not be good for your health.
Critiques | Translate
vinicio (23423) 2007-04-26 3:35
Excellent note David, you write important news about this lake and situation as you describe it is really bad, after read your note your image is great and with excellent quality, compliments.
stiginthedump (1823) 2007-04-26 4:16
Nice pic this, David. We are indeed learning something about the worls here. Interesting note as well. It's good that you included as much as you could in the frame to give us an idea of the scale of human presence and the pollution. I think that this area would make quite a nice travelogue. Did you visit Laguna Da Bay?
yoyostribe (172) 2007-04-26 5:06
sad to say that the local government is doing nothing about it....
nice picture and nice eye opener
Dieter (55) 2007-04-26 5:59
Greatfull enquiry and I realy like your image
cunejo200 (7281) 2007-04-26 7:51
I have seen this view (and taken photos) repeatedly from the past in my inter-island travel in the Philippines. It's a shame about the high degree of pollution in Laguna de Bay where everyone becomes a loser if something is not done about it. This is a good photojournalistic image. Best wishes - Danilo
pboehringer (770) 2007-04-26 13:54
Shocking note, David. I see that you survived well the alligator attack and hippo attacks in Africa, but this chemical warfare will probably take your life. I advice you not to eat any fish in Manila. I like your educational shot a lot.
kermit350 (9016) 2007-04-27 13:14
Hello David, here an image worthy of weather or any other official service of cartography, your explanatory note is extremely complete, at all events this image is of topicality, original, and not banal, and especially this photograph with the merit to make us reflect, to see of it the drift of human industry and the laxism of the great power, I profit to show to my child most beautiful place, because in some year, at the rate/rhythm or go the catastrophes, I doubt that it remains much of landscape that our little child will be able admires, sincerely
stego (24132) 2007-04-27 16:57
Actually I find it technically very good for a shot from an airplane and it's unusually nicely composed, with the river and the curve of the shoreline making it interesting graphically.
I got curious about the title, which I discovered that was much well chosen after reading your interesting note with all those sad news about the pollution. I must say that even never having heard about the lake, it was no surprise to know about the pollution (Manila = huge city in an under developed country => expect much environmental problems).
You are right about being full of TE spirit! Like most of your gallery!
TFS, Regards, José.
paura (47186) 2007-04-27 17:34
Nice shot here. The POV is really very interesting. Also the note. Very well done.
ChrisJ (111602) 2007-04-27 21:49
An intersting but disturbing note. Fantastic aerial overview of the lake & outlet river, with reasonable sharpness considering it was shot through a perplex window. Tfs!
capthaddock (28790) 2007-04-29 17:18
There is nothing wrong with the technical quality David, wait till you see my next one, which will be a much poorer aereal than this one, the geography, especially the multiple islands, is really eye catching, fantastic note also as usual.
Regards to travel yes, I had to change plans, Europe is next again, but the next trip (september-october) will definitely be Asia (the tropical leg will probably be Indonesia and not the Phillippines probably) Tibet and Nepal are the only certainty at this early stage.
riclopes (35577) 2007-04-30 15:56
Thanks for the note and advices, David. I'll try to remeber that, if I'll ever visit this country. This year will be China once again and since I only can visit one country a year...
Anyway, I'm allways thrilled with this kind of views and allways ask for a seat at the window, when flying. The world seems so diferent from up here...so little, so graphical. The quality is not the best, but the view is amazing and the composition is great. Fascinating!
rabani (9645) 2007-05-04 0:13
Hi David, it is good to know. The next time I find myself anywhere near this bay, being a vegetarian is suddenly a good thing to an omnivore like me. Thank you for the note. Sometimes you need Fleet Street material to survive a landscape nowadays.
plimrn (21344) 2007-05-06 23:39
Your title told me I had to open this photo; I believe that user pollution fee is a Bush-era Environmental 'Protection' Agency innovation. I'm guessing that some of those lovely frozen tiger shrimp that I have bought at Costco came from this lake. With the world-wide transfer of food, pollution everywhere is everone's problem. Last week thousands of pets were dying from polluted pet food from China; who knows who will die tomorrow?? In a sense, I appreciate the eglatarian nature of the suffering. When will we wake up?? HLJ, Pat