Save Our Sunset (S.O.S) Manila Bay

Saving the beautiful sunset on Manila Bay isn’t a simple matter of keeping Manila Bay the way it is right now.

If you’ve ever walked from Quirino Grandstand to the CCP Complex, you will pretty much figure out that this is where all the water and solid waste pollution from Manila ends up.

The Manila City Government has banned people from swimming in the bay and a number of national government agencies have warned people not to eat any fish or shellfish gathered from the bay.


This is because the waters of Manila Bay are highly polluted.

Just consider an article in Wiki describing the extent of pollution in Manila Bay:

With the presence of ports, sea-based sources of pollution around the bay are from ships and motorized boats. Twelve oil spills were recorded in 1995, but it was in 1999 where the highest total volume of oil spill occurred in the Manila South Harbor and Limay, Bataan.[1] Increased presence of oil and grease in the waters are attributed to maritime activities at the harbors, together with the presence of oil terminals and the discharges from industries.

These factors directly impacted the health of Manila Bay’s waters.

Aside from oil spills, trace metals such as copper, cadmium and zinc at the surface of the water[24] were found at the bay coming from sea-based and land-based (e.g., domestic sewage, industrial effluents, runoff, combustion emissions, and mining operations)[1] sources.

In 1996, concentrations of 16 commonly used pesticides in surface sediment[1] was found including dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) found in Manila Bay sediments have been influenced by human activities. PAH come principally from petrogenic sources (e.g., oil discharges from ships, refineries and industries) and pyrolytic sources (from combustion sources).

Pesticide residues from rice paddy water draining into irrigation canals, which later on empty into river systems and eventually flowing into the surrounding lakes reaches the waters of Manila Bay.  Compounds from these pesticide residues find themselves in food items with metamidophos, endosulfan, chlorpyrifos and diazinon among the common contaminants.  While chronic toxic effects on inhabitants of the bay are not found, impairment of marine biota were more evident.

In 1997, polychlorinated biphenyl congeners (PCBs), compounds common in transformers, hydraulic fluids, paint additives and pesticides were determined in sediments and oysters sampled from Manila Bay. The increase in the nutrient concentration and presence of nitrate, ammonia and phosphate in the bay,from the ’80s, through to the ’90s and beyond are not only attributed to agricultural runoff and river discharges but also on fertilizers from fishponds.

In fact, the copper and orange tinge that makes Manila Bay sunsets so beautiful is partly caused by the air pollution, while the multi-colored sparkles of the bay’s water are actually from the layers of oil floating on its surface.

Just consider this article from Scientific American on Sunsets and Air Pollution:

To get a red sky, you need aerosols, explains A. R. Ravishankara, director of chemical sciences at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. Aerosols are solid or liquid particles suspended in the air that originate from both natural processes and human activity.

… ….

But “in a large city, you can ignore natural aerosol products for the most part” because the number of aerosols produced by human activity far exceeds natural sources, says Sergey Nizkorodov, a chemist at the University of California, Irvine. Human-generated aerosols can enter the atmosphere directly, as is the case with soot emitted by internal combustion engines in cars and trucks, he explains. Aerosols are also produced when molecules in the gaseous state enter the atmosphere and react with other chemicals, he adds. A classic case: burning fossil fuels releases sulfur dioxide gas into the air, which then turns into sulfuric acid aerosols.

In a way, saving the sunset on Manila bay may actually mean keeping things the way they are and that is something that is really the opposite of what ought to be done.

About suddenblessings

Writing is a hobby that got me places and helped me meet people who gave me pretty good writing gigs. I devote my extra time to writing about things that people tend to overlook, like caring for the environment and preventing the further ruin of ecological systems. My mother was half Filipina and my father was an Irish newspaper reporter, they've both passed on now. I spend time between Toronto and come to Manila (actually, Marikina) when I'm on my sabbatical. And I will never probably never ever stop laughing inside whenever a new Filipino friend tries to feed me balot or dinuguan or sisig -- favorites of mine since childhood.
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5 Responses to Save Our Sunset (S.O.S) Manila Bay

  1. Pingback: What “Saving Manila Bay” Really Ought to Mean « Save Manila Bay

  2. Pingback: Save Our Sunset (SOS) Save Manila Bay… Do You Mean “Keep It Polluted” ? | Get Real Post

  3. M says:

    This is really an interesting article. You raised a good point here re the possibility of simply keeping the way dirty things are if we do stop this reclamation project.

    But there are other concerns involved like privatizing a national park or space that is supposed to be enjoyed by the public, or the environmental impact of such project (word wildlife fund philippines) with regard to flooding, traffic congestion, garbage. And what about the history and memories threatened when we alter the built environment so drastically like this?

    I’m honestly against this reclamation project. But your stand is valid. Perhaps, the important thing to highlight in this petition is what I’ve read from one of the #SaveManilaBay articles somewhat asking, “so what’s next?” It’s not enough that we campaign to stop the reclamation and yadayada without proposing a better developmental solution. There must be an alternative move after this campaign else we’d better just let the whole area reclaimed.

    There’s an event dubbed “Synchronized Sunset Viewing” happening at the Manila Baywalk on Feb 12, 2013; 4pm. Civil society groups, advocates and supporters of the #SaveManilaBay will hold it as a peaceful protest to the issue, you might be interested to go since the main coalition of the campaign would be there. I personally would want to know and understand more about the issue

  4. elmer says:

    great sunset. when was that taken ?

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