Nurturing nature (1) | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Nurturing nature (1)

General Santos City—Here in this avowed tuna capital of the country, many of us are reeling from at least two weeks of living in very high temperatures (33-37 degrees Celsius). The local shopping malls have become some cool refuge for many of us who do not have air conditioners at home.

I remember that when my small family of four (two parents and two children) migrated here in 1998, the city was also on its third month of enduring a long dry spell, the very first El Niño we experienced then. It was quite difficult since we used to live in Cotabato City, where rain was almost a weekly occurrence then. We used to live in a very simple village there, where houses were made of wood, built on top of long, sturdy posts made stronger with concrete frames and steel bolts. The windows were wide, with wooden jalousies that allowed for the free passage of fresh air (although sometimes foul-smelling air wafted into our small living room). Then we had to use floor wax to make our wooden floors shine so drops of water spilled from our drinking glasses seemed to bounce off them. I remember those days when my eldest child used to play with his much older cousins using the bunot (coconut husk) to make the floor very shiny. I used to tell them that even flies will slide on our very shiny floors! As far as I can remember, our small family plus an extended number of relatives (by affinity) never needed any air-conditioning then. We were just comfortable with at least two electric stand fans during times when temperatures went beyond 30 degrees Celsius.


I realized later that the houses were built to adapt to the climate of Cotabato City, which is several feet below sea level. Our village was constructed on top of a veritable marshland, and other homeowners like me had to hire a landfilling company to haul more than 50 truckloads of landfill to “elevate” it so floodwaters will not reach the floor level.

While still new to Gensan, I used to joke about its climate. “We only have two seasons here—dry and very dry, or hot and very hot.” During my teaching days at the university here, there were times I encountered small brush fires after some smokers threw their cigarette butts onto the very dry grass surrounding the university campus then.


As academics, both my husband and I had very limited incomes and measly savings. We did not have the luxury of choosing the best housing option when we migrated to General Santos City. The cheapest and available units then were of the duplex type built in crowded subdivisions using substandard materials, with concrete walls that did not have steel fortifications, as well as very low ceilings—just at least a foot above the tallest member of my family, my husband, who is 5 feet and 6 inches tall.

We came here at the height of the El Niño season. Three electric fans were not sufficient to stave off the heat. We needed to change our clothes often, not so much because we had a lot of clothes but because even with slight movements, sweat would be dripping down our bodies like water running from a faucet.

I wondered why housing units in this dry and arid place are built like larger versions of chicken coops (perhaps these are better because they are much more well-ventilated, unlike human housing). The subdivision houses are made of concrete, with very low ceilings, and with equally miniature windows with glass jalousies. Clearly, the housing design in Cotabato was so much more adaptive to the local conditions and location of the village.

Later, I learned that the housing subdivision, where we put up our first home here, was embroiled in a legal tussle between the subdivision owner and the local government. The former violated housing standards and constructed housing units in areas that were meant for access roads.

(To be continued)

Comments to [email protected]

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: dry spell, nature
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Fearless views on the news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.