A Cycle of Floods and Relocations: Metro Manila’s History of Disaster-Related Resettlements

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Metro Manila has had numerous cases of state-led, disaster-related resettlements, especially in response to floods. Historicizing the trajectory of these relocations reveals important insights about the dynamics between the changing nature of the Philippine state and the geography of the metropolis. Whereas flood-related resettlements were virtually absent in the colonial period, relocation became an articulation of state power after gaining independence. State power flexes its might by demarcating hazardous and safe spaces, a maneuver that also underlines another juxtaposition, that of between a supposedly rational state and an irrational populace. The demarcation, however, defies geographical logic, considering how economic costs have greatly influenced how administrations from the 1960s to the present have allocated spaces along waterways for commercial activities, while forcing vulnerable families to move to far-flung hazardous sites that surround the metropolis.