The Olongapo River acts as a boundary between the former Subic US Base and the outside world, in particular Olongapo City. Access to the base is made via a series of security-controlled bridges.
This river is known locally as the ‘smelly river’. And if you cross any of the bridges during high water you’ll understand where the name comes from. The river is so polluted with trash and human waste, that if you fell in, you would certainly require a batch of tetanus and other injections. That said, locals live and play along the banks of this river.
Children at play.
Local girl playing in river.
Recent monsoon rains have swollen the river and riverside inhabitants can be seen on a regular basis trying to bail out stinking water from the cobbled together sections of corrugated iron sheets and concrete blocks they call home. The monsoon season can last for four months.
Monsoon damage and flooding.
Flooding and bailout.
Yet life goes on, children seem content and play happily in and around the river, ignorant of any dangers therein. Locals continue with their daily chores of shopping and some even brave the river to dive for crustaceans.
Childrens toys and clothes for sale.
Diver looking for crabs and shellfish.
Attempts to clean the river are futile; canoe after canoe full of trash recovered from the river doesn’t seem to make any impact on the growing amount of plastic and non-degradable waste, which others disregard without thought.
River rubbish removal.
A good sign.