In a heartfelt message, Rise Artist Aljon Mendoza shared his concerns about the persistent flooding in his hometown of Macabebe, Pampanga.
Aljon, formerly known for his partnership with Karina Bautista before joining Jayda Avanzado’s youth-oriented show ‘Teen Clash,’ took viewers on a tour of his birthplace and childhood home in a YouTube video.
The video showcased his simple yet beautiful home, situated on a spacious lot with lush vegetable gardens, lovely plants, and even a basketball hoop at the back. This was where he and his siblings bonded with their father during his off-work hours.
Aljon also gave a glimpse of his modest room, exuding happiness and pride as he mentioned plans to renovate it once they’d saved enough.
Hailing from a provincial background, Aljon lived a simple life, but he joined ‘Pinoy Big Brother Otso’ as the ‘Shy Charmer’ of Pampanga to help his family.
As part of ‘Star Dreamers Teens’ Batch 1, alongside notable names like Seth Fedelin, Karina, Lie Reposposa, Josh Worsley, Art Guma, Jelay Pilones, and Kaori Oinuma, Aljon garnered a sizable fan base. His talent and charm landed him projects during the pandemic, all of which were available on online platforms due to cinema closures.
However, the story takes a somber turn as Aljon’s beloved childhood home in Macabebe, Pampanga, now sits submerged in floodwaters up to waist level, leaving the young actor deeply disheartened.
Sharing his family’s situation in a YouTube documentary, Aljon aimed to shed light on the living conditions of the area’s residents.
The teaser for his vlog read, “Ito ang kauna unahang documentary na aking na produce. Baha ang palagi naming problema taon-taon. Bagamat maraming tao ang sanay na sa ganitong buhay, nais ko pa rin gumawa ng paraan upang makatulong sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng dokumentaryong ito.”
Aljon explained, “Taun-taon binabaha ang Macabebe, Pampanga (sabay pakita ang palibot ng bahay nila na puro tubig ang paligid). Ito ang likod ng bahay namin kung matatandaan ninyo sa house tour ko maraming tanim ang tatay ko, tapos ‘yung ring (basketball court), doon hindi na rin ‘yan lumitaw this year dahil tubig na.
He continued, “Iyon ‘yung bahay namin na bagong renovate (ginagawa pa) hindi ko pala na-update sa inyo, nagpa-renovate kami ng bahay (pinataasan) siguro late 2021 wala pang tubig sa loob, pero konting-konti na lang papasukan na.
“Sa isang taon, 6 months kaming binabaha or more pa. Lumilitaw lang ang daan (kalsada) sa amin kapag summer mga February, March, April, at May. Pag June ‘yan na ‘yung simula ng pagbaha. Ngayon (2023) ito ‘yung pinakamalalim na baha for the record sa amin,” he added.
Aljon displayed a TV Patrol report by Kabayan Noli de Castro, highlighting the areas affected by flooding due to Typhoon Egay.
Aljon continued, “Itong July 24, 2023 ay pumasok sa Philippine area of responsibility ang bagyong Egay at sinundan pa ng bagyong Falcon nu’ng August 1. Ang Pampanga ang isa sa areas under state of calamity.
Due to two consecutive typhoons and the southwest monsoon, people in their area were well aware of what was going to happen, that there would be floods, inconvenience, and tragedies.
Aljon documented his surroundings, showing how even the pets had sadness in their eyes as they were placed on a piece of wood and couldn’t play or run around as usual.
We felt a deep sense of sadness while watching Aljon’s documentary. How did the once beautiful and happy town of Macabebe, Pampanga end up like this?
The reason, according to Aljon, is the uncontrolled flow of water (showing the lilies) from the creek, from the sky, as if crying and not stopping.
The place that used to be full of joy now seems forgotten, reduced to just memories. He also shared that back then, there used to be a road (visible), but in the past few years, it no longer appears. That’s how it is every day.
Aljon also passed by the cemetery that used to be filled with people visiting their loved ones, but now, not a single person goes there anymore because, “Wala nang naglilibing, paano lilibingan puro tubig na.”
He also showed what his family had built, saying, “Ito mini-apartment namin dati may mga nakatira ngayon wala na at kalahati na lang ang nakalitaw. Wala na rin kaming magagawa diyan kasi wala na rin namang bibili ng lupa diyan kahit ibenta kaya hinayaan na lang naming ganyan.”
We noticed that many houses seem to be abandoned, and it’s true. “Ito (turo ng mga bahay) maraming mga nakatira dati, ngayon wala na isa-isa na silang umaalis at lumilipat sa ibang (lugar) kasi hindi na rin nila matiis ‘to (lubog sab aha).
“Kasi every year bumababa ang lupa dito sa amin at naging effect din ng pagputok ng Mt. Pintubo at isa kami sa naapektuhan na lugar.
“Sa laki ng pinsalang naidulot ng baha mismong mga volunteers na rin ang kumakatok sa pintuan ng bawa’t pamilya para mag-abot ng relief goods (may video).”
Aljon also saw another mini-apartment that his family owned and was surprised that a family of four has been enduring for over a year because they have nowhere else to go. He showed in the video that the mattress they sleep on has a gap of only two inches from the floodwater, and they said that if it rises any further, they will put the bed on top, but it still wouldn’t escape the water.
“Itong apartment na ito parte ito ng childhood ko at maraming memories ito dahil dito ako dati naglalaro at marami akong naging kaibigan dito, eventually umalis na rin sila. Ilang beses na rin namin itong pinatambakan pero ganu’n talaga kapag kalikasan na ‘yung ano, mahirap kalaban ang kalikasan,” Aljon remarked.
Based on the actor’s research, the local government has been adding soil for a decade, but it’s been ineffective. Most people suggest that they need a proper flood control system.
Some residents have turned to boat riding as a means of livelihood, ferrying passengers daily, earning between P700 to P1,000, even during rainy days.
“Kaya bumabaha sa Pilipinas dahil madalas ito sa kapabayaan natin sa pag-aalaga sa kalikasan. Dapat maging handa tayo sa pagdating ng kalamidad pero ang malungkot na reyalidad kapag mahirap ka wala kang choice o option ‘di tulad sa may mga kaya (mayayaman).
“Sa ganitong kaso (ang mga mahihirap) wala silang magawa kundi manatili sa kanilang tinitirhan at magdasal na sana walang mangyaring masama sa kanila.
“Ako, umaasa ako at ginagamit ko ang boses kung anuman mayroon ako para udyukin ang pamahalaan natin sa Pampanga na gumawa ng konkreto at permanenteng solusyon bago pa mahuli ang lahat, bago pa mabura ang bayang kinalakihan ko at minahal ko,” concluded the young actor, Aljon Mendoza.