As a child, I had nightmares about falling into the Pasig River, for even in the 70's it was already known as a polluted body of water. In my nightmares, I would be running along the concrete banks and would lose balance and fall into the brackish blackness, waking up just as I hit the water.
The Pasig has not had a break in a long time. Factories and squatters have released so much chemical and organic pollutants into the water for decades. Plans to rehabilitate it are constantly being mentioned by civic groups, and former First Lady Amelita Ramos was once at the forefront of a Pasig clean-up project.
From where I sit in any vehicle passing over the Pasig through a bridge or two, the water is black, usually filled with garbage, and occasionally you catch sight of the Pasig Ferry, that takes commuters from Makati to Manila. Very rarely do I see rowers punting about, although friends have told us about their experiences in rowing teams taking their boats out onto the river. This morning, waiting through traffic, I looked out over the river and saw that it was covered in waterlily plants. I call them waterlilies but am not quite sure what aquatic plant they are. I've never actually seen them flower. But I do know they swarm over the river and seem to sprout overnight. This morning was such a case, I know I hadn't seen any yesterday, but this morning, swathes of the green plants made the river look rather festive and healthy. I don't know if they are good for whatever fish remain in the river, or if they suck up any nutrients for plants that kill algae (if said plants are managing to thrive in the Pasig). But as a verdant flotilla, they are a prettier sight than watching pink plastic bags float along the water.