Pasig River

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Pasig River (Ilog Pasig)
Country Flag of the Philippines Philippines
Regions National Capital Region, CALABARZON
Major cities Manila, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Pasig City
Watershed 570 km² (220.1 sq mi)
Discharge at Manila Bay
Source Laguna de Bay
 - coordinates 14.383, 121.25
 - location Manila
 - elevation m (0 ft)
Major tributaries
 - left Pateros-Taguig River, San Juan River
 - right Marikina River
Drainage map of the Pasig-Marikina River system
Drainage map of the Pasig-Marikina River system

The Pasig River (Filipino: Ilog Pasig) is a river in Luzon, Philippines. It originates from Laguna de Bay (Laguna Lake) and drains its waters into the Manila Bay, after passing through five cities and four municipalities. Before pollution rendered the river virtually unsafe, the river was an important medium used in trade and transportation.



The Pasig River originates from Laguna de Bay, a large freshwater lake south of Metro Manila, and stretches for 25 kilometers before draining into the Manila Bay. This orientation divides the present National Capital Region into northern and southern sections. The Pasig has two major tributaries: the Marikina River and the San Juan River.

The direction of the river's current depends on the difference between the tides of Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay. During the wet season, the Laguna de Bay's water levels are high, thus water flows from Laguna down to Manila. During the dry season the lake's water levels are lower, and the flow depends on the tides.

Before the colonial period, the Pasig River was the main entry point of international traders when transacting business with the people of Manila, who were called Tagalogs, or Taga-ilog, meaning “river dwellers.” Upstream the municipalities utilized the river for fishing. The river served as a habitat for 25 varieties of fish and 13 different types of aquatic plants.

Present Situation

The Pasig River is one of the greatest casualties of the urbanization of Manila. Currently its waters are very turbid, and became more and more silted with organic matter and non-biodegradable materials. This is obviously not suited for life, and as of a 1991 study by the DENR only six species of fish and two types of plants can tolerate the polluted waters.

Reasons for deterioration

A study conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) between 1989 and 1990 identified the chief reasons of the river's deterioration as industrial pollution, solid and liquid waste dumping, and urban migration. It was determined that about 315 of the 2,000 or more factories located beside the river are the principal polluters of the water, most of which are in the textile and food manufacturing industries. Domestic liquid waste also contributes a huge amount of pollution load in the river, as the wastewaters discharged into the river's many tributaries are directly deposited without being treated first. And most noticeable is the increasing number of squatter colonies living beside the river. These inhabitants do not have proper waste disposal systems, and their refuse is directly deposited into the river.

Intervention and Proposed Improvement

There have been several efforts to rehabilitate the Pasig. One attempt was spearheaded by Former First Lady Imelda Marcos, and involved a major overhaul of the river, including the possibility of having floating casinos on its banks. However this plan was unsuccessful mainly due to lack of support.

The rehabilitation of Pasig River began in 1991 with the establishment of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Program, which was founded with the help of Danish aid agency DANIDA. The main focus of their program is the improvement of water quality and environmental matters. Since then, relocation of the squatters living beside the river took place, thereby reducing the amount of waste being deposited on the river. Sunken wrecks have also been successfully removed from the riverbed. And most importantly, awareness with regard to the state of the river is now widespread, educating the public on the proper ways of waste disposal and in turn rehabilitating the once alive river.

Pasig River Ferry Service

In 2007 the Pasig River Ferry Service opened its doors to the public, addressing the weary concerns of heavy traffic along the streets of Metro Manila. The service uses closed, air-conditioned catamarans which has a capacity of 152 people. Currently there are five stations ready for operation: Escolta, Santa Ana, Guadalupe, Hulo and Lambingan.


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