An Underwater Town in the Philippines Had Reemerged and It's an Eerie Sight
The historic town of Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija was abandoned in the 1970s when floodwater from the newly created dam submerged the town and its environs.
Residents were forced to relocate on higher ground, but many pieces of heritage were lost to the rising waters. Among them, an 18th-century church whose belfry stood out above the water like the outstretched arm of a drowning relic.
During the severe drought that struck Nueva Ecija in 1983, parts of the town reemerged when the waters dried up.
On July 27, the Old Pantabangan Town returned again from the depths of the flood. The church, once a place of prayer, is now an ominous symbol of the country’s power shortages in the past decades and its desperate search for a solution that inundated an entire town.
These photos taken by John John Salem Fernandez and Ishaac Baniag show an eerie sight.
“Augustinian missionaries started to propagate the seed of Catholicism in Nueva Ecija then collectively part of Pampanga as early as 17th century in the pueblos of Gapang (Gapan), Santor (Bongabon), Puncan (Carranglan), Pantabangan, Aliaga and Cuyapo,” wrote Baniaga in his Facebook post, describing the history of the church’s ruins.
Baniaga also appealed to visitors to the site not to take bricks as souvenirs.
“Huwag na rin po sana tayong manguha ng bricks at mga bato, huwag po nating gawing souvenir, dahil kung lahat po ng bibisita sa Lumang Bayan ay kukuha, baka po wala ng masilayan ang mga susunod na henerasyon.”
(“Let us not take pieces of rocks and bricks as souvenirs. If every visitor to the Old Town would do this, there won’t be anything left to see for the future generations.”)