Patasan, Philippines – When floods invade her house at night – which always happens, a little higher every year – Pelagia Villarmia wrinkles on her bed and waits.
One day she knows that the water will sneak behind the bamboo slices in her bed. It will continue to rise surprisingly salty, dark and cold.
Sea water covered the walls of Mrs. Filarmia’s house with mildew murals. He bumped into the furniture legs and froze the DVD player with a tray tray. A corroded image of Mrs. Villarmia and her now deceased husband, hung on the wall, from the back when they were young, optimistic and unaware of hunger at sea.
What happens to Ms. Filarmia and her neighbors in Patasan, an island in the Philippines, is a harbinger of what the people of low-lying islands and coastal areas around the world will face as the sea level rises.
In 2013, Patasan was affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Thousands of aftershocks followed, and local terrain out of sight. Patasan and three adjacent islands collapsed downwards, making it more vulnerable to surrounding waters.
Now climate change, with sea levels rising, appears to hang over a place with no elevation. The highest point on the islands is less than 6.5 feet above sea level.
When the floods are bad, Ms. Villarmia learned to live on cold rice and coffee. She has skillfully grown tied up her valuables so she doesn’t float away.
It is 80, it defines the logic of actuarial tables.
She said: “I will go before the departure of Patasan.” “But Patasan will also disappear.”
Close to every new and full moon, the sea rushes effortlessly through littered beaches, on a unified road that runs along the backbone of Patasan, with a population of 1,400 people, and goes into people’s homes. The island, part of the Tubigon chain in the central Philippines, is flooded for at least a third of the year.
The highest floods are taller than any man here, and they flood the basketball court. They have drowned a painting of marine life in elementary school, adding verisimilitude to the cartoon designs of vulgar sharks and manta rays.
When the tides come, the patasan, full of houses and knives, does not smell clean sea air but rather deep sofas floating on the roof, sunken documents and saturated sewage that flushes human waste into salt water as it washes homes.
Only a few coconut palms have survived in Patasan. The rest was suffocated by sea water.
“People say this is because the Arctic is melting,” said Dennis Sukanto, a local resident whose task is to measure water levels in Patasan every year. “I don’t understand but that’s what they say.”
A year after the 2013 earthquake, the local government proposed moving the islanders to new homes an hour away by boat. Few took the offer.
“They wanted us to go to a high hillside place,” said 66-year-old Rodrigo Cucicol, shaking his head in insult. “We are fishermen. We need fish.”
“We are no longer afraid of water,” said Mr. Kocekul. “This is how we live.”
The unwillingness of people in Patasan to leave their homes – rather than choosing to respond, inch by inch, to a new reality – may hold valuable lessons for the residents of other vulnerable island states. Instead of uprooting an entire population, with enormous shock and cost implications, the most viable solution may be local adaptation.
“The message of climate refugees is more exciting, but the most realistic narrative of the islanders themselves is adaptation, not mass migration,” said Loris Gamero, who has Searched the Tubigon Islands For five years she manages climate and disaster risk assessment efforts at the Manila Observatory, a research institute.
The residents of Patasan have modified. He folded them. They put their homes on blocks of coral stone. They tied their goats in pens on stilts. They have transferred most of the plant life from floodable earth spots to portable pots.
There are other concessions. The Catholic priest in the local church declared that the parishioners no longer had to kneel down to pray when the tide rose.
“We will find a way to do things because this is our home,” said Annie Caskoyo, a member of the local health committee who once worked outside the island but returned to Patasan.
The persistent threat to nature has affected the resilience of Philippine DNA.
The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries on earth, a victim of Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, landslides and tsunamis, among other disasters. At the beginning of this year, a volcano Tal sent columns of ash to the sky, threatening Manila.
“In practical terms, the whole Philippines is a dangerous sight so people can’t move to another place and be completely safe,” said Dakela Kim Pe Yi, sociologist at Visaya Tacloban College, University of the Philippines. “We have developed this culture of adaptation and recovery.”
More than 23,000 people in the Philippines died of natural hazards from 1997 to 2016, according to the Asian Development Bank.
“It is a way of life to deal with environmental challenges such as hurricanes or a tsunami,” said Ms. Jamero, of the Manila Observatory, referring to the residents of Tobijon Island in particular and the Philippines in general. “Climate change has had a severe impact, but this is not so strange to them that they have the potential.”
On Ubay, an island of 160 people 20 minutes by boat from Batasan, there are elevated lanes connecting huts. In elementary school, the floor was raised higher than many adults, leaving the classroom jammed in rafters less than five feet.
“Our teachers should be very short,” said John Alipoyo, a local consultant in Obay. “Students already.”
Before the renovation, the children were sitting in class and damping their feet in tides while studying. Attracted their attention, parents said.
Although such modifications help people cope with the effects of the flood, life on these small and hot islands, which spread across the Cebu Strait, remains a challenge.
Most days, the tropical sun bounces off coral and sand, and breaks into a solid light that gives many islanders a permanent aberration. In 2016, it did not rain for four months. Dynamite fishing and coral bleaching from climate change stole some of his life.
There is no source of fresh water, so the population relies on rainwater or drinking water that comes from elsewhere. People can grow some herbs and vegetables, but there is no suitable cultivation. Protein comes from the sea – elegant sea anchovies, juicy mussels, fatty shrimps – and inexpensive cans of low-fat beef.
Children in Patasan who are lucky to own bikes have one option – up and down the main road, the only way.
The concrete strip extends for less than two-thirds of a mile, then floats in a mangrove swamp near the Alma Ribucas house, where high water infiltrates the thigh regularly. She believes in family tools, lest they float away. Her dog and goats are swimmers. This is the cat.
Mrs. Ribucas said she had no plans to get away. The local government is building new buildings nearby, a vote of confidence – even if the building is based on tall blocks.
She oversees a fishing company that extracts sea cucumbers, lobsters and grouper from the sparkling sea. Mrs. Reebokas said that life here is a magic trick, that it makes something out of nothing.
“We don’t need much land,” she said. “We have the whole sea.”