An old submerged town reappears during a drought in the Philippines

A 300-year-old town in the Philippines that was submerged to build a dam in the 1970s is visible again after drought caused the water to recede.

The once-bustling Old Pantabangan town in Nueva Ecija province has not been seen for almost half-a-century.

However, a chronic lack of rain across parts of Southeast Asia has caused water levels in the reservoir to plunge.

Former residents and tourists are now returning to the ruins, while Catholic devotees organised a mass in the old Augustinian Church.

Some superstitious residents believe that the emergence of the town is a sign of hope amid the coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the country - one of the worst-hit in Asia.

Alexander Agustin recorded the video while attending mass with his family and neighbours.

He said: "I grew up in that place. Before it was sunken by the dam, we were forced to evacuate and find another place to live. I am happy to be able to go back there and remember how my life was before the town disappeared below the water.''

Joergen Cruz Mandilag recorded a drone video on July 28. He said people are now starting to flock the old town but everyone has proper permits and are following social distancing during the tour.

Mandilag said: "We usually visited here to take sunrise photographs for years. We are aware about the history of that old sunken town, but we never had a chance to see it before.

"So when the news came that the sunken town was now visible, we decided to see it for ourselves. The opportunity to see a large portion of the old town is very rare. The locals there also said that it may be many years for us to be able to see it again."

The sunken old town is under the picturesque Pantabangan Dam. In the 1970s, the people of this municipality sacrificed their properties to give way to the construction of one of the biggest dams in Southeast Asia.

The old town was submerged but it has irrigated vast tracts of land enabling Nueva Ecija province to prosper and become the biggest producer of rice in the country.

- Newsflare via AP

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