Update: June 21, 2006. The new imagery from Google Earth has now arrived in Google Maps. This means you can no longer see the dam under construction in Google Maps.
While not as provocative as the destruction of Porta Farm in Zimbabwe or as heartbreaking as the devastation of the tsunami in Banda Aceh, we can still have relevant before-and-after comparisons of places here in the Philippines.
The San Roque Dam in San Manuel, Pangasinan is the controversial public works project which aimed to dam the Agno River to provide 345 MW of hydroelectric power, to prevent flooding, and to provide irrigation to tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land.
The indigenous Ibaloi people, who live upstream of the dam in Itogon, Benguet have been fiercely opposed to the project. The dam, they said, would disrupt their communities, inundate sacred sites, and force resettlement of hundreds of families who were already disturbed with the construction of Ambuklao and Binga Dams in 1954 and 1961 respectively. Nevertheless, the project was completed in 2002 and a reservoir now stands on the Agno River basin. See the official website of San Roque Dam or the Wikipedia article.
The picture below shows the San Roque Dam and reservoir area during the dam’s construction (left half, around 2000) and after the reservoir has been filled (right half, around 2004). These images are possible because of Google Earth’s imagery update last week. There is an interval between when the imagery is introduced to Google Earth and when the same imagery is updated in Google Maps, so using Google’s products, we get to see before and after images of sites in the Philippines.