Outsmarting the water companies

"Suddenly you have so many friends and relatives."


Filipinos are probably the smartest people in the world in dealing with problems. Take the current water shortage crisis for instance. Manila Water it was found out was sourcing its supply from Angat Dam in Bulacan where Maynilad also does. This, aside from drawing water from the La Mesa dam. Yet,water consumers of Maynilad have water from their tap while the familiar cry of “tubi…iii… g !” reverberates in Metro Manila areas being serviced by the Ayala Group’s Manila Water.

In fairness, the water woes in Mandaluyong and Pasig, two of the worst-hit areas, has eased after lawmakers said they would conduct a public inquiry on the matter and President Rodrigo Duterte himself ordered the water companies to address the problem.

Aghast, consumers were also outraged that their monthly payment for the basic commodity would increase. Payment for water which is not there, they wailed.

“Pera-pera lang pala ang laro nitong mga profit-driven companies, ha. Sige utakan naman ang gamitin natin sa kanila,” was one feedback.

It will be noted that the duopoly of the Ayalas and Manny Pangilinan who operate Manila Water and Maynilad, respectively, are the same people who own the much complained-about telco carriers of Globe and PLDT Smart. Their revenues, together, are in the billions of pesos. One of them also owns several hospitals in the Metro Manila area.

Here’s where creative Pinoys showed their smart stuff. In a hospital in Ortigas, Mandaluyong, nurses were wondering why a certain patient was receiving a lot of visitors daily. He must have a lot of relatives and friends, they thought. Then it dawned on them that the patient was a kagawad or kapitan and why the whole barangay was visiting him in force. The whole barangay neighborhood was taking their hot shower in his private room at the hospital.

The nurses and the janitors became suspicious when the patient kept requesting for more towels when his doctor had instructions that only a sponge bath would be given him by the nurses. The barangay captain will surely be reelected in his neighborhood but we doubt whether the hospital will admit him again even if he can afford to pay. Water consumption, plus laundry services, count for a lot in computing a hospital’s cost of operation vis-à-vis profit. A hospital is big business with so many people getting sick because of lack of clean drinking water, and water to wash plates and kitchen utensils.

The hospital situation is also being repeated in hotels where Filipino balikbayans are checked in. Friends and relatives who visit take their shower and answer the call of nature in the hotel guest’s room. The same thing goes for someone who lives in a condo developed by the Ayalas with an abundance of water a relative or friend would just suddenly drop in with towel in hand.

In another not-so-funny situation, poor people lined up with water pails shouted at firemen for bypassing them to deliver water at a gated community of rich residents. One of the firemen shouted back: “That’s because those people pay their water bills while most of you have illegal connections while using water freely!” he shouted back in Tagalog even as he assured them they will also be given their share of the precious water of life.

Going back to the hospital situation, now is not the time to get sick. It can be a grave situation if you are a diabetic and need dialysis three times a week. Water is needed for this procedure as with other hospital treatment.

Yes, the Philippines is an archipelago surrounded by water. Yet as the famous line said “water, water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”

Yes, one can still buy bottled water but whose prices increased just like those drums and pails for storing and fetching water wherever it is available. A word of warning from the Department of Health: Make sure those drums and pails of stored water are well covered so dengue-carrying mosquitoes do not infect them—and you.

If you get sick and have to be hospitalized, then you have to deal with relatives and friends you have not seen in a year suddenly visiting you. Or asking to shower in your private room’s toilet and bath.

Welcome to the Philppines!

Topics: Alejandro del Rosario , water shortage crisis , Manila Water , La Mesa dam , Maynilad
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