“Mahirap talaga noong wala pa kaming tubig,” said Mang Willy. “Halos isang oras kang maglalakad tapos [pagdating mo sa] balon, mayroon pang nakapila dun. Hihintayin mo [pang] mapuno ung balon. ‘Pag napuno ‘yun, dun ka pa [lang] makakapag-iigib.”
Mang Willy, a resident of Sitio Monicayo, recalled his experience as he walked from a well uphill, with his bucket of water, enough only for cooking. After spending hours lining up among his neighbors to fetch a bucket of water, Mang Willy wiped his sweat as he dreamt of having a better life with access to basic needs such as water.
Meanwhile, Ate Ruby, another resident of the Sitio, shared how children in her area were unable to practice proper hygiene and sanitation because of a remote water source, thus exposing them to communicable diseases all year round.
“’Yung mga bata namin noon, hihila-hilamos na lang, ‘di gaanong nakakaligo. ’Yung nakukuha pong sakit ng mga bata noon: ubo, sipon, tapos mga bulate.” shared Ate Ruby. “Noon po, naglalaba kami, dalawang oras bago kami makarating sa sapa, sa ilog. Doon kami naglalaba kasi po ‘yung tubig na naigib namin pang-luto at tsaka pang-inom na lang iyon. Kapag maglalaba po kami, pupunta kami sa sapa—doon kami maglalaba, doon na rin kakain, uuwi kami noon gabi na. ‘Yung tubig na na-imbak namin na dalawang timba, ‘yun na ‘yung panluto namin.” she added.
Mang Willy and Ate Ruby are only two among the thousands of individuals across the country whose lives are affected by the lack of access to clean and potable water and sanitation.
WASH Community: Sitio Monicayo
Sitio Monicayo is a neighborhood of an Aeta community situated in Mabalacat, Pampanga. In 2016, Manila Water Foundation, in partnership with Clark Development Corporation and Clark Water, built a stand-alone water facility in the Sitio to provide water access to its 200 families. For the project’s sustainability, Sitio Monicayo has been chosen as a pilot community for MWF’s Integrated WASH Program—a holistic intervention of WASH services, intended to serve a community through water and sanitation access, while transferring knowledge on resource management and educating the community about hygiene and sanitation practices.
The water facility built in the Sitio is only the first step towards helping the community to achieve WASH.
“Tinatatak namin sa isip namin—sa puso—‘pag nagkaroon tayo ng tubig, kailangan—kami-kami—magtutulungan para sa ika-aayos ng tubig na ibinigay ng Manila Water Foundation,” shares Ate Ruby.
MWF assisted the community in forming its Water Group, a circle of residents that would oversee the maintenance and operations of the water facility. Mang Willy and Ate Ruby, to date, are actual Water Group leaders: Mang Willy currently serves as the Water Group President, while Ate Ruby serves as a Water Collector. Now that the water facility and the Water Group are in place, MWF is conducting discussions and assessments in the community to proceed to the next phase of the program—the sanitation phase.
The Integrated WASH framework being implemented in Sitio Monicayo will serve as a benchmark for future WASH communities, including one in Barangay Sapang Uwak in Porac, Pampanga.
MWF and WASH moving forward
Since its establishment in 2005, MWF has been focused on providing services that are in line with its mother company’s expertise—water supply and sanitation. Today, MWF focuses its efforts in making a more meaningful impact by serving one community at a time.
Ate Ruby expressed her gratitude in behalf of the community. “’Yung mga bata, araw-araw na malinis at naghuhugas ng kamay,” she shared. “Kaya ngayon, nagpapasalamat kami sa Manila Water Foundation na binigyan kami ng tubig na pwede naming inumin.”
Mang Willy emphasized the importance of collaboration among his peers in the sustainability of the Program within their community. “Sabi ko sa aming grupo, alagaan natin ito. Ito ang daluyan para tayo ay mapaunlad,” he said.
As of 2018, MWF has served more than 2.6 million Filipinos through its Integrated WASH, Flagship, and Special Programs combined, but this is only the beginning of MWF’s journey towards delivering sustainable WASH to marginalized communities. In the years to come, MWF hopes to scale its Integrated WASH Program to other corners of the country—leaving no toilet-less and water-less community behind.