‘Wattah’ tradition prevails over crisis

Despite an ongoing water shortage, the San Juan City government on Monday celebrated the Wattah Wattah Festival, in honor of its patron St. John the Baptist.

WATTAH FEST. Residents of San Juan City in Metro Manila frolic under cloudy skies while water from a firetruck is sprinkled on them during the  Wattah Wattah Festival in honor of Saint John the Baptist. Norman Cruz
Randy Parkucho, a fireman, said the dousing of water every June 24 has been a tradition and is impossible to stop even when there is a water shortage.

“We’re first time volunteers from Sta. Ana, Manila. Manila Water provided us with limited water but the San Juan mayor told us to join. The water is limited, our tanker carries only 300 gallons of water,” Parkucho said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Outgoing San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez said adjustments have been made for the celebration because of the water problem, which affected around 80 percent of San Juan.

“Before, we had 50 fire trucks coming from Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and other places, but now they managed to send just a few, around 16 trucks, and apart from the motorcade, these trucks are going around the barangays, giving water to those who do not have water,” Gomez said.

Meanwhile, Msgr. Vicente Bauson said that water is not wasted during the festival because it signifies the blessing of life.

“This water is about cleansing, bringing new life. We would just like to moderate the use of water and promote the right use of water in this time of water crisis because water is life and we bless people with water,” Bauson said.

Gomez said water concessionaire Manila Water has responded to the shortage in the past days by bringing down the areas with severe water shortage to only 10 percent.

“Those in the highest points are the only ones they haven’t serviced yet, but they’re [Manila Water] doing their best,” she added.

The dousing of water from the fire trucks lasted for four hours.

“Even if you don’t have fire trucks, people will still douse everybody with water, which came from different sources, some are dirty water so other people get mad. But because now the water has been blessed, they have accepted that water is life, it is a blessing, and so we must take care of it,” Gomez said. 

READ: Water firms resort to service cuts

READ: From Wattah! celebration to conservation

READ: Double whammy: Water, power lack

Topics: water shortage , San Juan City , Wattah Wattah Festival , St. John the Baptist
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