Pasig City residents share water supply woes
As one of the most affected cities, some parts of Pasig experienced several weeks without a single drop of water.
Rappler went around Pasig City to ask how a most basic human need – or the lack of it – can affect a community.
Life at home without water
Barangay Oranbo residents experienced 24-hour water service interruption for 8 days since the water shortage began on March 7.
“Talagang magdamag kami nag-aabang, walang tulo (We waited overnight, but there wasn’t a single drop),” recalled Rizalyn Tolentino.
Tolentino shared how there should have been an earlier advisory about the water shortage to help households prepare, especially when people rely on water for almost all of their day-to-day activities.
“Parang ‘di ka makakilos kapag walang tubig. ‘Di bale na mawalan ng kuryente, huwag na ‘yung tubig…. Dapat kapag ganyang mawawalan ng tubig, dapat may abiso (You can’t move without water. Nevermind if we lose power supply, so long as we have water.... If ever there would be a water service interruption, there should be an advisory),” said Tolentino.
“Isipin mo ‘yung buhay mo araw-araw.... Kapag magluluto ka, tubig ang unang hinahanap mo. Kapag dudumi ka, maliligo, kailangan ng tubig. Kapag walang tubig, mahirap. Magkakasakit pa ‘yung mga tao,” she added.
(Think of your everyday life.... If you’re cooking, water is the first thing you look for. If you’re defacating, taking a bath, water is needed. If there’s no water, it’s hard. People will end up getting sick.)
In Barangay Pineda, Pasig City, Cristina Maridejo , a 43-year-old mother of 6, shared the same sentiment.
Maridejo recalled her struggle just to provide water, especially drinking water, for her children.
Despite continuous efforts of the local government to supply water in their barangay, Maridejo suggested having a system to distribute water, so everyone gets a fair share.
She also brought up how the back-up water supply offered by the local government could not be used for drinking, which might also pose another problem to big households with a limited budget.
“May dumating naman kaagad kaya lang talagang nagkagulo-gulo kami dahil nga una-unahan sa tubig…’Yung tubig naman na ‘yun, hindi siya pwede panggamit sa mga inumin so sacrifice talaga kami...Tulad ko, marami akong anak, wala naman akong budget para pang-mineral,” she said.
(Water supply arrived immediately but it got chaotic because we were all rushing to get water first.... That water can’t be used for drinking, so we had to sacrifice.... Like me, I have many children. I don’t have the budget for bottled water.)
Wash and go no more
Marilyn Abella, a supervisor at Stain Master Laundry and Dry Clean shop in Pasig, shared how the business struggled during the recent water crisis. As a laundry shop, the business is fully dependent on water supply. They had to stop operations when the water service interruption struck their area.
Aside from finding a way to operate amid the water crisis, Abella also had to explain their situation to every complaining customer.
“Walang humpay na paliwanag sa mga client namin na yung minsan ‘di mo maintindihan bakit nagagalit pa (There was no end to explaining to every client who got angry for reasons you sometimes don’t understand)," she said.
On instances that their water came back for a few hours, they maximized the time by rushing to do the laundry for their business to survive.
David Isidro, a firefighter at the San Antonio Pasig Fire Department, recalled how their team almost never stopped supplying water in their areas of responsibility.
Isidro shared it had been particularly difficult to keep water supply in Barangay San Antonio, a highly urbanized community and home to condominiums and commercial buildings.
Although water interruptions mean that specific barangays will have no water for specific hours, Isidro explained that the situation was different since there was no water at all in those areas, even from fire hydrants.
“Ang nangyari kasi totally wala. Ultimo itong Business District, itong Ortigas, ultimo ‘yung hydrants natin patay (What happened was there was totally no water. Even the Business District, Ortigas, their hydrants were shut down)," he said.
The water crisis prompted the city government, the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help supply water to the areas, with the support of fire volunteers.
Isidro said despite this, the supply was still not enough, and other cities have to pitch in.
As firefighters rushed to provide water to communities, several firefighters fell ill due to the fatigue.
Still recovering from flu, Fire Officer I Roderick Sibbaluca shared how he and his juniors in Kapitolyo got sick due to exhaustion and lack of rest from their 24-hour duty to supply water, particularly at the Rizal Medical Center, government hospitals, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology of Pasig.
He added how he felt bad for the residents as they could not give out water rations beyond what was set since this was regulated by a strict protocol.
“Masakit para sa’min na nakikita namin 'yung mga tao sinasabi nila 3 araw na silang ‘di naliligo, kulang-kulang 'yung tubig.... Meron tayong sinusunod na protocol so hindi rin namin pwedeng pasobrahan 'yung kanila kasi may sinusunod tayo sa taas. Kaya ‘yun ‘yung isa sa mga naging problema, ang hirap papilahin kasi basic need talaga yung tubig,” he said.
(It’s painful for us to see people who say they haven’t taken a bath in 3 days because of the water shortage.... We follow a protocol, so we can’t give them more than their ration because we follow orders from above. One of our problems is making them line up because water is such a basic need.) – with reports from Sofia Virtudes, Nicole Del Rosario, Jillian Siervo, and Isabel Lupac/Rappler.com