Cebu City

Wala’y tubig: How difficult is it to find drinking water in Cebu City?

John Sitchon
Wala’y tubig: How difficult is it to find drinking water in Cebu City?

NO WATER. Residents line up hoping to get water after Typhoon Odette.

Jacqueline Hernandez

Downed electricity lines have triggered a water crisis in Cebu City. Those lucky enough to find drinking water find themselves paying heftier prices for them.

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Residents have struggled to find water to drink in Cebu City since Typhoon Odette (Rai) struck last Thursday, December 16, taking down power lines and triggering bedlam in the Queen City.

From Sunday, December 19, to Wednesday, December 22, Rappler went to 10 supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, and water-refilling stations in Cebu City, only to find that they’ve sold out of water or closed temporarily because they have no power supply. 

Wala’y Tubig (No Water),” read one sign outside a 7-Eleven in Cebu City.

Refilling stations now rely on generator sets to process potable water, limiting production and triggering long lines of residents.

This is linked to the gas and power crisis the island is currently experiencing. To pump water, the water-refilling stations need electricity. If they don’t have electricity, the stations use generators to operate.
For generators to operate, they need diesel fuel or crude oil.

But kilometric lines could be seen in many gas stations in Cebu City because of limited operations due to the power crisis. thousands of Cebuanos even resorted to camping out at gas stations overnight just to get fuel.

Many residents have reportedly resorted to opening fire hydrants and using alternative water purifiers to ease their situation. 

On Wednesday, Nature’s Spring, a supplier of potable water in the city, posted on their social media page that they have officially suspended selling to walk-in customers at their main office due to limited stocks. 

“We ask for your patience and understanding while we do our best to make our products available as soon as possible,” the post read.

Besides looking inside groceries and convenience stores, Rappler also checked with street vendors who are selling 500ml purified drinking water for P75 instead of the usual P15. 

One seller in Mandaue City even imported drinking water from Leyte to sell at P130 a gallon.

Reports of hoarding of potable water to sell on the black market have also reached the Cebu City government. In response, Mayor Mike Rama warned hoarders not to take advantage of the situation.

“Please shape up before we get you into much trouble,” he said.

However, when asked if the city government would provide generators to water-refilling stations in affected barangays, Rama said they would look into it.

Unsa pamay kinahanglan nga generator kung ang power muabot na?(Why would there be a need for a generator when the power is finally arriving?) We have to be selective,” he added.

In the meantime, Rama has directed the city’s Business Permit and Licensing Office to monitor hoarding activities. –

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