Less water to be used in San Juan's 'Wattah Wattah' Festival

MANILA, Philipppines – Less water will be gushing out of hoses during the revelry this year for the "Wattah Wattah" Festival of San Juan City, which was one of the several metro cities affected by the water shortage.

For over two months now, faucets are dry in San Juan City for as long as 12 hours a day because of water rationing implemented by distributor Manila Water. 

San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez has ordered that the focus of this year's celebration would be water conservation.

Because of the directive, San Juan City Councilor Vincent Pacheco said they are using two-thirds less fire trucks at the venue on June 24, the day of the fiesta. From 50 fire trucks a year ago, they will have only 16 next week. 

Pacheco, the chair of the festival organizing committee, said: “What’s happening to us now is a wake up call. This is why we should conserve water.”

San Juan City's "Wattah Wattah" celebration coincides with the feast of St John the Baptist, from whom the city was named after.

Despite the water shortage, Gomez said the religious tradition of “basaan" (water dousing) will remain because it is part of San Juan’s culture and tourism.

And though there will be less water for spraying, the city expects more tourists attending this year.

The traditional “basaan” will be held at the Pinaglabanan Shrine, which has a bigger area than the previous venue at “Tanghalan ng Masa.”

Gomez reminded the public that there was a city ordinance prohibiting the use dirty water; ice or water placed inside a plastic bag/"water bomb"; bottled water; or water placed inside any material that can inflict pain; to threaten and hurt people; to enter public utility vehicles and douse water at people inside it; and to forcibly open private vehicles. 

She said violators will be fined and will be required to do community service.  

San Juan City will also implement a liquor ban on June 24, from 12:01 am to 3 pm. 

Colonel Ariel Fulo, San Juan City police chief, said they would be in full force on festival day, and would be augmented by 50 cops from Eastern Police District.– Rappler.com