Musings on Whatever: The Water Crisis

Our home back in Baguio is not connected to the city’s water supply network so we would always have water delivered. This naturally made my family very mindful of our water consumption. We collect rain water which is used to water plants, wash the laundry, and clean floors. A basin for dish washing and a bucket for bathing are always available to conserve water. Wastewater can be reused to flush the toilet.

So it does bother me sometimes when I see people who would just keep water running from the faucet or mindlessly waste water. Yes, water is a renewable natural resource but it can also be depleted. The earth is mostly covered in water but only 3% is freshwater. More than half of that is frozen in ice caps so we’re basically left with around 1% for our water needs.

A growing population entails an ever increasing demand for water. But rapid urban development, pollution, deforestation, and climate change are leading to water scarcity everywhere like Cape Town in South Africa; several cities in India; and even in Metro Manila in the Philippines.

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THE WATER LEVEL IN ANGAT DAM DIPS BELOW CRITICAL LEVEL! 
As of 6:00 AM today, the water level in Angat Dam, Metro Manila’s major water source already went down to 159.93 meters (below the 160-meter critical level). 
Without any significant rainfall (100 mm/24 hr) expected this week, the water level is expected to continue going down and might even reach its historical lowest level of 157.56 meters (July 2010). Credit: Earth Shaker

Clean drinking water is a human right. But what are we doing to uphold this right? It’s sad how we don’t put too much value on what nature offers. It’s practically free. But in return, we destroy the very thing we need for survival.

Post-apocalyptic scenarios come to mind – of dessert landscapes; of riots, and power play, and killings over water; of water everywhere but not a drop to drink…

Well, we could resort to drinking treated poo water, like what is being done in Namibia; or maybe consume desalinated water if we could afford the technology. But for now, what we can actually do is to conserve water, plant a tree or two, and keep water bodies clean. Is this too much to ask?

 

I just want to get home!

The heaven was angry. It poured rain upon us all. Maybe the plants needed watering? But I thought they were already drowning.

I waited for a while. Hoping the rain would let up. It just won’t stop.

So I braved the storm. Got soaking wet. Tried to get a cab. Couldn’t get one. So I walked on.

Then I saw all the cars unmoving. And all these people just standing. Still waiting for the sky to stop crying?

And lo and behold, the road is a river of filthy, black flood waters. Cars don’t dare drive through it. The crowd is not keen at wading in its waist deep tributary.

The rain finally stopped. And we stood there, helpless, not knowing what to do. And we waited. For the water to submerge. For some form of transport – like a rickshaw or a make-shift boat made from Styrofoam.

The water started to recede. Ever so slowly. We waited. Thirty minutes. One hour. My legs got tired from standing.

“How am I supposed to get home?” I heard someone yell.

What the heck, just go! And so I did! I walked as if treading through the flood water didn’t bother me. I walked surprised how okay I was with it all. I walked until I got home.

Buhay Maynila

Maynila – magulo, marumi, maingay, mainit, masalimuot. Pero dinadayo. Nandito kasi ang pera. Hindi naman tayo mukhang pera pero kailangan kumayod para mabuhay. Wala ng libre. Magastos at mahal lahat.

Noong una, tuwing nagagawi ako rito, palagi akong nagta-taxi mula bus terminal hanggang destinasyon ko. Tapos taxi ulit pabalik sa terminal. So hindi ako masyadong na-expose sa kung paano talaga ang buhay dito. Medyo paranoid din kasi ako. Mapanganib daw ang lugar, eh.

Ngunit ngayong Manila boy na ako, na-realize kong hindi naman unsafe and lugar. Wag ka lang tatanga-tanga. Dapat madiskarte ka. At marunong magpanggap. Kapag umasta ako dito, may kasamang angas. Iyong confidence ba. At tipong alam mo ang ginagawa mo, o alam mo kung saan ka pupunta kahit sa totoo lang eh clueless ka. Kung hindi, pagti-tripan ka, lolokohin, o kakainin ng buhay.

Laking Baguio ako kung saan malamig. Pero eventually, nasanay na ako sa init. May choice ba ako? Well, generally flexible naman tayo. Madaling mag-adjust.  Nakasanayan ko na rin iyong ingay at gulo. Iyong mga sasakyang trip lang bumusina kahit wala namang point kasi sobrang ma-traffic. Iyong di mo sure kung saan ang loading at unloading zone. Dapat maliksi ka. Sampa sa jeep o bus. Kapit nang mabuti dahil haharurot na ang sasakyan maski di ka pa nakakaupo. Isiksik mo ang sarili mo. Banggahin mo ang ibang tao. Kanya-kanya na ito.

Matututo ka ring maging insensitive o selfish o walang pakialam. Ang hirap magbigay ng upuan sa babae o nakatatanda dahil mamamanhid ang paa mo kakatayo kung malayo pa ang destinasyon mo. Oo nakatayo ka. Kasi ipagpipilitan ng konduktor na “maluwag pa, at makakaupo.” Pero wala na talagang space. Bakit ba natin tino-tolerate ito? No choice nanaman.

Siksikang parang sardinas. Lalo na kung sasakay ka ng MRT. Para kayong naglalaro ng “Doctor Quack-Quack.” Ni hindi ka makagalaw. Tapos maya-maya’y may mararamdaman kang parang may humahawak sa bulsa mo. So hindi mo alam ko dinudukutan ka o hinihipuan lang.

Over populated na talaga tayo. Pero lumingon ka sa kanan, may buntis. Sa kaliwa, isa pang buntis na may kalong na sanggol at may paslit pang nakahawak sa duster niya. Kung sino pa iyong kita mong hirap na hirap palamunin ang mga anak, iyon pa iyong anak ng anak. Sabi ng kaibigan kong NGO worker, kung hindi ma-satisfy ang basic need na kumain, they would resort to something else. Alam mo na iyon.

So saan ang bagsak ng mga batang ito? Sa lansangan. Madungis. Hindi lang itsura, pati mga dila. Ang gagaling magmura. Imbes na pagpasok sa eskuwela ang inaatupag, paglimos at paghingi ang tanging ginagawa.

Speaking of paglilimos, nag-evolve na rin ang paghingi ng pera. Mayroong may sobre. Mayroong magra-rap. Mayroong may supporting docs ng namatay na kamag-anak at permit daw mula sa barangay. Mayroong may kasamang may kapansanan o baby para dagdag awa effect. May mangangaral mula sa Bibliya, may magba-barker. Iyong mga barkers, ang lalakas ng loob kung mag-demand ng “professional fee.” As if di marunong magbasa ng mga tao at di nila alam ang sasakyang jeep.

Magrereklamo ka sa dumi at panghi ng paligid. Paano’y wala ngang pakialam ang mga tao. Kung saan-saan nagtatapon ng basura. Kung may basurahan naman, aba’y punung-puno na. At dahil madiskarte, no problem kung ihing-ihi. Basta may pader. Maski nga wala. Maski sa sidewalk. Maski nakikita ng madla ang ano mo. Walang pakialamanan!

May mga lugar namang malinis. Tulad ng Makati at Quezon City. Pero kadalasan, mga lugar ito para sa mga sosyal at pa-bourgeois.

Maynila – magulo, marumi, maingay, mainit, masalimuot. Not for the faint of heart, ika nga. Pero masasanay ka rin.