Cebu is waiting and praying for the grace of water
By Fe Marie Dumaboc, Reporter
Photos by Junjie Mendoza, Staff Photographer
Grade four pupil Jerold Dabuco spends at least four hours a day waiting for water.
The 11-year-old boy stands by a tank two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon to fill up six plastic gallons with water from a spring in barangay Babag II, Cebu City.
Jerold, the sixth of 11 siblings, knows the routine is necessary for the daily needs of his family.
This has been his routine since March, when the El Niño phenomenon started to peak, parching wells and farms.
While he was being interviewed by Cebu Daily News , the boy had already spent two hours waiting by a tank of water fed by a spring.
As he was about to fill up the fourth of six gallons, the water suddenly stopped flowing.
“Mopaabot gyud ko dire hangtod mapuno ni tanan. Pero ihinay-hinay ko nag hatod ang ubang gallon sa balay ( I have to wait until these are all filled. But I’ll bring them slowly to the house),” Dabuco said.
He usually lines up at the spring in sitio Maling, barangay Babag II from 8 to 10 in the morning and from 5 to 8 in the evening.
The lanky four-foot lad walks the 500 meter distance from his house for his daily summer chore.
Lourdes Gabucan, 70, who lives nearby, said that some residents sleep near the tank at night to wait to fill their containers.
“Hinay na gud kaayo ang agas, usahay mapalong pa gyud, mao mopaabot gyud intawn sila (The flow is very slow and sometimes stops. That’s why people really have to wait for it),” Gabucan said.
A river in barangay Bonbon has already dried up allowing vehicles and people to cross the riverbed.
Juanita Labaritos, 21, married, grew up in the barangay and remembers having to pull up her skirt when she crossed to the other side of the river as a grade school and high school student.
Sometimes the water was deep. They had to rent a ‘bangka’ and pay P5 to P10 for a ride across.
“Pero karon, mura na gyud ka’g naglakaw ug dan ra. (Nowadays, it seemed that you are walking on a real street),”Labaritos said.
Juvelyn Alperes, 42, who lives near the river, said the river usually dries up during summer but it was worse this year. The river started to dry up earlier in November 2009.
Because of the intense heat, children opted to take a bath in some parts of the river since the water supply could not reach their homes.
Some parts of the big river still has water which is the source of flower farms.
A truck carrying 11 barrels and 4 big gallons, owned by Jaime Chua, had to fetch water 40 meters away from the dried up part of the river where vehicles now pass.
Felix Pasaje, the truck driver, said that Chua owns a one-hectare flower farm in sitio Mahumawan, Babag II which he had cultivated for almost 30 years now. He said the farm has a 500-square meter fishpond that also serves as a rain water catchment.
But two months ago, the fishpond dried up so they now have to get water from the river.
Junmar Mabini, a caretaker of the flower farm owned by Rufino Gacayan in barangay Bonbon, said that almost half of their flowers already died because of the intense heat.
They are now alternate watering parts of the flower beds because of the water scarcity.
“Gi-alternate lang namu, karon bubuan ang half sa area, ang the other half pagkaugma kay kulang man gyud sa tubig,” Mabini said.
Mabini said they preferred to plant golden yellow and wonder white flowers since these flowers can survive in summer even with just little water.
Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) said that its daily water supply had dropped by 15,159.71 cubic meters due to the prolonged El Niño phenomenon which was compounded by rotating brownouts which resumed after the May 10 elections.
MCWD supplies at least 170,000 cubic meters daily as against the daily demand is 172, 873 cubic meters.
In May alone, MCWD was able to supply only 157,714 cubic meters daily.
The Cebu City council last Wednesday approved a resolution appropriating P3.46 million for the construction of artesian wells in 10 barangays to augment water supply. The amount will be charged to the calamity fund.
The artesian wells will be built in upland barangays Talamban, Mabini, Sinsin, Pung-ol Sibugay, Binaliw, Budlaan, Sirao, Pit-os, Pulangbato and Bacayan.
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