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Sixth day without water in parts of Metro Manila

It’s every man for himself as residents wait, sometimes in vain, for firetrucks
Sixth day without water in parts of Metro Manila

WAIT YOUR TURN Fights among people waiting in line, a Mandaluyong resident says, are common. They argue over who is first in line and how many containers one can fill up. —Joan Bondoc

Residents in parts of Metro Manila marked their sixth consecutive day without water on Tuesday, with most of them locked in a waiting game with water-bearing trucks that may or may not arrive.

The streets of Pasig and Mandaluyong — the hardest-hit cities in the metropolis — were teeming with long lines of people carrying empty pails under the scorching heat.

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Nerisa Aranas, a resident of Barangay Barangka Drive, Mandaluyong City, had been in line for four hours when the village’s lone firetruck arrived at 11:30 a.m.

But the water ran out after less than one-third of those in line were served, and she had no choice but to wait for its return.

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“I had to stop working because all my time is spent waiting here,” said Aranas, who used to sell food in front of her home. “My six grandchildren can’t even bathe.”

Edna Elamparo, a resident of nearby Barangay Hulo, said firetrucks that passed by their area, often at odd times, sometimes could not even provide drinkable water.

“But it’s better than nothing,” she added.

She said that whenever a firetruck’s siren could be heard, her sleepy street would promptly transform as residents, including young kids, swarmed out of their houses in unison “like a colony of ants.”

Panic, then arguments

The panic, she observed, often gave way to fights about who could go first, or whether someone could fill up more than one drum.

“It’s survival,” she said. “Every man for himself.”

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Judith Barojabo, a kagawad at Barangka Drive, said her personal water woes were compounded by the need to keep watch over residents who queued throughout the village.

“The entire night and day, we need to man the lines to ensure there’s an orderly system, that there is no chaos or confrontations,” Barojabo said.

Reynaldo said tenants of Tivoli Garden Residences, also located in Hulo, had resorted to taking water from the swimming pool after the condominium’s own tank ran dry.

“I hope those who are still enjoying water will use it wisely,” Elamparo said. “In my 66 years, there’s been times when water pressure was weak, but it was never completely gone. Unlike now—we are like beggars. We would consider using even dirty water.”

Hospitals not spared

Even hospitals, including VRP Medical Center in Mandaluyong and Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City, were also experiencing shortages, and began advising patients to use water sparingly.

The Philippine Red Cross sent four water tankers and two firetrucks to Rizal Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon in a bid to replenish the government-run hospital’s dwindling water supply, which had forced it to limit its operations.

In Pasig, 25 of its 30 barangays were affected by Manila Water Co. Inc.’s water adjustment scheme. Thirteen of 27 Mandaluyong barangays, on the other hand, were hit.

Coleen Joaquin, who operates a dental clinic at Barangay Highway Hills in Mandaluyong, said her business might need to shut down if the shortage continued, citing how vital running water was to nearly every dental procedure.

“I might have to find another source of income so I can take care of my elderly mother,” said Joaquin, adding that the interruptions had “crippled” her financially. To save on water, she had forced herself to drink only “in sips,” she added.

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