Water is one of the most basic of human necessities. It sustains all life forms on earth and the United Nations even recognizes access to clean water and sanitation as a human right. But in many places around the world, especially in some underserved areas here in the Philippines, access to water is still a problem that severely impacts the quality of life of many people.
Recognizing the important role of water in the health and well-being of underprivileged communities around the country, Mercury Drug Foundation, Inc. (MDFI) has been undertaking Operation Pa-Tubig since 2001.
One of the most recent communities that benefited from the said program is Sitio Sampaloc, Brgy. Tandang Kutyo, Tanay, Rizal. For more than five decades, Sitio Sampaloc has not had access to clean and potable water for their various needs. Residents needed to walk more than 1.5 Km to Daranak Falls to fetch water for their families. And this trek to and from their nearest water source is made much more difficult by the fact that the residents need to go down and climb a steep slope.
“Kapag nag-iigib kasi, kung may kalabaw, magkakalabaw. Pero balikat talaga yung sasakit kasi bubuhatin mo yung tubig (When we’re fetching water If there’s a carabao we can ride on, we do that. But when that’s unavailable, we need to carry the containers of water and that can really make your shoulders hurt.),” Rogelio Ribano, the local Purok Leader said.
Now, through MDFI’s Operation Pa-Tubig, what was once a chore that took several hours to complete is now a relatively effortless process, with 15 taps made available to meet all the needs of the residents of Sitio Sampaloc.
“By providing water to the residents of Sitio Sampaloc, we are helping uplift their living condition and address their need for health and sanitation, all while improving their quality of life,” Alice Lumanog, member of MDFI’s Board of Trustees, said.
Lumanog also added that the project also directly benefits the children of Sitio Sampaloc who are most often tasked with fetching water. Through the project, kids who used to fetch water need not strain their backs, miss school, and walk through treacherous terrain just for clean water.
“Nagpapasalamat kami kasi sa dinami-rami ng komunidad, kami ang napili, kasi matagal na talaga kaming walang tubig, ngayon hindi na namin kailangan lumakad nang malayo para sa tubig (We’re so thankful because our community was chosen. For such a long time we didn’t have water, now we don’t need to walk far for water.),” Purok Leader Ribano said.
Aside from building tap stands and other necessary infrastructure to provide water to underserved communities, MDFI also provides community members with the necessary training to maintain and manage the water system through the help of Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSB).
In Sitio Sampaloc, the community has agreed to form a water organization that will manage the water system and ensure the tap stands’ upkeep.
Since Operation Pa-Tubig’s inception in 2001, MDFI has been able to help 25 communities and more than 23,000 people around the Philippines without direct access to water. Through the project, MDFI has been able to transform thousands of lives by ensuring that they have safe and clean water whenever they need it.
For more information about Operation Pa-Tubig please visit, https://www.mercurydrugfoundation.org/operation-pa-tubig.html.