Water Stewardship Story

A Miracle In A Bottle

Hope is part of the human nature. There is something within us that wants to reach out for the future, towards somewhere we do not know yet. We keep on hoping for things to happen even if we do not know if it will truly happen, because humans believe that if it is fulfilled then they will be contented. But what if hope is suddenly gone? What if we are already hoping forlornly? What will keep us going?

After three terms of being the Kapitan of Barangay Imelda in Bato, Leyte, 57-year-old Jose Piñaranda already lost his hope that water will arrive in their community.

For several years they were asking help from the government about the scarcity of water, but nothing happened. “This is why I no longer hope that the day will arrive when we will no longer go down the mountain just to get water,” he said.

Before dawn strikes, the locals will go down the mountain bringing two containers each. The men will trek for 15 long minutes, while the women for 30 minutes along the 900 meters steep course of the mountain down to the river in order to get fresh water for the community.

Difficult times are no stranger for Barangay Imelda, every summer, drought happens because of El Niño. The amount of water in the river dwindles, leading the locals to find the nearest well in their barangay. It was crucial for them to have water not only for their survival, but also for their livelihood such as corn, sweet potato, and coconut.

Until one day when Barangay Imelda’s previous councillor, Gilbert, saw on a social media platform that Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines supplies water to communities that does not have direct access to water.

As the months passed by, the water still did not reach their community, but all the other four communities near them who also had the same issue were solved. This made Kapitan Jose lose hope, for he thought that the other barangays were more accessible and it was impossible since they were located at the top of the mountain.

Not until in 2015, a miracle happened as the daily struggles finally ended when the Agos Ram Pump Project of the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines together with Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) helped alleviate the water scarcity of the barangay.

[The elders] consider the arrival of the water brought by Coca-Cola Foundation in our community as a miracle,” Kapitan Jose said in high spirits.

For more than half of their lives, they were going up and down the mountain just to get and provide water for the community; but now they have tap stands where they can access fresh water easily.

“I never thought that I will still be alive when I will witness that our community can have an easy access to fresh water,” Kapitan Jose happily added.

In this community, more than 80 households are being supplied with fresh water daily from the reservoir tank that can hold up to 5000 cubic meters. It collects a certain percentage of water from the spring that will be delivered through the pipes going to the to the reservoir tank that supplies 552 community members. In order to bring water to the upland community, the ram pump pushes the spring water through hydraulic pressure.

“Back then most of the kids were not always taking a bath since the water is only limited; now that we have an easy access to water, the kids take a bath regularly and the locals are very hygienic,” Kapitan Jose jokingly said.

On the average today, Coca-Cola’s Agos Ram Pump Project chooses 40 sites a year to help alleviate the water scarcity in the Philippines, with its global goal to give back every drop of water it uses in the production of its beverages back to the community and nature.

Today, the locals can easily function in their community without the need to migrate to another community who have an easier access to water. “I am still here together with my wife even if all my siblings migrated to Manila, because I know if I migrate there I will surely miss my home,” he added.

“My only wish now is to maintain the easy access to water, and that Coca-Cola will continue to help other barangays because this has been a soul-stirring miracle for us,” Kapitan Jose emotionally said.

In the long run, there will come a point in each and everyone’s life when you will lose all hope; but deep down within yourself you are still hoping for a miracle because it is still part of the human nature and “hope springs eternal.” In the case of Kapitan Jose, miracle came in the form of Coca-Cola.

Writer: Christopher Daniel Reyes

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