The Japanese were dropping bombs from airplanes across Pili, Camarines Sur, the people from the city fled the plains and went to different areas to save themselves, to save their families. Some went to the fields, while the others decided to settle and create homes nearby or at the mountains. However, the safety of one’s life had a price to pay: there was no water.
Barangay del Pilar is one of the barangays that cradled the families who decided to escape the horrors of bombings. It is located at the upper mountain part of Baao, Camarines Sur, and is divided into three zones. As of 2014, it is a home to total number of 75 households with a population of 384.
One of those numbers is Cenederio Lopez. He is 74 years old; he lives alone, and has never left del Pilar since he was born. More than knowing the barangay like the back of an old friend’s hand, it was never in his lifetime that he imaged water would be easily available to them.
“It was really a sacrifice just to fetch water.” Lolo Cenederio recalled that it was a daily dilemma for most of his life, rooting back even when he was still a child. Whenever his family would run out of water supply, his father together with his older brothers would be up before the crack of sunrise, and would go down with containers and a carabao to the resource. Years later and it was still a problem, it became part of the system that Lolo Cenderio became accustomed to.
Because of his old age, he cannot hike the way he did when he was still younger; his energy has already left him to walk for hours. What he would do is to buy from his neighbors a water container worth 20 pesos, however this bargain still comes with a price that would cost him an hour of walk. The situation is simple: it was either he’d walk and carry the containers on his shoulders, pay for it or there would be no water at all.
The travel going down from del Pilar was difficult since it would require roughly nine kilometers of walk back and forth in order to get to the heart ofcity proper of Baao, Camarines Sur, or a five-kilometer hike on a stiff and slipper underdeveloped roads. Safety was compromised in order to get water for taking a bath, or for drinking. If ever none were available, they would wait and pray for the clouds to be dark and a rain would fall to the mercy of the residents. The longest time that the barangay did not experience any rain lasted for about five months. These were the only options of the citizens of Brgy. Del Pilar.
Finally after centuries of only having water resource that is very far, the dangerous and taxing travel of the citizens was reduced from hours to merely a few walks away. It was through the efforts of the community and the Coca-Cola’s The Happiness Foundation that paved the way in getting water supply without compromising the safety of the people.
“I am extremely thankful to God, to our barangay captain, and to Coca-Cola Foundation that a project like this was produced. Without them, we would not have water to drink.” Lolo Cenederio added that instead of paying 20 pesos per container, it was reduced to just two pesos. He found it as a blessing that he would no longer hike or walk or pay a large amount just to get water.
For some it was just a simple project that relocated a resource, but to the citizens of del Pilar, it only proved that there is hope, there is love, and that there is happiness.
Writer: Ma. Teriz S. Castro
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