As always, the first time is an exciting experience. The thought of seeing new places, tourist destinations, new acquaintances and many possibilities that await us at unfamiliar destinations all add up to a euphoric expectation that travel unfailingly brings.
Together with Eugene Tayobana and Jorge Romero, our engineers at the maintenance and production division, we were on an official travel to Bayawan City, Negros Oriental to observe and acquaint ourselves with the detailed procedure of desludging human waste from their septic tanks and the unloading of the same into the septage treatment facility of the city.
Virac Water District is a recipient of a Septage Treatment Plant project subsidy from the Department of Public Works and Highways. Construction of the facility is now completed and the tentative schedule for its operation has been set to start in the first quarter of this year.
The operation and the maintenance of a septage facility is a novel endeavor to us farfetched from our regular task of providing potable water to our customers. It thus become imperative that we exhaust efforts to equip our manpower with an irreproachable skills and unquestionable knowledge in the operation and maintenance of the same.
Incidentally, Bayawan City’s septage treatment facility bears identical specifications as that of our newly constructed septage plant so the travel to this southern City became our choice.
We spent our first night in Negros Oriental at a hotel in Dumaguete City from where we boarded a passenger van, early morning the following day, on our way to Bayawan City.
It took us some two hours and a few minutes to reach our destination – Bayawan City Water District. As soon as we had introduced ourselves to the guard on duty, Madam Ginalyn Piosca, the District Administrative Division Manager, came rushing to meet us at the door and she wasted no time introducing us to smiling, jolly district employees as she led us to the Office of the General Manager Alma L. Abrasaldo. Unluckily the former PAWD President was on an official travel understandably• Madam Ginalyn is the officer in-charge. We were treated to a merienda of coffee and a choice of softdrinks with a matching Bayawan City’s exclusive native delicacy called Baybaye. My tastebuds became enamored to the food concoction that I inquired where we may buy and ordered several dozen as pasalubong back home.
At the first instance we observed that the host water district has a well-ventilated, properly lit and an orderly working place. No wonder employees are all-smiles.
One thing though that caught our special attention and spawned our admiration was the presence of a drive-through pay-window were customers in their car, conveniently settle their bills with no need of alighting from their vehicle much like customer buying at the famous fried chicken chain.
When we were almost finished with our merienda, Engr. Reno John Tuale, the Production Division Manager arrived then drove us in the district’s pick-up truck to the. hotel for a two-night stay. It was already lunch time when we checked-in at the hotel so we decided to have our meal. To our surprise, when we asked the bill for our lunch, the waiter told us it was already paid by Engr. Tuale. The same display of hospitality was repeated when we had our dinner at the seaside restaurant along the long seashore of the city. This time Administrative Division Manager Ginalyn surreptitiously paid the bill even as we were only half-finished with our meal.
Very early the following morning, Engr. Reno was already waiting to accompany us observed and had on-hand participation in actual house-to-house desludging process. When the suction truck is filled to its capacity, the waste content is transported to Septage Treatment Facility, few kilometers far. We also observed the actual unloading of the human waste down the septage system. On-hand participation provided us ample knowledge and skill in the proper operation of a septage treatment facility.
Bayawan septage treatment plant is adjacent to the city’s landfill site which occupies a portion of a vast track of land measuring some 27 hectares acquired by the city government exclusively for its waste management.
Despite the enormous volume of garbage dumped at the landfill and the several truckloads of septic waste unloaded daily into the septage treatment plant, surroundings of these two waste treatment facilities never exude foul odors. Maintenance of these facilities includes growing of llang ilang trees, bignay, narra and other sweet smelling flowering trees which serve to nose out undesirable odors that the daily truckloads of waste deliveries bring.
Our next destination was a visit to a solar-powered water filtration system in a remote barangay of the city. According to Engr. Tuale, the facility was a donation from the government of the Netherland. We were astonished that from the murky, dirty and almost chocolate-colored turbid waters of the small river, the filtration system transforms the dirty waters into crystal-clear clean drinking water. We had a sip of this water and it had similar quality as the bottled water I had with me.
I felt envious of the lucky fortune of Bayawan City Water District – being a recipient of a modern filtration system from a magnanimous donor country is indeed a stroke of luck. Very few receive this kind of blessing.
Another gift which the lucky water district enjoys is that the city government of Bayawan and Bayawan City Water District have a BIG and LITTLE SISTERS relationship. We were informed that the LGU of Bayawan City appropriated some Php 17 million which financed expansion program of the water district extending its water service connections to several barangay enabling the district to achieve a remarkable 98% active service connections of the total barangay under its mandated area of coverage.
Also, big sister Bayawan City turned over independent barangay water systems to little sister water district which afforded said barangay same safe and steady supply of potable water enjoyed by the districts long time customers.
What is more fascinating is our discovery that Bayawan City is populated by a well-disciplined citizenry. Every street and corner around the city is clean and free from any accumulating garbage. In fact, we have not seen any piece of garbage. Also, we have not witnessed any person smoking in public places. The city is tidy and orderly all over.
While in the plane homeward bound, I became pensive, sadly imaginative with thoughts and questions… why our local government in Catanduanes have a cold, uncaring attitude towards clean and potable water for the constituency? Why cannot they be like the LGU Bayawan City which espouses in their agenda unsolicited assistance for the improvement of water districts — the agency task to serve steady supply of affordable potable water?
In Catanduanes all six water districts do not receive assistance from local government. What is given to water districts here is a shivering coldness of apathy and disregard with the final coup de grace called local Franchise Tax.