liquid economy

Mano Punie runs a small sari-sari store in San Jose District selling “Tuba” (coconut wine) and tap water among other things. Yes, tap water. The local water utility is unable to accommodate the needs of the local residents in Tacloban City, and so local entrepreneurs quickly stepped in to fill the demand.

Water is sold at P3.00 per water can (approximately 4 gallons). Filled up containers line up the front of mano Punie’s store and everyday pedicab drivers come with empty water cans to be filled with clean tap water. Instead of simply swapping empty containers with new ones, mano Punie has to fill the empty water cans manually. This he does with a steady hand, careful not to spill any of the valuable contents.

For the pedicab drivers, these deliveries provide extra money to augment their meager income. A family of 5 requires around 3 containers of water every 2 days. This water is used exclusively for drinking and preparation of food. Each water can is resold at P7.00. Considering the trip they make to and from their customers to mano Punie’s store, they only earn P4.00 per water can for a round trip to the store which is far less than their regular fare of P5.00 per passenger. The daily earnings of these pedicab drivers are barely enough to feed a large family, but it is honest living for someone who did not have the means or opportunity to finish school.

The pedicab driver on this particular day was a mother of 5; the eldest is 7 years old and the youngest is just 18 months old. She also has twin sons. Hard work has made this woman look older than she actually is, and she could easily be in her 30’s. With already 5 children to feed, she is highly aware of accidentally bearing more children in the future as she cannot afford a permanent fix to the situation.

There are many babies being born everyday, and these children are borne to couples who already have more children than they can afford to send to school. Sadly, these children will end up with lesser opportunities than what their parents had.


8 thoughts on “liquid economy

  1. Hello, Mano Orly! This is mana Rose’s daughter, of Worlds Apart One Heart. It is a pleasure to see your photos and stories, it offers a peek into the true nature of the Philippines. I support my mother’s idea of a book. It would sell wonderfully, I think.

    • hello Daphne, thank you. Yes, I am considering a coffee table book by year end. Will have to see how much it will cost to do the printing; I’m planning to raise funds for charity from the proceeds if all goes well.

  2. Great photos and beautiful, well-written story…as usual. The story makes me feel as if I’m right there inside the photos.

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