San Juan celebrates ‘Wattah Wattah’ Festival amid water shortage

MANILA The San Juan City government on Monday celebrated Wattah Wattah Festival, in honor of its patron St. John the Baptist, amid water shortage in some areas of the metropolis.

Randy Parkucho, a fireman, said the dousing of water every June 24 has been a tradition and is impossible to stop even when there is a water shortage.

"We're first time volunteers from Sta. Ana, Manila. Nilimitahan naman ng Manila Water ang tubig na ibinigay sa amin dahil sa water problem pero utos naman ng mayora ng San Juan na sumali kami sa basaan. Talagang limitado lang ang tubig, 300 gallons lang ang tankernamin (The Manila Water provided us with limited water but San Juan Mayor told us to join. The water is limited, our tanker carries only 300 gallons of water)," Parkucho said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

Outgoing San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez said adjustments have been made for the celebration because of the water problem which affected around 80 percent of San Juan.

"Before, we had 50 fire trucks coming from Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and other places, but now they managed to send just a few, around 16 trucks, and apart from the motorcade, these trucks are going around the barangays, giving water to those who do not have water," Gomez said.

Meanwhile, Monsignor Vicente Bauson said that water is not wasted during the "basaan" because it signifies the blessing of life.

"This water is about cleansing, bringing new life. We would just like to moderate the use of water and promote the right use of water in this time of water crisis because water is life and we bless people with water," Bauson said.

Gomez said water concessionaire Manila Water has responded to the shortage in the past days by bringing down the areas with severe water shortage to only 10 percent.

"Those in the highest points are the only ones they haven't serviced yet, but they're (Manila Water) doing their best," she added.

The dousing of water from the fire trucks lasted for four hours.

"Even if you don't have fire trucks, people will still douse everybody with water na noong araw kung saan-saan lang nakukuha, ang maruming tubig kaya nagagalit ang iba (which came from different sources, some are dirty water so other people get mad). But because now the water has been blessed, they have accepted that water is life, it is a blessing, and so we must take care of it," Gomez said.

For 16 years now, the San Juan City government has been celebrating the festival with 'watercade,' Santong Tao parade, photography contest, novena mass, bingo, water caravan, Zumba session, street dance and inter-street dance competitions. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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