The Night Plumbers

The night plumbers

          If you live in a 4th class municipality in the Philippines like Manito, Albay then you might as well accept 4th class water services.  Acceptance should not mean resignation, of course.

          One of the great inconveniences (don't miss the understatement) the past months is our domestic water problem.  It is such an annoyance and a mind boggler since the town is rich in water resources.  How many small towns in the country can boast  of 12 out 15 coastal barangays, two major rivers, several tributary streams and water falls and yet have citizens agonizing over domestic and irrigation water?

My wife Nerissa and her brother, Norman, on the bridge over the Kamanitohan river

          The recent road widening of the Department of Public Works and Highways further aggravated the problem the past months.  So many times (including tonight after dinner) my wife and I would go out late at night tracing multiple leaks from the plastic pipes running toward our house.

DPWH workers carelessly dumped meta concrete forms over our plastic water hose

          The routine would be to trace leaks and breaks through open ditches and inside the new concrete canals, saw through the plastic pipes and connect them again using rubber interior purchased from the vulcanizing shop and use them to tie the black pipes together, stretching them hard enough to prevent leaks.  No wonder locals say there are so many plumbers in town.

          My wife would hold the flashlight, cut the tire interior rubber into strips, and hand me through a rain poncho the hack saw, the hammer, pliers or a concrete nail.  This after a long day's work at the computer shop and in the community college.

          Sometimes our consolation would be the moments of laughter in the midst of exhaustion and frustration and the thought that at least we get to do this together.  Sometimes God would force a smile through star-filled nights as we walk home anticipating the triumph of hearing water flowing to our plastic drums.

          Life can get so frustrating, yes.  But with God and with her beside me, I guess we could try to squeeze all the joy out of it if  only to see life as everything but mundane.


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