TM Reynoso / Photos by Rey M. Vida
Images of Infanta
was my first time to visit Infanta, a coastal town in the northern
Quezon Province along the eastern seaboard of Luzon facing the
Pacific about 130 kilometers southeast of Metro Manila.
impression of Infanta before my visit was that of a quaint, rustic
little seaside fishing town with long sandy beaches constantly
beaten by huge waves of foaming, crystal-clear Pacific seawater
while set against the formidable backdrop of the rugged rainforest
ranges of the Sierra Madre mountains.
impression of Infanta was that of an isolated coastal community
made up mostly of fisherfolk which PAGASA-the national weather
bureau--- usually cited as an unflattering reference point whenever
tropical storms and strong typhoons spawned by the northwest monsoon
threaten or pass through the country.
impressions and images of Infanta were magnified many times when
late in 2004, a typhoon locally code-named " Winnie"
dumped what weather experts estimated as a month's quantity of
rainfall on Infanta and its surrounding areas in just 24 hours.
Freak Storm :Typhoon Winnie Puts Infanta In Disaster Map
"Winnie"'s continuous torrential downpour triggered
massive landslides along the slopes of the Sierra Madre overlooking
the so-called REINA (Real-Infanta-Nakar) triangle of coastal towns.
Masses of logs, uprooted trees, loose rocks and dirt and other
debris accumulated along in various points of the slope trapping
huge amounts of rain water and thereby creating some sorts of
dams. When water pressure build up to breaking point , those giant
"dam-like" formations suddenly broke loose sending tons
of water rushing towards Infanta at the speed of a tsunami or
Water District's interim general manager Engineer Mario "Macky"
Macatangay of LWUA (left) with the author in one of the district's
ensuing two-storey high flashfloods that swept through many areas
of Infanta resulted into hundreds of deaths and injured and tens
of millions pesos worth of crops, properties and structures damaged
or totally destroyed.
destruction scene in Infanta as shown on TV would flash on my
mind some years later when a huge tsunami spawned by a strong
undersea quake engulfed and devastated coastal communities in
countries as Sri Lanka and Bangla Desh along the Indian Ocean
and reaching as far as Bali and Bandar Ache in Indonesia and Phuket
in Thailand. As in those places, the surface of most of Infanta
was virually stripped of vegetation and structures and in their
places were tons after tons of accumulated forest debris and mud.
a massive rehabilitation effort was undertaken by the national
government with the support and assistance of foreign and international
agencies but many observers said that it would take years or even
decades before Infanta could recover.
Lining: Infanta Recovers, Makes New Bid For Int'l Sea Port
was therefore surprised---pleasantly surprised---- to see an entirely
different scene in Infanta in my recent first visit!
is virtually buzzing and bustling with activities, especially
commercial activities in and around the poblacion area with people
going about the regular normal routine of going to work, school,
hawking and trading or just simply strolling or hanging or looking
around particularly in the town's new multi-level market place
and in various eateries and shops situated in a quite vast commercial
block in the town center.
fish traders show off the kind of fish available from Infanta's
fishport which the town is bidding for conversion into an
internatioal seaport; below, a fruit and vegetable vendor
at the town's bustling market
could not discern in the look of the people's faces or in their
demeanor that a cataclysmic event happened there less than 10
clear sign that Infanta has not only recovered but also on its
way to making another strong bid for its conversion to an international
sea port facing the Pacific is the construction of the Marikina-Infanta
Road which is now nearing completion. The Marikina-Infanta Road
will cut travel time to and from Metro Manila from the present
three to four hours depending on the weather condition to half
municipal government under the tested and inspiring leadership
of Mayor Filipina Grace America has also consistently dove-tailed
its plans and projects with the eventual attainment and fulfillment
of the cherished dream that started in the 1970s yet for the Philippines,
specifically the island of Luzon, to have an international sea
port facing the Pacific.
America said that having an international port in Infanta would
allow local and foreign shipping plying the Pacific route to load
and unload goods and products or make port calls without having
to sail around Luzon just to reach the existing international
sea ports in Manila and Batangas City facing the China Sea.
It also help that the Quezon provincial government has been pouring
ordinate development assistance to Infanta and surrounding municipalities
since the 2004 natural disaster.
Lining: Infanta Quezon Water District Weathers Stern Trials
One of the institutions in Infanta that was also severely hit
by the 2004 calamity which has not only remarkably recovered but
even managed to prosper and even expand its operation is the Infanta
Quezon Water District or more endearly known to the locals as
it took another "setback" in the form of a management
crisis which prompted the direct intervention and takeover by
the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to accelerate
the process of recovery and prime the water district towards more
gains and accomplishments to its benefit and the greater good
of the community.
Infanta Quezon WD's Board of Directors implemented an innovative
approach to recovery from losses brought about by the devastating
November 2004, the municipality of Infanta was savagely devastated
by Typhoon "Winnie". It brought severe flooding aggravated
even more by the debris which consisted of logs and uprooted trees
and the thick mud that resulted to severe loss of lives and extensive
damage to properties.
water district was not spared from the devastation. The IQWD sustained
and declared a total loss of P7.2M worth of assets and which became
the subject of an application for write-off with COA.
those inundated and severly affected by the flood were three (3)
of four (4) water sources/pumping stations including the one with
the highest capacity in terms of production and which was constructed
and completed by virtue of a P4.2M Level 3 loan from LWUA. Its
building together with the generator set and discharge lines were
totally damaged by the flood. The service lines in the whole Poblacion
area were likewise destroyed including thousands of water meters
which were later replaced and/or repaired.
continuous expansion projects attest to the district's unbroken
employees, thru sheer determination, worked hard without salaries
for three months to revive and rehabilitate the water district.
They survived on the grace of donations from friends and fellow
workers from other water districts and for quite some time they
rely on noodles and canned foods to fill their empty stomachs.
WD was able to rehabilitate Pumping Station No. 3 and with both
Pumping Station Nos. 3 and 4 working, the IQWD was able to restore
water service to a greater portion of the Poblacion and its environs.
IQWD also received donations from the German Government which
included the construction of an elevated building, centrifugal
pump, controls and a gen set, for pumping station no. 1 However,
Pumping Station No. 1 which was built during the NAWASA years
yet had to be de-commissioned since its (spring) water source
could no longer provide the needed water requirement of the pump
aside from the other minerals that have been tested to be contaminating
to lengthy stoppage of operations as a result of the calamity,
the IQWD was forced to default on the payment of its obligations
with LWUA and other creditors including remittances of employee
contributions with GSIS. The IQWD was not granted moratorium by
the GSIS despite the appeal and instead charges were filed with
the Ombudsman and the National Judicial Region of Pasay City against
the IQWD aside from the suspension of the employees benefits.
Fortunately, the suspension of employees benefits was later lifted
by the GSIS.
of the typhoon-damaged bridge to keep Infanta's commerce going
help the IQWD, it was included by LWUA in the short list of about
60 small water districts as possible beneficiaries of the P:5M
grant from the Japanese Inetrnational Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Unfortunately, the water district was not able to meet certain
parameters set-up by JICA and was instead complimented with a
set of computer and a copying machine courtesy of JICA.
December 2006, heavy rainfall again swelled the Agos River. It
flooded several barangays nestled closest to the Agos River and
several low lying areas in the Poblacion. The towns people feared
that it will replicate the flooding in 2004, fortunately the flooding
was far from being dangerous. Nonetheless, a huge tree trunk inundated
by the swelling of Agos River felled the electric pole destroying
the transformers supplying IQWD Pumping Station 3. It took nearly
four (4) months before power was restored with a staggering cost
to the water district.
on the second quarter of 2007, one of the water district's two
(2) operating pumping station manifested sand pumping to an alarming
level. The WD immediately sought technical assistance from LWUA
which recommended the immediate pull-out of the pump and suggested
measures to address the problem. For over a month the well was
inoperable. The installation of a shroud to shield the pump and
motor against sand pumping proved to be effective and except for
one (1) minor repair in the third quarter of 2007, the well operated
series of events contributed much to the failure of the WD to
comply with the payment proposal to update the loan arrearages
with LWUA. Then, on December 12, 2007, the then incumbent GM Luis
C. Utulo tendered his irrevocable resignation due to his irreconcilable
differences with the Board of Directors. The Board accepted his
resignation and also requested for LWUA intervention thru management
Jan. 15, 2008, LWUA installed Engineer Mario " Macky"
Macatangay as Interim General Manager and that proved to be a
significant turning point as far as the fortunes of the IQWD is
Lining: LWUA's Direct Intervention-Steering IQWD Back On Track
Engineer Mario " Macky" Macatangay as Interim
General Manager proved to be a turning point for IQWD in terms
of its fortunes
IGM Macky came, two pumping stations were operational with a combined
capacity of 50 lps. However, non revenue water was significantly
high at 48%, thus, rehabilitation of the existing system was necessary
to reduce the NRW. There were bout 3,100 active service connections
which accounted for about P1.0M monthly billings. However, accounts
payable to suppliers still remained at about P2.0M while loan
arrearages with LWUA was placed at P2.67M as of March 2008.
IGM Macky, the IQWD sought financial relief thru loan re-structuring
from LWUA, and committed to implement Programs of Works (POWs)
for the reduction of NRW to an acceptable level of 25% and for
improvement and expansion of the system as well as increasing
production to meet the projected increase in water demand. The
program of works was to be implemented yearly starting CY 2008
IGM Macky also implemented expansion projects in collaboration
with the LGU and the barangays. Under this scheme, the concerned
barangays allocated portion of their Internal Revenue Allotment
(IRA) for use by the water district in extending potable water
service to their constituents. The said IRA portion advanced by
the barangay shall be paid back by the IQWD in equal monthly installments
over a perod of five years commencing after generating at least
ten service connections in the expansion area. The LGU also contributed
financially to these expansion projects of the IQWD. However,
the LGU counterpart was treated as equity contributions not subject
to repayment by the water district.
signs of a community trusing an active water supply provider:
fire hydrants and water meters
a result of this innovative program, the IQWD was able to extend
potable water service to twenty barangays including their sitios
and puroks which were previously unserved. Out of the total of
36 barangays in Infanta, 34 are now fully or substantially served
by the IQWD. Service connections has increased from 3,100 in December
2008 to 4,300 by December 2011.
GM Macky's adept stewardship and prudent financial management,
the WD has managed to reduce accounts payables to suppliers, pay
its arrearages with the local electric cooperative, pay monetization
of leave credits of employees and pay the arrearages in contributions
with GSIS, Pagibig and Philhealth. With the additional revenues
generated with the implementation of the approved water rates,
the WD went on to further reduce its account payable with the
suppliers and at the same time implement programs for the reduction
of NRW and expansion of the system.
IQWD also availed of a P22.5 million loan from LWUA under the
Non-LWUA Initiative Fund program for additional source development,
electro-mechanical equipment, rehabilitation of existing system
and clustering of service connections. Out of a total loan allocation,
only P13.1 million was released by LWUA but the IQWD was able
to complete its approved program of work utilizing its own funds.
Upon completion, the water district's non-revenue water was dramatically
reduced resulting to increased system pressure and improved level
the time of GM Macky's third year in 2010, the key performance
indicators were getting better and with the approval of the LWUA
financial relief, the IQWD was in a better fiscal shape vis a
vis its obligations to LWUA.
importantly,with the rehabilitation, improvement and expansion
effected with the support of the NLIF loan from LWUA, the IQWD
has all but left behind the adverse effects and the setbacks caused
by the November 2004 tragedy on the water district and its operation.