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Antonio M. Reyes

My New Year's Resolution

It’s a new year again, and another chance to transform ourselves, into an improved version of what we were last year.

I think the reason why so many of us fail to attain this goal is because we make too many promises, and in the process, forget what our main goal was.

To offset this nuance, I’ve decided to limit my New Year’s Resolutions to only one, and that is, to become a better writer and person than I am now.

This may sound simple, but it isn’t, because it requires changing my way of life. A good start, however, would be to accept the fact that I am no longer as young as used to be and must pace myself accordingly.

To attain this, I will try to: Enjoy life more. As we get older we usually become grouchier, meaner, and more demanding. So instead of feeling this way, I will count my blessings and thank God, for all the priceless gifts he has given me

Take better care of myself. I’ll start by being more selective in the food I eat and cut-down on my drinking.More than 112,000 people die each year from obesity, so I must get rid of my beer-belly, not only because I’ll look better - but will live longer too.

Spend more time with my wife. I will devote more time for my wife Gloria and really listen to what she says.For listening is a way of showing how much you value her advice and company.

Continue being relevant. The late Steve Jobs, the co-founder of the Apple computer company used to tell his executives that when he looked into his bathroom mirror each morning, he would ask himself; “If this was the last day of my life, would I be doing what I am doing now? If your answer is Yes, keep doing it. But if it’s not, find something else to devote your life to.”

Help others. There is nothing as fulfilling as helping others who need it for it’s really more blessed to give than to receive. All our national heroes were “givers” and if we followed their example, I’m sure our country would be better for it.

Strive to be more approachable. A wonderful thing about a new year is that it gives one the chance to re-invent himself. So this year I will try to be more approachable. Meaning, I will try to change the image I have portrayed since we arrived here 15 years ago as the; arrogant, abrasive and alien speaking visitor who happened to be in the right place, but at the wrong time.

In other words, it’s no fun being a “recluse” despite what my friend former Congressman Aniceto Saludo says.

Happy New Year!

Antonio M. Reyes is the publisher and editor of the Southern Leyte Times the largest circulating newspaper & website in Southern Leyte.

Cebu Water Crisis
By Juan L. Mercado

Early January, 14,000 parched Metro Cebu water consumers started getting an additional 18,000 cubic meters. That surface water is piped in from Luyang town, 40 kilometers away. It is the first ever breakaway from crumbling underground aquifers over extracted by half of their recharge capacity.

“Did Cebu miss by the proverbial inch, the fate of Yemen’s cities?” We asked this in our Viewpoint column “Decisive turn” (Opinion, 3/24/12).

“In Sana, the price of water bolted tenfold in some areas,’ the New York Times reports. ‘[It] could become the
first capital ever to run out of water.

’ “Wedged between Mexico and Guatemala, Mayan cities crumbled between 800 and 950 AD. Food systems collapsed and epidemics erupted when rainfall dwindled to less than half of normal, Science 2012 states.

“Twelve miles east of the Taj Mahal, the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri molders. Your footsteps echo in empty palace halls. Cawing crows swoop over deserted balconies. The city died when water cisterns ran dry.

“Saudi Arabia pumped its fossil (noreplenishment) aquifers dry, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute notes. Riyadh harvested two years back its last wheat crop. Starting 2012, some 30 million Saudis—equivalent of Canada—will swap oil for imported grain.

“There is no substitute for water. ‘Twenty liters per person each day is the threshold requirement to meet basic human needs,’ UN’s Human Development Report states. Here, about 72 percent of water, from rivers or ponds, is unfit for human use.

“The Philippines is second to China in diarrhea-related deaths among children below five. Just washing hands can save lives. But first, you must have water. Hand-washing rates are three times higher in households with piped water. It is obscene ‘if people cannot drink water without courting disease or death,’ author Sandra Postel writes.”

Two years back, the Cebu provincial government and an Ayala-led consortium cobbled together a P702- million joint investment agreement that would allow the daily delivery of 35 million liters of potable water to a parched metropolis and northern towns. For the first time ever, surface water from Luyang River in Carmen town, was tapped.

Until then, 9 out of 10 cubic meters of water, aquaffed in a metro area of 12 cities and towns, had been siphoned from narrow limestone underground reservoirs.

“Over pumping of these aquifers allowed seawater to irreversibly seep in more than four kilometers inland,” we noted in our Viewpoint column of Aug. 20, 2011. And in our March 24, 2012 Viewpoint, we rued: “This contamination wrecked irreversibly the city’s main source of water. Who
will answer for this crime?”

Of 136 cities, Cebu is the most water-stressed. The province has only 2 percent of forest cover left. Inmigration, industries and trade quadrupled the demand for water in less than half a century.

In mid-1990, the sustainable capacity of aquifers in Cebu City had been exceeded 3.6 times and, in Mandaue, 7.4 times, an Ayala Land study found. If no reforms are adopted, Cebu’s groundwater will turn undrinkable. It will no longer be a question of supply, it will be a politically volatile issue of quality.

In 2007, water demand continued to pull away from supply, Cherry Ann Lim notes in “Vision of Thirst.” It continues to do so, but at an accelerating pace. Withdrawals are double what small reservoirs recharge.

For decades, the stark alternatives to overreliance on underground wells were: (a) total collapse of aquifers a la Yemen and Fatehpur Sikri, or (b) draw surface water from outside Metro Cebu.

Former mayor Tomas Osmeña’s three terms offered a window of opportunity to start reversing the slide into disaster. He opted for denial. “What water shortage?” he would dismiss warnings from the Asian Development Bank and the Delft University to the Water Resources Center at San Carlos University.

Osmeña bridged multiplying needs by over pumping depleted aquifers. He signaled ecological policy insolvency by hiring a water diviner. “Lola Choleng is 100-percent accurate,” he told a bothered media and an indifferent electorate. But voodoo didn’t resolve a crisis which he insisted didn’t exist.

Population, industries and commerce shoved Metro Cebu’s borders 40 km south and north. Today, they render obsolete Cebu City’s pretensions to be “first among equals,” or primus inter pares.

“History is a relentless master,” John F. Kennedy said. “It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast to the past is to be swept aside.”

“We will not be trapped into similar inaction,” then Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia vowed when she signed the province’s first-ever surface bulk water agreement with Manila Water Consortium’s Gerardo Ablaza.

In this “public-private partnership” project, Capitol put money where its mouth was. It plunked down P49 out of every P100 for the project; the Ayala-led firm put in P51 for every P100 of the cost. But potable water will already be pumped into towns that the pipeline reaches.

Taps have now been opened. Even then, there’d still be a 15-40 percent shortfall in Cebu’s water supply.

Some P35 million was advanced to Carmen town, which is led by Mayor Martin Gerard Villamor. He has safeguarded watersheds and water use
prudently—so far. “Will he shun doles and instead use the windfall to conserve this resource into the future?” Sun Star asked. “Maintain that record and Villamor will tower among Cebu’s leaders day after tomorrow.”

Today’s project started from the first red flags raised, in 1975, by Herman van Engelen of the Water Resources Center. This SVD priest-scientist retired in July 2011, a year before the launch of Cebu’s project. Prophets often yield to those who build on their vision.

Juan L. Mercado was a communication officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand. Thereafter, he was posted in FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, as attaché de cabinet. He wrote for the Inquirer as a regular columnist from February 2004 until December 2014.





archived editorials . . .


“Pretty shoplifter” attempts suicide

City landfill to open September

Prov. Board denies snubbing SLSU

Pope wants to reform Church

DOST gives 5 IT libraries to SLSU

Kumbati sa Sogod


My New Year's Resolution

Cebu Water Crisis


Sogod beauty’s lonely journey

What Red Tape?

Pope Francis should come here more often

Why our tap water is whitish in the morning?


Man survives multiple gun wounds

Buy bust nabs one in San Juan

Fugitive pays bail is freed


Pagatpat Seafood Paradise


Reckless PNP driver should be disciplined

Relief for Typhoon Ruby Survivors





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