before the time of water refilling stations in the city, people drank water from the tap. at least my family did. and most people we know did. and since there were nine of us in the family, that made for a huge circle of friends relying on zamboanga city water district.
its different now. people have diarrhea when they drink from the tap. it could be because their stomachs got used to filtered water, or, horrors, it could be that the water from the utility is dirtier now. or it could be both.
we used to buy bottled water only for baby gabriel, and everybody else drank tap water filtered with this un-reassuring made in china device with bits of ground charcoal inside that you append to your faucet's spout. we got it, what, three years ago. the instruction said to replace the device once the charcoal grains turn white. this was probably an unintentional exaggeration brought about by the manufacturers limitations in english technical writing, but still, i have stopped believeing it'll ever lighten maybe eight months after purchase. today, the charcoal's as black as ever.
why i never bother replacing it? because it worked. i haven't had our water tested for potability at city health in pettit barracks (only a few bucks, someone said), but the family's never had a rash of diarrhea that could be blamed on the water. the last time we had an epidemic, no one doubted it was brought on by my experimental sauteed fish roe.
for the past month however, everyone in the family has been drinking bottled water. we got sort of carried away by talks in the neighborhood that the reason why our water was different lately (i have to admit, the post shower feeling is more slimy than fresh now) because our supply came from a deep well. maybe as opposed to a fresh mountain spring.
we now consume 25 gallons a week, which translates in pesos to 600 a month. when i realized the cost last night, i almost gagged on my water. our water district bill never exceeds 150. but my mother would say that's only because our clothes are washed at her place, and she would be right. but still. 600. that's 7,200 a year. that's two 21" inch color tv from the korean surplus store.