I had the great honor to speak to the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) Board of Commissioners, General Manager and Heads about my water experience in the Philippines and YSEALI program during their monthly board meeting held last night, 5 November 2019, at the EWEB Headquarters. Here is my privilege speech:
The photo of me while delivering my privilege speech to the four (4) Board of Commissioners and the General Manager Frank Lawson of Eugene Water and Electric Board.
To EWEB’s Honorable Commissioners, John Brown, Sonya Carlson, Dick Helgeson, Steve Mital, and Mindy Schlossberg and also to all the Managers and Employees in this room: “Magandang Gabi, Ako’y nagagalak na ako’y inyo pong pinagbigyan na ako’y mapunta sa inyong lugar ng apat na linggo.” In English, that is: Good evening. I am very much happy that you allow me to stay in your place for 4 weeks.
My name is Patrick James Dizon, from Philippines. I am one of the 11 participants from my country as Professional Fellowship under the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). YSEALI is U.S. government’s signature program, to strengthen leadership development of young professionals like me and networking in Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam). It seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture an ASEAN community. This program brings emerging leaders ages 18 to 35 years old around the world to the United States for extensive six weeks’ fellowship to develop and broaden our professional expertise.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the oldest water system in Asia which is now 141 years old, is where I am working and our job, same as you to provide potable water, to about 40 cities and municipalities around the National Capital Region of Metro Manila, which is equivalent to 16 Million customers.
So why I am here? Last March 2019, majority of the MWSS East concession areas experienced low pressure to no water in the system, low pressure meaning the water pressure coming out from the faucet is below 7 psi, that is equivalent to 783 thousand of affected water service connections. The reason of this water shortage is due to the El Niño Phenomenon that hits the whole portion of the Philippines wherein the only source of our water is from the rain which we are collecting and storing to our dam and reservoir during the rainy season. However, during this time we experienced minimal to no rain in our watershed area which supposed to saturate the land and filled up our reservoir. Maybe you will say, “Why you don’t construct another water source or construct a new treatment plant that can treat saline water since Philippines is located around the ocean?” Yes, we can, but the challenges we are experiencing are: (1) Philippine is a 3rd world country and limited national budget is always an issue; and (2) Not all our customers can be able to pay additional water tariff, even a cent of increase in their water billing will be resulted to street rallies outside our office.
When I visited the EWEB’s facilities for 2 weeks now, especially the McKinzie and Willamette Rivers, I envied how abundant your water sources are. Also, the minimum of 40 psi water pressure shocks me every time I take a bath in my hotel, it is far different pressure that we only experience and enjoying 7 to 16psi water pressure in the Philippines. To tell you frankly, I felt guilty every time I take a bath and every time I am using water here because I think I am consuming and wasting lots of water. But in the serious note, I find the EWEB management and staffs efficient because I see dedication in their work and how passionate they are to ensure and provide water to Eugene community. Special mention to the Water Operations Group headed by Karen Kelley and to her staffs Wally McCullogh, Karl Morgenstern, David Donahue and all of the employees for sharing their knowledge to me and it reaches beyond my expectations.
With that, I hope and I pray more remarkable success to Eugene Water and Electric Board. And I am very much happy to be part of EWEB family even for a short time.