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ROUGH CUTS | The other ‘new normal’ in Davao City

Vic N. Sumalinog

IF THE legitimate information technology experts are ceaselessly burning their midnight candles to upgrade the capability of their products, their counterparts on the “dark” side of the technology use are also as tireless in improving their skills for their criminal intentions.
This we realize last week when our account in the bank where our monthly pension from the Social Security System (SSS) is deposited was unavailable for withdrawal. It was blocked automatically by the bank’s system.
We were worried about the development because December is fast approaching and all the more that we need money for the holidays. We have to go to the bank to find out why. And we were informed that the bank’s automated system had blocked any withdrawal because some scammers were trying to use our account number for an unauthorized online transaction. Good thing that the bank lives true to its claim that it is an awardee in best automation.
And we could not help but imagine how adept the scammers are in the trade. According to the bank personnel who attended to us, the group who attempted to use our account is traced to Australia!
Now we have to have our ATM card changed as a way of preventing such an incident from happening again.
But of course, we know that the attempt to use our account for online transactions by the group concerned could have brought it frustration. What with the account almost in zero balance every after our pension is deposited therein.
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These days we are living in the so-called “New Normal” era. That is, after the coronavirus disease 19 (COVIiD-19) pandemic brought the entire world to its knees.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the leaders of governments all over the world, we just have to live with the fact that the deadly pandemic will continue to be in our midst until vaccines to stop the infection are discovered and administered on a massive scale. Since the people have to survive, governments have to authorize a graduated reopening of their country’s economy. And the Philippines is one of them.
At our country’s level, the reopening of the economy is also calibrated by geographic consideration. That is, where the virus infection is known to have reduced significantly, the various health protocols are also relaxed and the quarantine category is downgraded. The category level determines the kind of economic activities allowed in an area and the number of people that can move around. This is what our government and the leaders of the task force that is managing the response efforts to the health emergency call the “New Normal.” Davao City, of course, is as much into the “new normal” as the rest of the areas in the Philippines.
Unfortunately, however, there is another prevailing “new normal” in some parts of the city that is adding to the hardship of the people residing in those areas. We are referring to the almost daily water service interruptions in most of Catalunan Grande and likely in other nearby areas supplied water by the Davao City Water District’s (DCWD’s) pumping station and reservoirs in upper Tugbok. The service interruption has been ongoing since the onset of the CoViD pandemic in early March when the city was declared in “locked down” status.
In those early days of the DCWD-generated “new normal” there were announcements coursed through the print and broadcast media and in all social media platforms available in the city. The explanation given was that there were repairs done in the Tugbok facilities. Then there were claims that the city’s power supplier was also doing repairs on its facilities in that part of the city. So was the power transmission firm that delivers electricity to Davao City from the power generators all over Mindanao doing its own lines upgrading. Thus, the pumping and storing capacity of the water service provider has been reduced to the maximum, forcing the stoppage of water service. The daily interruption usually starts as early as 8 o’clock in the morning and continues until 12 noon or 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
Because we have a residence in one of the subdivisions in Catalunan Grande, which is affected by the daily water loss we have to go to the extent of contacting our acquaintance inside the DCWD, lawyer Bernard Delima. We wanted to check from him the progress of the repair of the agency’s Tugbok pumps since the nine months of daily water outage is way too long a period of suffering.
The answer that we got is that since the pandemic forced people to stay at their homes, there is a steep surge in the water usage in the households leading to the loss of supply during mornings until noon. Initially, we agreed because many women of the house, and even men, have engaged in planting ornamentals to while away boredom of being isolated for a long period.
But we could not think of washing clothes contributing to the rise in water consumption. For how can it be when there are not too many uniforms worn on daily basis as well as the usual attire needed to respond to household members’ daily routine?
We also believe that nine months would more than enough time for either the power utility or the transmission firm to finish upgrading or repair works unless these are new major projects.
So what is happening in our residence since last March is that we have to procure containers to store water for household use. But this has adversely affected members from doing effective work that needs water like washing clothes, watering plants, cleaning comfort rooms and washing of dishes.
Really, the normal way of life that we used to lead in that house of ours in Catalunan Grande, has to give way to the “new normal” spawned by the health pandemic. More unfortunately, the inconvenience suffered by the people in water interruption areas is also “twinned” by the daily waterless faucets.
No wonder why when there is a day in a week that water service is not interrupted, some netizens call out to the DCWD mockingly asking whether it has forgotten to shut off its pipes.
This is what many residents in that part of the city call sarcastically as the other “new normal” in Davao City.

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