Adventures with Coca-Cola’s Project Agos

When Coca-Cola invited Davao Bloggers to become part of their corporate social responsibility program called ‘Project Agos’, I immediately signed up to take part of the activity. It is very interesting to note that a big international brand is actively taking part in sustainable projects from the grassroots level. Small, hard steps are taken to provide potable drinking water in upland rural villages, but this will create a bigger impact as Coca-Cola aims to provide sustainable water access to 100 communities all over the Philippines in commemoration of their 100 years in the country.

Eagle statue at the side of the Barangay Hall in Brgy. Baganihan, Marilog District

We drove for almost two hours from Davao City to get to Barangay Baganihan, Marilog District. We were greeted with a warm welcome from Barangay Captain Angit and his councilors, plus representatives from Coca Cola, Alternative Indigenous Foundation (AIDFI), and Earth Day Network. These foundations have partnered up with the barangay officials to accomplish this 40th Agos Ram Pump. The 39th ram pump is in Matanao, Davao del Sur and the 41st is in Maramag, Bukidnon.

Warm greetings and initial meet-up in front of the Barangay Hall

 Datu Noynoy of the Matigsalog Tribe from Brgy. Baganihan

Council Leaders of Brgy. Baganihan

After a little meeting and coffee at the Barangay Hall, we drove a few more minutes to the project site. It was inspiring to see little kids painting the exterior of the water tank. Besides making a simple water tank aesthetically pleasing, I believe it gave a chance for the people to take pride of this project. The water tank was the first stop for an upcoming hiking adventure.

Kids painting the Agos Water Tank

Agos Ram Pump Project by Coca-Cola, Earth Day Network and AIDFI (logo of AIDFI not painted yet though)

I had a goal in mind to document the whole hydraulic ramp pump system – what it is, how it works, and how it delivers water to the upland village – but had difficulties due to the setting. The first part of the trek was something I could easily handle, but along the way each step became very challenging. I slid in the muddy slopes four times, got some red scratches on my arm, and had the muddiest shoes and pants in the bunch. Going down the slopes of the mountain was the hardest part because you will easily slip. Going upwards was easier, but it made my heart pound harder. When we got to the stream, we took pictures of the water source, hydraulic pump and catchment.

The water source for the hydraulic ram pump

The hydraulic ram pump

After that one very challenging hike, I realized how truly difficult it is for the people of Brgy. Baganihan to get to and from their water source every single day just to survive. I couldn’t even say that I experience what they go through because they make several trips per day carrying with them heavy gallons of water through that 300-meter backbreaking hike. It is a great relief to them that Coca-Cola sponsored and completed this hydraulic ram pump project so that they can easily get water right at their homes and school, which are located at the uplands.

Tribal ritual as an opening ceremony for the turnover of the Agos Hydraulic Ram Pump

Ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the water tank

During the turnover ceremony, Brgy, Captain Angit shared with us their history of trying to solve their water problem. There have been several times in the course of decades that the government funded projects for them to get access to water, and each of these attempts were either not completed or not enough to sustain the community. However, this hydraulic ram pump system provided by Coca-Cola successfully delivers 10,000 liters of water everyday in their vicinity. This 200-year old technology is also environmentally-friendly because it utilizes natural kinetic energy of the free flowing water from the source to transport large volumes of water to the upland community. It has zero carbon footprint, which does not utilize electricity or fossil fuels. The pump can be fully operational in less than six weeks and can run automatically for 24 hours per day.

I couldn’t thank Coca-Cola enough for the opportunity to become part of their Project Agos. I was enlightened on the reality that even though Davao has the best drinking water in the world, a few communities still need help to get access to it.

These children don't have to risk their lives anymore just to get access to water

It is uplifting to see that Coca-Cola upholds social responsibility and do their best to alleviate the lives of the poor. I do pray that the communities will maintain the ram pumps very well for future generations. Kudos to the beneficiary communities, partner organizations, and Coca-Cola!

Dirty shoes, tired feet, but happy sole

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