Building Toilets in the Philippines

As you approach the village of Sitio Kawayan, in a mountainous area north of Manila, Philippines, the first thing you see is a 1.5m high Rotary marker. The second thing you see is a toilet!

This toilet is one of fifteen twin toilets built in the village using Global Grant funding. Past President Floren Naguit from the Rotary Club of Intramuros, Manila, together with President Ross Ching, and Past President Andy Chua are brimming with excitement. Past President Aries Balanay works behind the scenes to erect celebratory banners, set up the PA system and ensure all the arrangements are in place. He’s proud that this project, started two years ago in his presidential year, is finally finished.

Today is the day for the official handover of the toilets to the beneficiary families in the village. Representatives from the international sponsor club, the Rotary Club of Batemans Bay (Bronwyn Geppert and Vere Gray) are visiting too (2020).

Vere and Bronwyn representing the Rotary Club of Batemans Bay

“The project has had many challenges” says PP Floren Naguit, the project manager. To access the village, and its neighbouring village, Sitio Flora, where there are 10 new twin toilets (and another Rotary marker) more than 20 rivers have to be crossed, and rough rocky ‘roads’ can only be travelled by 4×4 vehicles in dry weather. Concrete blocks, sand, gravel and all requirements had to come in this way, progressively, as construction took place. The cyclone season put a halt to the project for a few months (twice). Hence, after two years in construction and many challenges (including no telecommunications) the project is finally finished.

“We made at least 20 trips,” said PP Floren “to supervise construction and conduct training in healthy practices, toilet use, cleanliness and user responsibilities in accordance with the requirements of the the Rotary Foundation Global Grant conditions.”  The men of the Aetas community provided the labour for ‘their’ toilet under the direction of contractor Landy.

Excited village people gather round as Fr Art Eduardo offers a prayer and blesses the toilet with holy water. As the person who suggested to the Intramuros Rotarians that Sitios Kawayan and Flora would benefit from toilets, there is great respect for him.

“We don’t need to go to the grass field any more,” says villager Natalie. “And we won’t have the foul smell of faeces any more.  We will take care of the toilet and we will clean it.”  Twin toilets (male one side, female the other side) use a septic system and have a water trough at one end – and a solar light for night use and safety. To encourage safe and healthy toilet practices, instructions in words and pictures are inside each toilet and above the washstand.

This Global Grant project would not have been possible without the support of DDF funding from D8310 Philippines, D9710 and D9760 Australia together with the Rotary Clubs of Intramuros and Batemans Bay (major partners) as well as the Rotary Clubs of Canberra, Canberra North, Moruya and Narooma in D9710, and of course The Rotary Foundation – all of whom are acknowledged on the walls of each toilet. In total, 659 beneficiaries (137 families) benefitted from the 25 twin toilets and 3 single toilets built for this Global Grant project.