Douglas Bakshian

Douglas Bakshian is a freelance journalist based in Manila.

Recent Articles

Suprising Progress in Teeming Manila

Online Extra: Many poor residents benefit from a creative enterprise between a family company and the government's water agency.

Imagine buying only enough water for one day and paying three to six times the price for something of questionable quality. This was a reality just a few years ago for poor residents of metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines with a population of 13 million. But for many in the city's eastern region that has changed, thanks to a creative enterprise between the Ayala family company and the government's water agency. For 37-year-old Aida Estacio, the enterprise has made life easier and cheaper. She was paying $15 (600 pesos) a month for water from a well and making daily, one-mile trips on foot to bring back her water in a pushcart. Now she pays $5 (200 pesos) a month. "I can take a bath anytime I want. Wash clothes anytime I want," she says. "Now I have more time for other things like taking care of the kids [four children] and cooking." The story begins in 1997 when Manila's water system, then run by the state-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), was in a...