An unusual site for a freshwater spring

What’s a freshwater spring?

It’s a well that discharges fresh water from the underground earth. The presence of a freshwater spring, throughout history, is associated with towns and settlements. A spring is usually more valuable than a brook, or a creek.

The strength of freshwater springs is measured by the volume of water they discharge. There are nine magnitudes of classification. They range from the 1st magnitude, with a water flow strong enough to be the source of a river, to zero, to indicate a spring that stopped being one.

I joined a group that inspected a prominent freshwater spring located in Brooke’s Point. What made it remarkable was its location.

There are actually two wells. Both of them lie on a beach.

The wells are in Barangay Oring-Oring in the municipality of Brooke’s Point.

Oring-Oring "Brooke's Point" "Retired No Way"

Shows Bgy. Oring-Oring's location relative to its parent municipality, Brooke's Point.

Barangay Oring-Oring is one of Brooke’s Point’s 18 barangays. As the map shows, it lies several kilometers south of the center of town.

Municipalities are towns that have barangays in their jurisdiction. Barangays–the name and concept–were introduced by the former President Marcos after he declared martial law. Barangays were going to be the framework of Bagong Lipunan (or New Society, which was what Marcos called the society that he expected to create through martial law).

I say “introduced” because it was the first time I heard of them after he announced martial law. I don’t recall covering them in grade school history.

The barangay (abbreviation: bgy.) is compared to the barrio.

The barangay’s former name, the barrio, is the smallest local government unit in the Philippines. It is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward. Municipalities and cities are composed of barangays. Barangays, especially large barangays in the rural areas, are divided into puroks, sitios or sonas (the terms are interchangable) headed by a purok president and his set of officers.

A History of the Barangay

Circular walls

Rather than just let the spring water bubble, the town encircled each spring with a wall. The wall has the effect of turning the untamed bubbling of water into a calm pool. That makes it easier to collect freshwater. Good thinking Brooke’s Point!

Fresh water translates to tubig matabang (or bland un-salty water). Sea water translates to tubig maalat (or salty water).

"Brooke's Point" Oring-oring "The primary well" "Retired No Way"

The primary well. The town erected a circular wall around each well. (Engr. Evangelista called it a "culvert.")

There are two freshwater spring wells located along the beach of Bgy. Oring-Oring. During high tide, these wells would be situated 10 meters from the shoreline and be submerged in about two meters (six feet plus) of water. We timed our visit to occur during low tide–in the early morning. We were on the road by 6:30 a.m and arrived at the site 30 minutes later.

"Retired No Way" "Oring-Oring" "Brooke's Point"

Engineer Nemy Evangelista walking to the primary well.

In our troop were the municipal engineer, Engineer Nemy Evangelista, Brooke Point’s blogger, Ton Abengoza, two local fishermen who were also fishing wardens of Brooke’s, a Canadian tourist named Max, and myself.

"Retired No Way" Oring-Oring "Freshwater Well"

The secondary well

Notice the wide expanse visible during low tide. During high tide, the water reaches the base of the coconut trees. From the picture, can you tell how many meters is that difference? Between two to three meters, I’d say. That’s between six to nine feet.

The secondary well is surrounded by a circular wall, like the primary well. The secondary well can be seen in the upper-left.

Our troop

Ton taking a photo of the primary well. Engr. Evangelista (right) is speaking with a local resident about how they use the well.

Ton is the unofficial media person of Brooke’s Point. Boy and Rudy are local fishermen who come from Brooke’s.

"Retired No Way" Oring-Oring

Brooke's Point Fisherman Boy Estiandan bails out water from the well while fellow fisherman, Rudy Pega, watches.

The water was being bailed out in the photo above because we wanted to see how long it took the spring to replenish the volume that was bailed out. We also wanted to taste the water. The high tide had just receded so that meant that the well had just been submerged in sea water. We were bailing out the well’s remaining water which was a combination of fresh and sea water.

It took the spring less than five minutes to replenish a gallon. That makes the primary well (below) at Oring-Oring a 6th magnitude well.

"Retired No Way" "Nemy Evangelista" "Oring-Oring"

Inspecting the condition of the primary well. Municipal Engineer Nemy Evangelista inspects the well as Canadian Tourist Max looks on.

I tasted the water. It was matabang alright. Pronounced with the accent on the first syllable–an exception to my rules of thumb on Tagalog–the root word is tabang (or no taste).

A busy morning

Along this same beach lived this young couple.

"Retired No Way" "Oring-Oring" "Brooke's Point" Couple

Young family located at Bgy Oring-Oring in Brooke's Point, southern Palawan.

The woman is pregnant so this couple will have two children.

I think that this generation of Filipinos understand and follow the message about limiting family size. That’s a very good thing!

Fifty meters away, two fishermen were casting their net.

"Retired No Way" "Oring-Oring" "Brooke's Point"

Two fishermen setting a shallow-water net. Taken at about 7:30 a.m.

Then another fishermen pulled in. He was accompanied by two young men (kids, really). His sons, most likely. They had fished all night.

"Retired No Way" "Oring-Oring" "Brooke's Point"

Brooke's Point in the background, seen from southern barangay, Oring-Oring. Can you spot the cell phone wireless tower?

A sobering sign of overfishing

Their catch was pathetic. And to think that this was going to be their family’s meal for that entire day. They would have rice, these seafoods, and any vegetables and fruits that they can collect.

"Retired No Way" "Oring-Oring" Catch

Meager Catch after a whole night's work.

Two juvenile stingrays (above and below), an adult blue crab, a much smaller crab, and the meatiest one of them all, a fleshy shallow-water fish. How much protein is that? And how many people are going to share that?

"Retired No Way" "Oring-Oring" "Brooke's Point" Stingray

Juvenile Spotted Stingray and Shallow-water Saltwater Fish

In 2005, an entire night of fishing in these waters would net a fisherman a catch of five kilos. In 2000, 10 kilos. In 1990, 40 kilos, according to the two fishing wardens in my troop.

"Fishing net" "Retired No Way" Oring-Oring

Their fishing net

They also had an unusual catch.

"Retired No Way" Oring-Oring

The two young men displaying an unusual catch. It was caught using their net.

 The skin felt hard and it was covered with tiny bumps or mounds.

"Retired No Way" "Angler Fish" Oring-Oring

An angler fish

I don’t think it was edible. And if it was, there wouldn’t have been enough flesh.

"Retired No Way" Oring-Oring "Angler Fish"

It had a leathery skin pockmarked with tiny mounds.

I attempted to revive it by returning it to the water. I don’t know whether it lived.

"Retired No Way" "Angler Fish" Oring-Oring

Attempting to revive the Angler Fish

How to enlarge these images

Click on an image and then click on the image’s final resolution (encircled).

"How to enlarge an image"

How to enlarge an image


5 responses to “An unusual site for a freshwater spring

  1. Hi Cooper, I envy you. You are right there in the thick of things. Retired from the fast lane, yet not retired from doing what you really want to do. I learn from your posts. Thanks!


  2. Pingback: Sunday Magazine: injectable contraceptives help Filipino families plan their lives | Retired? No way!

  3. Pingback: Sunday Magazine: injectable contraceptives help Filipino families … – pregnancy prevention methods

  4. Barangay comes from the term balangay.


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