Historian Nick Joaquin noted that the Spanish introduced the use of dams and wells as well as the notion that “no casa was grande that didn’t have its own fountain and no first-rate pueblo that didn’t have a sufficiency of public pozos.”
The friars assigned in faraway towns improvised a variety of waterworks, often using bamboos or hollowed logs. The system that brought ice-cold water from Mount Banahaw to Majayjay town of Laguna is still one of that town’s prized relics.
However in old Manila, the rivers continued to be the chief source of water. For drinking, river water was strained through cloth in a tapayan and then clarified with tawas (alum). Rizal noted that in his day the rivers and esteros in Binondo served as bath, sewer, laundry, fishery, transport and even drinking water, if thus found convenient by the Chinese aguador. This explains that most of the great epedemics of the last century were water-borne.
Manila didn’t get running water until 1878, when the municipal waterworks was established by Governor Domingo Moriones, with money from a fund that by then had become legendary as the Carriedo Legacy.
A “public-spirited citizen,” Don Francisco Carriedo y Peredo was a Basque from Santander who during his life conferred immense benefits on the Philippines, having migrated in the Philippines early in the 18th century. One of his “obras pias” (pious works), was a legacy he left in his will for the building of a Manila water system. Though Señor Carriedo did not live long enough to see his legacy since he died in 1743, Manila was to be without running water for more than a century longer. Thanks to Governor Moriones who acted on providing Manila with running water that the Carriedo Legacy was finally fulfilled.
A fountain was originally erected at the intersection of Legarda, Nagtahan and Magsaysay Streets (now beneath several layers of flyovers) in Sampaloc to mark the inauguration of the Manila Waterworks that was funded out of the Carriedo Legacy. The fountain was then brought to Balara in Quezon City, infront of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage Authority Building when the water agency’s main office was moved from Arroceros to Balara in late ’70s.
During the first term of Alfredo Lim as Manila mayor, he negotiated with MWSS administrator then Mr. Luis V. Z. Sison for the original Carriedo Fountain to be brought back to Manila. The MWSS administrator only agreed on the condition that The City of Manila had to allow the MWSS to have the fountain replicated before it was returned.
MWSS commissioned national artist Napoleon Abueva to do a replica of the original Carriedo Fountain that would stand on the spot where the original used to stand in Balara. It took a year for Abueva to come up with a beautiful rendition that won’t be suspected as a replica using plaster as chief material.
The original Carriedo fountain now stands at Plaza Santa Cruz.