JULY 13, 1954
HYDE PARK, Monday—As long as I have been writing about conservation in our own country, I want to tell you about something which has happened in the Philippines.
President Ramon Magsaysay created by executive order the "Liberty Wells Association," which is under the Department of Health. This association is allowed "to solicit contributions to the Government from the public of funds and materials to be used exclusively for the construction and development of artesian wells and other sources of potable water supplies for rural communities in the Philippines lacking in financial resources to provide an adequate and safe water supply."
According to a survey, 16,900,000 out of the 21,000,000 population of the Philippine Islands are still dependent on unsafe or polluted sources of water. On the basis of 250 persons per well, some 67,600 safe wells are needed. Since World War II, the Philippine Government has been constructing annually an average of 250 artesian wells and 10 piped water systems. The increase in population yearly is about 600,000 people, so this would require the building of 2,400 new wells each year even if one could build at once the full number of wells needed now.
Many of you know that it has been suggested that a "statue of liberty," similar to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, should be erected on Corregidor as a gift from the people of the United States to the people of the Philippines. It would stand as a symbol of the heroic way that American and Philippine soldiers fought side by side for democracy and freedom. But more than such a symbol is needed to convince some elements of the Philippine population that a democratic way of life and a republican form of government really do bring tangible advances in the everyday life of the people.
It was in an effort to do this that the Association for the Liberty Wells was started. Some 300,000,000 pesos are needed for the construction of an adequate number of wells to meet the immediate needs of the people. And it seems to me that many of the people in this country who have had close ties with the Philippines, or who wish to develop ties on the basis of close association in the future, might be interested in helping with this particular kind of conservation.
There is an old Chinese proverb which the Liberty Wells Association has put on the front page of its pamphlet: "God will bless those who dig wells, build bridges, and construct roads." The Chinese knew that these three things were essential to the development of a country.