Ah, the great Filipino summer tradition: seeking refuge from the scorching heat by flocking to cold springs and rivers. It’s a time-honored ritual, akin to a pilgrimage, where urbanites embark on a quest for aquatic salvation, only to find themselves face to face with a rather unpleasant truth.

Yes, sadly; beneath the glistening surface of these supposedly pristine waters lies a murky reality—a reality where carabaos frolic freely and unsuspecting travelers unwittingly wade into nature’s very own cesspool. That’s upstream, where the water flows from, where farmers have to cool their farm animals in water.

As temperatures soar faster than gossip at a family reunion, the allure of cool, refreshing water becomes irresistible. Families pack their picnic baskets with enough food to feed a barangay and pile into jeepneys like sardines in a can, all in pursuit of that elusive oasis of chill. Yet, as they arrive at their watery destination, their dreams of aquatic bliss are secretly washed away by a tide of disappointment. What they frolic into is a veritable smorgasbord of algae, debris, and a distinct odor that smells of carabao.

But how did these once-idyllic waterways descend into such foulness, you ask? Well, it’s a tale as old as time—or at least as old as irresponsible waste disposal. Upstream, where the air is still fresh and the grass is still green, lies the source of our aquatic woes. Here, carabaos traverse the riverbank, turning what was once a pristine waterway into their very own aquatic playground.

And let’s not forget our fellow humans, who, in their infinite wisdom, have designated these same waters as their preferred restroom facilities. And what’s more, they sometimes detour their piggery wastes into these running waters instead of digging up deep and huge holes for the purpose. That’s the extant problem here in our country—the unsanitary practices of some of our uneducated brethren in the rural areas.

As our intrepid adventurers stand on the riverbank, contemplating their next move, a sense of camaraderie begins to emerge. After all, there’s nothing like the shared experience of wading through waist-deep water that doubles as a carabao spa to bring people together. Laughter rings out like the call of the wild as they swap tales of their aquatic misadventures, finding solace in the absurdity of it all.

And so, the next time you find yourself tempted by the siren song of cold springs and rivers in the Philippines, remember to pack a sense of humor along with your swimsuit. While the waters may not be as pristine as advertised, the memories forged amidst the algae and aroma will be cherished for years to come. After all, there’s nothing quite like a refreshing dip in a carabao swimming pool to make us appreciate the finer things in life.