My Watermark is Lake Ontario.
My name is Samantha and I am a first-year student at the University of Toronto, studying Life Sciences. I immigrated from the Philippines to Canada almost 11 years ago, and my memories with water in the Philippines and Canada are very distinct from one another. Juxtaposing these experiences with one another only highlights the malleable quality of water, both in its physical state and in its ability to create various experiences depending on its location and its use. But there is definitely one common aspect I can gather from both memories: each experience only strengthens the bond and appreciation I feel for water.
Before I immigrated to Canada when I was 8, I can distinctly remember the role water played in my daily life as a child. Water came from deep wells that were situated in my home town, Cainta, Rizal, in the Philippines. In order to take a bath, my family would have to bring large tubs to these wells and fill them up to the brim. Knowing the effort that went behind gathering enough water just for one bath, I learned the value of water at a very early age and always tried my best to conserve what I could. I remember sharing baths with my sister—which I always viewed as a fun way to spend time with her—but in hindsight, I can see that it was a way to save water as well, as one large tub would serve the both of us.
For drinking water, my family would usually order these 18 L bottles of distilled water as our drinking water source. The alternative would be boiling the water from the well, which was seen as a rather long process, especially considering the extremely hot weather in the Philippines—drinking water was a must, and needed to be easily available. Tap water in the Philippines was not filtered, and not readily available either. The use for tap water was reserved for hand-washing only, if I recall correctly, and if any more water was needed, one needed to head to the well with a large tub.
When I immigrated to Toronto, Canada, the shift in water availability was quite shocking and nearly unbelievable. Toronto is blessed with Lake Ontario as its water supplier—one of the Five Great Lakes and a freshwater lake as well. The first moment I stepped into a shower and discovered that with one shift of my hand, water came pouring down at my disposal, I was in complete awe. Seeing relatives hold a glass under a tap and drink tap water nearly blew my mind, as I could not believe that tap water could be so readily available—and furthermore, so clean that it was drinkable. To this day, my mom is still wary of tap water and my father still buys 18 L bottles of distilled water for use at our home just for her.
Despite how water changed from being valuable and limited in my life at the Philippines to a virtually unlimited (as one might view it) source here in Canada, my view and appreciation for water hasn’t changed. I still try to conserve water to the best of my ability and I do still get those chills of awe whenever I fill up my reusable water bottle with water from the tap. My distinctive experiences with water has wholly increased my admiration for it. I hope that everyone can learn to fully appreciate the value of water, so that it can be protected and be available to be enjoyed for many more years to come.