Saturday, June 5, 2010

The New ATM - Automatic Tubig Machine


I did not really put much attention into this new thingy until a friend who also frequently travels was dumbfounded when I pointed to him a woman dispensing water from the "ATM"! Yes, ATM... the new ones that is!

I thought these ATMs are all over the country but sensing that my friend did not immediately recognize it, that probably means, its not(yet) that ubiquitous! Well, I have seen many of them, there are a lot of these water dispensers in the Visayas and Mindanao.

What is the new ATM? Its an A=automatic T=tubig(water) M=Machine. It no different from the most common water dispenser where you plant an inverted 5-gallon blue plastic container of water. However, some ingenuous Filipinos thought of improvising the set-up to earn from it. And earn a lot they do. Let's talk about that later.

The dispenser and bottle are still the same. The addition is a wooden or aluminum box where said dispenser and bottle are encased. It is locked. Then there is some kind of gadget where you drop a 1-peso coin, after which water automatically pours from the provided water outlet. Some of these machines provide plastic cups for you to catch your water but most will provide plastic cellophane bags (those used to make ice-candy or ice-tubig.) These are laid somewhere near the whole contraption for you to grab before you deposit your 1-peso coin. Oh yes there are already some variations, like some are just the dispensers without the box, but just the same reconfigured to accommodate the coin thing.

Brisk money? These ATMs are configured to pour water just enough to fill the container provided. That configuration varies. Some will be a lot more or a lot less than others. Those that provide glasses (like turo-turo restaurants) have their ATMs configured to release water just enough to fill the kind(size) of drinking glass that they use. I have seen one in the town of Cordova that uses a glass way too tiny for a 1-peso worth of drinking water. I asked one of those ATM operators and learned that a 5-gallon container can "spit" as many as P400 worth of "1-peso vending sessions" hehe. OMG and each 5-gallon container sells for just P20 to P25. Wow! Hey, there should be created an ATM Regulatory Board to set the standard price and quantity released. Duh, hehe!

What do we get? Water, what else. But those dispensers have hot and/or cold water, right?! Well, yes, that's why some ATMs have two containers in one cabinet each with its own coin slot - one for hot and the other for cold. Very seldom though would you see a hot water dispenser, says the "operator" due to lack of demand. Hey, I learned too that many of the "double dispensers" cater to the two (old and new) one-peso coins so that if its not accepted in one slot, the other will surely do (eat your hearts out MRT and LRT)! BUT, don't expect to get cold water at all times - especially if you happen to visit an ATM with a lot of following! If a number of folks used the machine ahead of you, expect that your water won't be that cold, just like at home, right?!

Ah, technology hehe!

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