Rick Gregory, Writer

Translating Messages From Heads To Hearts

Well Drilling In South Cotabato Province

A Really Long Drive

4 Hours Drive from Davao to South Cotabato

It was Thursday morning at about 6:40 when Bomo picked me up. He said to bring a change of clothes and a towel. If I had a tent, I was to bring that as well. No tent. No sleeping bag, so I was completely dependent on him . . . Oh, and wear work boots and jeans. Doesn’t matter that it’s 85 degrees and about 80% humidity.

Bomo has been a missionary here on the island of Mindanao for over 30 years and speaks Cebuano and Ilongo fluently. His crew of well-drillers speaks Cebuano, Ilongo, and Maguindanaon dialects. Not surprisingly, I was really confused as each of them tried to tell me how to say words – each in their language or dialect. I’d venture to say, I came away not knowing ANY new language. It was terribly frustrating!

Learning a language is no simple task

It seems like almost everyone can understand Cebuano, so that’s the language I’ll be focusing on. One thing that is a little bit helpful is that in learning Cebuano, there are lots of Spanish words that sound alike, pero that makes it confusing as well, since the pronunciation may be a little different. By the way, everyone here will be speaking their dialect and occasionally you’ll hear an English phrase or word dropped in like a little bomb, just to confuse you.

This first day, I watched as they blew compressed air down the drill stem in an attempt to flush out the sand, drill cuttings, and any other debris. The well casing went to a depth of ~160 feet and the water filled the casing up to about 25 feet from the surface. Looked like it was going to make a good well! They’d purchased and planned to use an electric submersible pump, which they were going to set at a depth of about 80 feet. But . . . What if sand got into the pump? Would it ruin the $1,000 pump? Lots of searching on the internet, trips to the seller of the pump, and a day-long attempt to pump water (with a separate, gas-powered pump) from a depth similar to where they planned to place the submersible. The gas pump didn’t have enough “oomph” to pull water in a 2” pipe up from 80 feet down., it didn’t have enough juice to pull it up in a 1” pipe from that depth, so they decided to call it a day and wait till this coming Tuesday to set the submersible and see if it worked. At best, from what I saw, the crew of 4-5 guys worked about 2-3 hours in two days. Had to be frustrating for them – and for Bomo.

As to food, I told Brad I’d eat whatever was put in front of me. Never should have said that. Every meal was piles of white rice with some meat, and nothing green. In 3 of the 4 meals I ate, the “meat” was some kind of fish. Now, I don’t mind boneless, skinned fish, but this was quite a different story. Whole fish (they were cleaned, Thank You, Lord!), including heads and tails all thrown into a pot and cut up in chunks. I did manage to eat some of the fish because I knew I needed protein! Wasn’t easy and I didn’t end up eating very much those two days!

Let’s talk for a moment about sleeping. Bomo had indeed brought me a tent – a one-man pup tent, with about a 1/4” thick plastic mat, and a sleeping bag. The bag’s only purpose was to provide a bit more “cushion” to the plastic mat over the concrete slab I was sleeping on. Yes. Concrete. Slab. I slept in my jeans and socks because – the mosquitos. The tent was zipped up tight because of the bugs, but it didn’t block out the floodlights on the patio where we were “sleeping.” Nor did it block out the sound of the dog in the kennel about 15 feet away barking and whining all night long. Nor did it help dissipate the 85-degree day’s heat. I ended up with bruises on both hips trying to lay on my sides. Not to mention the bags under my eyes the next morning, and wet spots on the bag from sweating all night. But I’m not complaining!

The bathroom and shower at the church where we stayed were quite a treat. You can’t tell from the photo, but the toilet stood about 12” off the ground. The bucket next to it was for flushing . . . And for bathing! Two for the price of one! Two scoops of water to flush #2 and 1 scoop to flush #1. And as many scoops as you need to clean yourself because they don’t use toilet paper. Oh, and the scoops are also the shower for whenever you think you might need one.


Again, I was blown away at the kindness and graciousness of the people, including those in whose village we were drilling.Thanks for having the tenacity to read this far! And for praying if you’re one of those!

21 thoughts on “Well Drilling In South Cotabato Province”

  1. Great update Rick and sounds like a real challenge with drilling the wells. Let me know if you need water filters and I can send you a few Filter of Hope filters for clean drinking water. How is the water there? Be sage and God be with you.

    1. Thanks, Steve! There are loads of water filters here. One of the organizations we’re connected with provides ceramic filters, and another provides “Sawyer” filters. In the cities, water is plentiful and in Davao it can be used directly from the tap for drinking. In the villages, it is plentiful, but not always clean enough to drink. In those cases, many of the organizations are providing the filters already.

  2. What an adventure. I am blessed from millions is miles away by your tender hearted compassion.

  3. Oh my!!!! is all I have to say! What an experience and what commitment you have! Hod bless you and everyone you come in contact with💜🫶🏻🙏🏼

  4. Aaron dale moore

    Great news Rick. I’m sure you’re feeling better now you can get your hands dirty. I appreciate being able to share in this adventure.

  5. Albert Joe Guidotti

    Wow Rick, thanking God for His provisions in all uh, ‘uncomfortable’ situations! Hope you and Sherry remain healthy and joyful depending upon the Holy Spirit through difficult circumstances. Miss our talks and walks!

    1. Hey Joe, so good to hear from you. Yes, I miss our walks and talks, too! Hope things are well with you and Rachel

  6. Teresa M Ayala

    Wow that sounds kind of rough. Sorry about your bruises. But at least you were seeing and doing something you know about and it’s always interesting to see new parts of the island. I am always thinking about you and Sherry and praying. By the way, you have a birthday coming up in a few days so accept it early birthday wish from me. Love you.

  7. Jana L Thomas

    OH WOW! That’s quite the experience! And I think requires quite the prayer support! All I can say is you’re amazing and I’m excited to hear how the Lord will use your servants heart! Again thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow….. really, I think that word pretty much sums your experience up. There are no other words that come to my mind (maybe REALLY… or ARE YOU KIDDING…). Where do I begin commenting on your experience? The 4 hour drive? The fine cuisine? The 5 star sleeping accommodations? Heat? Humidity? Mosquitos? Where should I begin….. if I were to focus on any of those “experiences” you encountered it would likely take away from the JOY of serving along side your Brothers in Christ. I will focus on your words “I was blown away at the kindness and graciousness of the people”. This is why you serve! It’s all about loving your neighbor and loving God… I will continue to pray for you guys that God will provide you with everything you need to accomplish His purposes for your work there.

  9. naa koy sugyot. adto sa Costco naa silay mga tolda nga gibaligya karon, makadawat ka og usa ka moskitero sa matag pagpalit !

    1. Great idea! But the Costco in Davao is a building . . . and Not a Full Store! We have visited one named S & R, which sells Kirkland products.
      Ganahan ko nga padad-an ko nimo og mga mensahe sa Cebuano!

Comments are closed.