Sunday, September 29, 2013



[Highway Magazine, February, 1913]

The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot do so well, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.

In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, Government ought not to interfere.

The desirable things which the individuals of a people cannot do, or cannot well do, for themselves, fall into two classes—those which have relation to wrongs and those which have not. Each of these branches off into an infinite variety of subdivisions.

The first—that in relation to wrongs—embraces all crimes, misdemeanors, and non-performance of contract.

The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of Government itself. From this it appears that if all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need of Government. 

Abraham Lincoln,

Source: Quarterly Bulletin, Bureau of Public Works Manila, 1915

Saturday, September 21, 2013



(Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon, about 2250 B.C.)

If a builder build a house for a man and do not make its construction firm, and the house which he has built collapse and cause the death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to death.

If it causes the death of a son of the owner of the house, they shall put to death a son of that builder.

If it causes the death of a slave of the owner of the house, he shall give to the owner of the house a slave of equal value.

If it destroys property, he shall restore whatever it destroyed, and because he did not make the house which he built firm and it collapsed, he shall rebuild the house which collapsed at his own expense.

If a builder build a house for a man and do not make its construction meet the requirements and a wall fall in, that builder shall strengthen that wall at his own expense.

If a builder build a boat for a man and he do not make its construction seaworthy and that boat meet with a disaster in the same year in which it was put into commission, the builder shall reconstruct that boat and he shall strengthen it at his own expense and he shall give the boat when strengthened to the owner of the boat.

If a man neglect to strengthen his dyke and do not strengthen it, and a break be made in his dyke and the water carry away the farmland, the man in whose dyke the break has been made shall restore the grain which he has damaged.

If he be not able to restore the grain, they shall sell him and his goods, and the farmers whose grain the water has carried away shall share (the results of the sale).

If a man opens his canal for irrigation and neglect it and the water carry away an adjacent field, he shall measure out grain on the basis of the adjacent fields. 

— (Harper's Edition.)

Source: Quarterly Bulletin, Bureau of Public Works Manila 1915

Friday, September 13, 2013



By George Fitch

A civil engineer is a quiet man with a thick coat of sunburn, who spends his time revising climates, editing the landscape, and training up rivers into lives of usefulness.

In order to do this the civil engineer does not tear the earth wide open with 100-ton spades or perform other feats of strength. He is usually of ordinary size and if he only used his own hands he could not push around a small creek, let alone a river. The civil engineer does not rely on muscle. When he desires to move a mountain or wipe out a few hundred square miles of desert with a dam, he takes his logarithm book and retires to a quite spot where he fills an acre of brown paper full of figures. At the end of six months he emerges with a tired air and a carload of blueprints and motions to the steam-shovels to come on up and get busy.

The civil engineer is not generally known. This is because he cannot often be found on the street corners or in the clubs or in the act of decorating grand opera with a vast white shirt front. He usually lives in the wilderness in hip boots and a last week's shave. After the ordinary man has lived in a wilderness for a few years his mother wouldn't know him. But after an engineer has lived in a wilderness the same length of time its mother wouldn't know it. The engineer is continually editing and revising nature, rearranging mountains, and making rivers back up and go the other way. He is as restless and unsatisfied with the way things look as the woman who always rearranges the parlor furniture while her husband is away so that he may fall over it when he comes home in the dark and receive a pleasant surprise.

The civil engineer has hung railroads on mountain sides, run tunnels under city streets, made oceans shake hands, harnessed up Niagara Falls, made parks out of the western deserts, and has put a reverse gear in the Chicago River. Some day he will begin experimenting with the earth's orbit and we may yet have Christmas at the Fourth of July and a weekly comet service to Mars-who knows? Logarithms and a square jaw working harmoniously can do almost anything.

Source: Quarterly Bulletin, Bureau of Public Works Manila 1915

Wednesday, September 11, 2013



Hermano/Dr. Jose Rizal as Civil/Sanitary Engineer

Researched By: Dindo F. Mojica, C.E., M.Eng, 3°

When Hermano/Dr. Jose Rizal arrived in Dapitan, (Now City of Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte, in Mindanao) as a prisoner in July, 1892, he found Dapitan as a sleepy little town; then he decided to improve it, to the best of his God-given talents, and to awaken the civic consciousness of its people.

Next Hermano Rizal acquired a piece of property at Talisay, a little bay close to Dapitan, and at once became interested in his farm. Soon he built a house and moved into it, gathering a number of boy assistants about him, and before long he had a school. A hospital also was put up for his patients and these in time became a source of revenue, as people from a distance came to the oculist for treatment and paid liberally.

One five-hundred-peso fee from a rich Englishman was devoted by Rizal to lighting the town, and the community benefited in this way by his charity in addition to the free treatment given its poor.

The little settlement at Talisay kept growing and those who lived there were constantly improving it. When Father Obach, the Jesuit priest, fell through the bamboo stairway in the principal house, Rizal and his boys burned shells, made mortar, and soon built a fine stone stairway. They also did another piece of masonry work in the shape of a dam for storing water that was piped to the houses and poultry yard; the overflow from the dam was made to fill a swimming tank.

Father Francisco Sanchez, Hermano Rizal's instructor in rhetoric in the Ateneo, made a long visit to Dapitan and brought with him some surveyor's instruments, which his former pupil was delighted to assist him in using. Together they ran the levels for a water system for the town, which was later, with the aid of the lay Jesuit, Brother Tildot, carried to completion. This same water system is now being restored and enlarged with artesian wells by the present insular, provincial and municipal governments jointly, as part of the memorial to Rizal in this place of his exile. [5]

He wrote to Fr. Pastells: “I want to do all I can do for this town." Aside from constructing the town’s first water system, he spent many months in draining the marshes in order to get rid of malaria that infested Dapitan. The P500 which an English patient paid him was used by him to equip the town with its lighting system which consist of coconut oil lamps placed in dark streets of Dapitan. Electric lighting was unknown then in the Philippines not until 1894 when Manila saw the first electric lights. The beautification and remodelling of the town plaza with the help of Father Sanchez enhances the beauty as jokingly remarked that it could "rival the best in Europe". In front of the church, Rizal and Fr. Sanchez made a huge relief map of Mindanao out of earth, stones, and grass. This map still adorns the town plaza of Dapitan. [4] [9]

As an engineer, Hermano Rizal applied his knowledge through the waterworks system he constructed in Dapitan. Going back to his academic life, Rizal obtained the title of expert surveyor (perito agrimensor) from the Ateneo Municipal. From his practical knowledge as agrimensor (surveyor), he widened his knowledge by reading engineering-related books. As a result, despite the inadequacy of tools at hand, he successfully provided a good water system in the province.

During his first school term in the University of Santo Tomas (1877-1878), Rizal also studied in the Ateneo. He took the vocational course leading to the title of perito agrimensor (expert surveyor). In these days, it should be remembered, the college for boys in Manila offered vocational courses in agriculture, commerce, mechanics and surveying.

Hermano Rizal, as usual, excelled in all subjects in the surveying course in Ateneo, with gold medals in agriculture and topography. At the age of 17, he passed the final examination in the surveying course, but he could not be granted the title of surveyor because he was below age. The title was issued to him on November 25, 1881. [9]

 Image Source:

 Image source: 

Image Source:

Modern engineers marveled how Rizal could have built such a system of waterworks, for he had inadequate tools and meager materials, and his finances were very limited. Without any aid from the government, he succeeded in giving a good water system to Dapitan.

An American engineer, Mr. H.F. Cameron, praised Rizal's engineering feat in the following words:

Another famous and well-known water supply is that of Dapitan, Mindanao, designed and constructed by the Spanish authorities... This supply comes from a little mountain stream across the river from Dapitan and follows the contour of the country for the whole distance. When one considers that Doctor Rizal had no explosives with which to blast the hard rocks and no resources save his own ingenuity, one cannot help but honor a man, who against adverse conditions, had the courage and tenacity to construct the aqueduct which had for its bottom the fluted tiles from the house roofs, and was covered with concrete made from lime burned from the sea coral. The length of this aqueduct is several kilometers, and it winds in and out among the rocks and is carried across gullies in bamboo pipes upheld rocks and is carried across gullies in bamboo pipes upheld by rocks or brick piers to the distribution reservoir. [3] [9]

 Image Source:

Other Information:

Rizal’s positive contribution in the field of construction most especially in public health was undoubtedly the construction of a water works system of the gravity type. He manufactured bricks and even invented a machine that turned out 6000 pieces a day. To collect additional materials for his dam, he suspended a piece of wood on the branch of a mango tree and challenged his pupils, some 20 in number, to try their skill by striking it with a stone from a certain distance, and that hit the bull’s-eye were given prizes in the form of cigarettes which were not intended to be smoked but were exchanged with bullets which were used in their hunting expeditions. In this way, and without much urging, he secured the necessary materials for his dam, and for cement they burnt shells collected from the wide shores of Dapitan. The outflow served to fill a swimming tank. The water was conducted along open canals lined with fluted tiles from ruined house tops and piped to his house thru old empty terracotta gin bottles (with the necks off) and bamboo joints, and at a convenient distance from the Poblacion, he built an artistic public fountain, reminiscent of those put up in Manila in 1880, with a base of cemented bricks, the water flowing out from the open mouth of a lion’s head which Rizal had fashioned out of clay. Lack of civic-mindedness and little thought for the preservation of public monuments were greatly responsible for its destruction by mercenary hands years later.

References/Suggested Readings:

1.       The Life and Works of Rizal (Rizal as Engineer and Architect) -

2.       The Life and Works of Rizal (Rizal in Dapitan) -

3.       The Official Website of the City of Dipolog - 

4.       Rizal: Man and Martyr by Frank C. Laubach

5.       The Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal by Austin Craig (Project Guttenberg)

6.       Rizal’s bakhaw formula (Landscape by Gemma Cruz-Araneta)

7.       Bakhaw: Salt Water Dwelling Trees

8.       Bakhaw (in Bisaya)

9.       Zaide, Gregorio F. Jose Rizal: Life, Works and Writings. Manila: National Book Store, 1992.

Other Information (References)

    10.  Dr. Jose P. Bantug, Rizal: Scholar and Scientist, 1946 pp. 25-27

    11.  Carlos Quirino, The Great Malayan, 1940 pp.261

    12.  Dr. Jose P. Bantug, “Rizal, the Physician”, The Journal of History, Vol. V No. 1-2 (1957), pp. 47-48