The pleasures from water fountains PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 December 2011 13:28


Phnom Penh, Cambodia —  My consulting work here in the university has kept me rather busy during these two weeks that I have been here. I have had very little time to sit down at my computer to put down some thoughts to share with my readers, and there have been a good sampling.

The central part of Phnom Penh is a charming city  with a good number of parks and shaded areas where people gather early in the morning and late in the afternoon – the times of day when the searing heat of the sun is not too intense. You would see people doing calisthenics or tai chi, children playing, walking their pets or simply sitting quietly watching the world go by.

One of the biggest of these areas is what is called the Hun  Sen Park, named after the Prime Minister.  One of the features of this park is a fountain which at night is flooded with colored light and the water streams move to background music. Not too far from this, in a very well know landmark, is the Independence Monument which at night also has a dancing fountain.

What is so special with a fountain, you might ask. We also have a fountain in Zamboanga’s Plaza Pershing. Well the difference between Zamboanga and Phnom Penh is the cost of having the pleasure of watching the fountains. One of the news items I read in Zamboanga before I left was that of the plan to charge a certain fee for watching the fountain. Huh?  Someone I know jokingly said that if there is a fee for watching then he would turn his head away each time he would pass the plaza  so that he would not have to pay the fee. Now I don’t know whether the reporter of that item wrote up the item correctly or he hit it right on the head. If the latter, then it seems that in Zamboanga we have to pay for even the simple pleasure of watching a fountain.

I quite agree that there are certain costs for maintaining a fountain but surely there are also certain pleasures that the city can provide as part of its services to the people. Experiencing  the sight of streams of water shooting into the air can be relaxing  and lowers stress and this can lead to good health, less medical costs and more positive interactions between people. Lowering the stress would be most important for Zamboanga seeing as how most of us are anxious about security due to criminality, threats of kidnapping and bombings, and the blackouts and the low water pressure.

There may not be people who do calisthenics or dancing in our parks like they do here in Phnom Penh. Let that be. But surely we would not want them to pay for the pleasure of enjoying the sight of a water fountain.