Buhisan Dam – Cebu, Philippines

Buhisan Dam Cebuanos finally got their first glimpse of piped water when the Buhisan Dam, the only one outside Manila, was first tested at the reservoir in Tisa, Labangon, on December 27, 1911. While the availability of potable water was still about two months away, it was poignant that the trial, which drenched many a Cebuano, came on Holy Innocents Day. For hundreds of children and infants had succumbed to another round of the cholera epidemic the previous year.
The dam was the brainchild of the young Philippine Assembly Speaker Sergio Osmeña Sr. in response to the fires and cholera epidemics that regularly visited Cebu. An equally young engineer named E.J. Halsema (who would later build Kennon Road) was tapped by the Bureau of Public Works to do the daunting task of designing the dam and its accompanying waterworks. Constructed by the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific (AG&P) had to build a small-gauge railway line from port to construction site to carry cement imported from Hong Kong and about 4,000 tons of steel from Glasgow, in Great Britain. A strike in the steelworks almost caused a delay in the project’s completion. But construction was fatefully aided by a long drought that befell Cebu even as torrential rains poured down on the rest of the archipelago.
On hand to witness the groundbreaking ceremony on January 3, 1911 were Osmeña (for whom the accompanying waterworks was named) and Governor General William Cameron Forbes.
On February 17, 1912, the same party came to a fountain makeshift rotunda far from the city, to inaugurate Cebu’s first waterworks.