23 Mar2011

Pinoy “ATM” :)

by Marketman

On the bright side, a real testament to making the best of meager resources. Inventive, practical extremely consumer oriented. For weeks last year I had been hearing side comments at the office about the new “ATM’s” while on trips to Cebu. I assumed everyone was now opening new banking accounts… duhh. Turns out the ATMs were an abbreviation for “Automatic Tubig Machine” or Automatic Water Machines! I took these photos a year ago, but forgot to post them. For one peso (2.4 U.S. cents) put into the “ATM”, you get 250ml of chilled purified water straight into either your recyclable container, or on the dark side, a cheap plastic bag that inevitably ends up polluting the planet. I wonder who dreamt that up?! And whoever did, along with many other copycats, are making a KILLING with them. Each “ATM” unit costs roughly PHP10,000 and you make your money back by pricing up the bottled water that is now sold chilled and in smaller portions! Here is Marketman’s take on the economics of ATMs… For every 5 gallon container of water that you buy for say PHP30-35 bulk deliveries, you get to dispense 18 liters or 72 portions of chilled water. Your gross revenue is roughly PHP71, give or take a peso for inaccurate measures and wastage. Your gross margin is roughly PHP2.2 per liter sold. If you manage to have a busy location and sell some 400 portions or 100 liters a day of water, then you would have a gross income of say PHP220 a day. Allocate PHP50 a day amortization for your machine and PHP70 for labor, electricity and plastic bags, et al, and you clear PHP100 a day in pure profit. That would translate to say PHP35,000+ per year on an investment of just PHP10,000. A 350%+ return!!! No wonder they are popping up everywhere. :) Of course you need a busy location and enough customers to buy at least 400 portions a day. But your machine would be fully paid for in just 200 days, and that would mean higher profits after that. Of course you’ll have other risks to contend with… repairs, blackouts, contaminated water, dirty hands touching the spouts, machine malfunctions, stealing (notice the machine is chained to a cement wall!), etc.

On the “dark side,” I think this “invention” says volumes about the buying power of the average Filipino consumer on the street these days. Along with 1-2x use of shampoo sachets, packets of instant noodles, two cloves of garlic in plastic, etc., everyone is buying as little as they can on a per unit basis. This is uneconomical in that the poorest ended up paying the most for many basic products, including clean water. I have railed against sachet retailing because of the garbage and pollution and damage they must do to the environment — clogging esteros, canals, dumps, and even our seas. It would be wiser, though less hygienic to just head over to your neighborhood sari-sari store and buy a squirt of shampoo for LESS than a sachet before you take a shower AND you wouldn’t have the packaging/pollution problem either. So now, if only the folks that invented the ATM would do ASD’s (Automatic Shampoo Dispensers), ALD’s (Automatic Lotion Dispensers), ATootM’s (Automatic Toothpaste Dispensers), etc… that would be even more interesting. :)



  1. Clarissa says:

    First to comment! Yay :) I thought at first it was some kind of “ride” given the token feature they have that are the same on every amusement/gaming area that I go to :)

    I guess if you have limited money resource, you can’t imagine investing in “bulk” buying, lasting for more than a week/month’s use. It’s only when you have spare money to spend that you can enjoy this advantage, which I guess, doesn’t work for most people in the Philippines.

    Mar 23, 2011 | 6:23 pm


  2. Notice: Undefined variable: oddcomment in /home/marketman/marketmanila.com/wp-content/themes/marketmanila-v2/comments.php on line 33
  3. Junb says:

    Hahaha only in the Philippines !!! In most developed countries like Singapore you will get free drinking water at malls and parks considering that it doesn’t have natural resources.

    Mar 23, 2011 | 6:36 pm

  4. Junb says:

    On the bright side Warren Buffet started on a vending machine business. Who knows we might have the next Buffet? No!

    Mar 23, 2011 | 6:38 pm

  5. Connie C says:

    If only the community were organized enough, got along well enough, have the integrity and a real community spirit, did not have the” crab mentality” and have the means to start a cooperative. It could be a win win situation. Maybe a help from the Rotary club? a spin off community project for the Couples for Christ movement of the more progressive strain? the local parish? the town mayor’s project? a barangay project? a piggyback to livelihood programs?

    Perhaps some micro economics and civics taught in our schools? Or am I dreaming?

    Mar 23, 2011 | 6:50 pm

  6. Giancarlo says:

    I was really surprised when I visited Cebu when I saw many of these. Nice take on the economics of the Automatic Tubig Machines.

    Mar 23, 2011 | 6:51 pm

  7. kAi says:

    One time I was really curious about these “ATM”s around the city, I tried one, fun, but kinda got worried about the quality of water. Baka kasi contaminated or something. So far nothing happened… ehehe…

    Mar 23, 2011 | 6:57 pm

  8. atbnorge says:

    The only thing I could tolerate in a sachet is “kasubha” (saffron).

    @Connie C, you’re not the only one dreaming. After seeing the mountain of garbage in front of the public market one morning, I dreamed of being the mayor of my town and thought, “Ipagbabawal ko ang plastic sa bayang ito!”

    I suddenly miss the days when fish, meat, and almost everything were wrapped in old newspaper. Couldn’t people use the basket again? Couldn’t they just bring their own drink in a bottle? (Sigh.)

    Mar 23, 2011 | 7:42 pm

  9. Chinky says:

    Muntinlupa bans the use of “sand” or any kind of plastic bags for stores and groceries to pack goods. S&R, major supermarkets, stores in the malls now use boxes or paper bags or shoppers bring their own bag. Not perfect but definitely a good start. Not too many shoppers complain as they know what plastics do to the environment!

    Mar 23, 2011 | 8:32 pm

  10. tonceq says:

    *slaps forehead* ATM! ingenious hehe! Initially though it was some sort of primitive ATM (based on first glance) and wondered if there were ATMs back in Aguinaldo’s time (only dispenses peso coins)! xp But yes, I would have my doubts about the waters quality if I were to get some from that machine and I also still believe in the use of those round and slim containers that you have refilled from the water stations… Better yet if we can directly get potable (note: clean) water from our taps but I think we won’t have problems with over population if everyone started drinking from their taps in our current state! :o

    Mar 23, 2011 | 8:41 pm

  11. fried-neurons says:

    I saw one of those machines at the Loboc River Cruise terminal in Bohol. I just assumed they were everywhere in the Philippines. Kinda reminded me of the water dispensers found outside American supermarkets. The difference is that the US ones dispense water by the gallon, not “tingi” like the Philippine ones.

    Mar 23, 2011 | 10:04 pm

  12. kitchen says:


    Mar 24, 2011 | 1:47 am

  13. mariasaamerica says:

    MM: I just wanted to let you know that your posts are showing up on the Facebook page of Philippines World Network. I don’t know if they have your permission; I wanted you to be aware of it. Another case of plagiarism????

    Mar 24, 2011 | 7:09 am

  14. louinsanfran says:

    “ATM!!!” hahaha. Leave it to Pinoys to create the most comical if appropriate name. Automated tubig machine, hahaha. And it has great Internal Rate of Return. Wonder if it is subject to some government inspection, though.

    Mar 24, 2011 | 7:13 am

  15. millet says:

    we’ve had those ATMS for a while here in davao, too! but yes, the poorer the economy, the smaller the portions of consumer goods tend to be. people don’t have money to buy in bulk, or do not realize that they’re paying a lot more for those sachets.

    Mar 24, 2011 | 7:52 am

  16. Mimi says:

    I wonder if the water sold has any certification of some kind to assure the public that it is truly clean…there should be some check of sorts to test its purity?

    Mar 24, 2011 | 7:56 am

  17. Marketman says:

    mariasaamerica, it seems to be a page that re-posts posts from other blogs… they try to get traffic by mentioning sites with high traffic volumes. Not plagiarism if they provide links back to the original source, otherwise, it would be in a sense taking material without attribution. And no, sites like these don’t often bother to even ask if they can use feeds…

    Mar 24, 2011 | 8:05 am

  18. Bubut says:

    it think the water is clean and if not, there will be lots of complain to be given to the owner. i saw that one years back and still open up to now at kalayaan / c5 near cembo going to Lanuza st.

    Mar 24, 2011 | 9:31 am

  19. present tense says:

    I think our gov’t agencies should have these ATMs for standard gov’t transactions both locally and nationally. They stand to earn millions yet would cut costs on gov’t salaries or graft. On a national level, the DTI business name or on the local level, business clearances. Even for POEA or police or NBI clearances. Just something to ponder on.

    Mar 24, 2011 | 9:44 am

  20. jakbkk says:

    what the Philippines (especially rural and urban depressed areas) major, major really needs are A LOT OF A.C.D.s – Automatic Condom Dispensers!!!! Let’s D.O.H. It!!!

    Mar 24, 2011 | 10:49 am

  21. cris says:

    i first saw this in leveriza st. near the corner of buendia, a few years back. i always found it funny, as we filipinos have a penchant for puns in business names.

    Mar 24, 2011 | 11:50 am

  22. bianco says:

    hey, ATMs? they’re quite popular in the poor communities here in the metro, I’ve been seeing a lot of these contraptions for the past 3 years I think.

    Mar 24, 2011 | 1:16 pm

  23. Chef_Ron says:

    2 years ago i had a food demo at P.U.P. and that was the first time i saw this ATM. i was amazed it was funny!

    Mar 24, 2011 | 6:38 pm

  24. Rob says:

    Dont ignore the buying power of the masses.

    Mar 24, 2011 | 8:14 pm

  25. gensanite says:

    “ATootM’s”? that’s very original, MM!!! nice insight on this post, by the way – especially on (dirty) hands touching the spouts, garbage problems, etc… i think this is the new generation’s, “water in a sachet” a.k.a. your friendly sari-sari store’s “iced water”… hahaha…

    Mar 24, 2011 | 8:49 pm

  26. rita says:

    plastic bags??? not plastic cups?

    “dirty hands touching the spouts” – ewww. i’m sorry, but that just grossed me out.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 6:16 am

  27. pileggi - Canada says:

    I agree jakbkk What the country needs is an ACDs Automated Condom Dispenser (tingi) in every corner if not in every school & offices comfort rooms urban & rural areas . Privatized or can also be sponsored by the Goverment & Phamaceutical Companies. We have to think of the next GENERATION. It is a pity to see kids running around naked in flea markets and who knows if they can even afford a clean water to drink or have a clean bath. ATM (tingi) …should have been free especially for kids.

    Mar 26, 2011 | 2:09 am

  28. shalimar says:

    I was waiting for a friend at near Abellana High School to get my press pass for Sinulog when I saw a boy dropping a coin in one of this machine.
    I got curious I looked at it really cracked me up when I saw ATM!!!!

    Mar 26, 2011 | 4:50 am


Market Manila Home · Topics · Archives · About · Contact · Links · RSS Feed

site design by pixelpush

Market Manila © 2004 - 2021