by Kristine Sabillo | May 15, 2021 | Published by ABS-CBN News | READ THE STORY HERE
MANILA — For the last 5 decades, members of the Dumagat-Remontado tribe living in Brgy. Laiban, Tanay, Rizal have been without electricity.
Located at the foot of the majestic Sierra Madre mountain range, Sitios Magata and Manggahan had remained unconnected to the Philippines’ power grid due to their remote location and the threat of flooding with the construction of the then proposed Laiban Dam.
As soon as the sun set, residents of the two sitios had to halt their livelihood activities and children had to stop studying – unless their household could afford a generator set or had received a home solar power system.
The communities’ need for electricity became urgent when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Filipino children to undergo blended learning through printed modules and online classes last year.
The already complicated energy situation in the sitios worsened when Typhoon Ulysses struck Luzon in November 2020 and completely damaged a bridge connecting the sitios.
In January this year, non-government organization Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, climate advocacy group 350 Pilipinas and the local Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilya Team turned over 3 solar TekPaks and 3 NIWA solar power systems to the two communities.
Arturo Tahup, Associate for Community Resilience of the (ICSC), said they and their partner organizations decided to extend help after hearing about what happened.
“In terms of need for energy, clearly (they’re) off-grid. In terms of impact ni Quinta, Rolly, Ulysses, (it was) clear. Kita na wasak ‘yung tulay. Inanod. Tapos iyong mga riverbanks at ibang mga bahay naanod din,” Tahup said, referring to successive storms that struck last year.
(In terms of need for energy, clearly they’re off-grid. In terms of impact of typhoons Quinta, Rolly, Ulysses, it was clear. Their bridge crumbled and was swept away by the river. The riverbanks and houses were also devastated.)
“The objective is to provide humanitarian renewable energy via the Tekpaks to Dumagat-Remontado community who for a long time are suffering from electricity poverty,” Tahup said of their Solar Scholars Training Program.
The 3 solar TekPaks or portable solar-powered generators given to Magata and Manggahan were made and donated by 350 Pilipinas volunteers and Typhoon Yolanda survivors from Leyte and Eastern Samar.
The survivors, who experienced the negative effects of climate change when Typhoon Yolanda killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines in 2013, were “solar scholars” trained by the ICSC.