Rural Tribal Community in the Philippines Enjoys Own Electricity
MINDANAO TRIBAL COMMUNITY ENJOYS OWN ELECTRICITY DESPITE POWER CRISIS
MALAYBALAY City, May 22, 2012—While Manila insists on privatizing two major power source to stem the alleged power shortage in Mindanao, a tribal community in the mountains of Bukidnon is enjoying a crisis-free source of power and potable water for years now.
Sourced from a small free-flowing stream that flows directly from the mighty Pulangi River, the mini-hydro power plant installed by the Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) is producing 10 KWs of electricity — just enough for the basic lighting needs of the 50 Pulangiyen households in Sitio Bendum in Barangay Busdi here. The ESSC spent about P1.5 million to have the mini-hydro power plant installed two years ago.
The same stream also provides ice-cold potable water to the tribe for the last 15 years already. Again thanks to the ESSC, which installed the P100,000-spring box to pump water from the stream to the households.
As the Pulangiyens struggle to preserve their own culture, tradition and practices, the onslaught of modern technologies brought by “outsiders” into their tribal life caused them to “reject” being connected to the mini-hydro power plant.
“When we constructed the mini-hydro power plant, we wanted it to energize the whole community of 50 households. However, the people preferred to be connected to the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative (BUSECO) because they already have refrigerators, televisions, and other appliances that rely on electricity,” said ESSC Program Director Eric “Popoy” Bruno.
The ESSC is a Jesuit research institute that promotes environmental sustainability and social justice through the integration of scientific methodologies and social processes.
Established by Fr. Pedro Walpole, SJ, the ESSC operates the Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center (APC) in Sitio Bendum as a response to the desire of the Pulangiyen people to read, write and be educated in the context of their culture and life.
The APC adheres to a needs- and culture-based education, a strong advocacy of Walpole, who believes that if one is to be a productive contributor to society he/she needs to be deeply-rooted in his/her culture. The APC also emphasizes the importance of making education accessible to indigenous cultural communities and in making the education system responsive to the needs of the people. It also recognizes the importance of integrating the community’s knowledge system and way of life in the school curriculum to sustain the culture and tradition of the Pulangiyen and other cultural groups in the area.
Bruno said the APC is the only structure in picturesque Bendum that is powered by the mini-hydro power plant. He, however, sees a very good future for the hydro plant as it now serves as a model that a small sitio or even barangay can be energized by a small free-flowing stream.
“We just have to be resourceful in taking advantage of whatever resources we have. But in doing so, we have to keep in mind that these resources are finite and therefore we have to use them sustainably. It is also important that we protect our immediate environment because it is our resource base,” he stressed.
In the construction of the mini-hydro plant and spring box, the ESSC made sure that no trees were felled or cut. The ESSC also maintains a reforestation area upstream in order to make the mini-hydro power plant viable for many years in the future. (Bong D. Fabe)