Latest Stories
Inquirer Southern Luzon

Solar energy changes lives of islanders

Green bulbs illuminate village huts in Quezon


SOLAR-POWERED Children play games under a solar-powered street light in remote Polillo island in Quezon province. INQSnap this page (not just the logo) to view more photos. TEAM ENERGY FOUNDATION INC./CONTRIBUTOR

Farmer Allan Batalla, 32, recalled the humdrum life in the boondock village of Lipata in the island town of Panukulan, Quezon, two years ago.

“After sunset the day was over. There were no more things to do except go to bed and sleep. It was boring, but the whole village had been used to it since time immemorial,” Batalla told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

Panukulan and two other municipalities—Polillo and Burdeos—are on Polillo Island off Lamon Bay facing the Pacific Ocean.

In September 2011, life in Lipata, a six-kilometer hike from the town proper, suddenly changed. Electricity from solar energy came through a public-private project initiated by the Department of Energy (DOE), Quezon Electric Cooperative II and TeaM Energy (TE) Corp.


‘Heart and Soul’

Called “Heart and Soul” (Household Electrification Assistance through Renewable Technology and Social Preparation for the Upliftment of Lives), the project was funded by the government through the DOE and implemented by Team Energy Foundation Inc. (Tefi), TE’s corporate social responsibility arm.

Started in January 2010 and completed in early 2013, it would help the government attain 90-percent village electrification across the country by 2017, said the project proponents.

Batalla said most of the villagers immediately bought cell phones after the installation of solar home systems in their place as there were signals from two giant telecommunication networks.

He said his two daughters who were enrolled in an elementary school, began getting good grades because they could study at night since a solar-powered bulb lighted their hut. The family used to spend P15 a day to buy kerosene for their “gasera” (kerosene lamp) so they could have light at night, but strong winds would easily put out the flame.

“Now, they can study all night long,” said Batalla, who is also president of the Renewable Energy Community Development Association (Recda) composed of 156 member-households.

Membership fee

Every member pays P800 membership fee that entitles them to acquire one unit of the solar home system costing P15,000.

In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Roderick de Castro, Tefi executive director, said Recda was organized to sustain the electrification program anchored on a multisectoral and community-driven approach.

Lipata also has two solar-powered street lights, Batalla said. One unit costs P80,000.

“The children can now play games even at night while their elders enjoy their own parties which used to be conducted in daytime,” Batalla said.

The electrification project entailed responsibility for the beneficiaries. They must pay P332 monthly fee to help defray costs for future maintenance of their solar home systems. Nonpayment after a 100-day grace period resulted in confiscation of the system from seven members of the association.

Economy spark

“Through our electrification program, along with livelihood training and capacity-building initiatives, we wish to spark local economic activity and improve socioeconomic conditions in these areas,” said Greggy Romualdez, head of TE external affairs.

The majority of the people in Burdeos, Patnanungan and Panukulan are poor farmers and fisherfolk who have been organized and trained to maintain and repair the stand-alone solar home panels. The solar home system is for only one house and the wire does not extend to neighbors.

“While many of us take electricity for granted, we must realize that there are still areas in our country that do not have access to this very basic necessity,” Romualdez said.

The off-grid electrification project of Tefi also covered two more villages in Panukulan, eight in Burdeos and six more barangays in Patnanungan. So far, it has energized a total of 551 households.

Romualdez stressed the importance of “load management”—turn the lights off when not in use, protect the solar panel from anything that could destroy it and always expose it toward the sun to charge the battery.

“They are advised not to use it other than what it is designed for—lighting, transistor radio and cell-phone charging,” he said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Energy , News , power industry , Regions , renewable energy

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Malaysia, Flight 370 relatives talk financial help
  • Celebrating Easter and creativity in New York
  • Man wins half marathon, dies in Argentina
  • Clouds to bring slight relief from summer heat
  • Canadians rally to legalize marijuana
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Marketplace