Residents of a remote community in the coastal barangay of Liminangcong, Taytay packed their plaza recently to watch a 33-foot tall solar-powered Christmas tree come to life.
The tree that can be found in Sitio Binaluan uses small solar panels for the Christmas lights.
The sitio is a beneficiary of the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc.’ (PSFI) Save, Invest, Nurture Access to Green Energy and Technologies (SINAG) program under the global theme Access to Energy (A2E).
PSFI Palawan program manager Marvi Trudeau, who led the lighting ceremony on November 14 with residents of the place, said the Christmas tree will get residents in Binaluan early into the holiday spirit.
“Every morning mamamatay ‘yang [ilaw ng Christmas Tree], kapag gabi sisindi nalang ‘yan on its own. Nakita niyo ‘yong mga bata how they really like it? Ay, ang ganda talaga! Ako to see them like that, ‘yon ‘yong nakakataba ng puso,” said Trudeau.
Binaluan, a coastal enclave in Barangay Liminangcong, is situated some 237 kilometers north of Puerto Princesa City. It is accessible through a three-to-four hour land and boat travel.
Trudeau said the people of Binaluan, being in a remote area of the province, are unlikely to be rendered power by the government or by any commercial power firms within the next five-to-10 years.
Binaluan is home to 509 indigenous peoples (IPs) which are mostly Tagbanuas and Cuyonons, said Antero Rebueno, PSFI-A2E senior project officer.
Rebueno explained Binaluan was once a recipient of the PSFI’s Movement Against Malaria (MAM) program because it is among the areas where malaria cases had been frequently recorded in the past. Now, the sitio is cleared of the life-threatening disease.
The PSFI’s SINAG program, he added, started the A2E’s Binaluan Micro-Grid in 2016 whose power system combines solar, wind, and diesel generator to energize the community.
Rebueno said this combination will give the system a chance to maximize each energy source at times when one of the sources of the power supply is not available.
“In case na hindi sumisikat ang araw, at medyo umiihip ang hangin, alam niyo naman kapag panahon ng habagat, malakas ang hangin panahon ng bagyo, usually walang araw, meron pa rin silang source of energy. Magcha-charge pa rin ang battery. [‘Yong generator], ‘yan po ay back-up generator, napakalaki, 33 kilovolt-amperes, in case po na walang araw at wala pa ring hangin, meron pa rin silang back-up energy,” said Rebueno.
The Binaluan Micro-Grid Project currently provides power to the community with 72 houses, a school building with four classrooms, church, daycare center, plaza stage, two purok centers, street lights, and a sitio basketball court.
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