Today, there are still many communities throughout the Philippines that have no power, and this problem with electricity and lack of access to energy is something that needs to be addressed and improved. This problem affects families—from how they perform daily tasks to having an efficient livelihood. But a glimpse of hope shines from a distance.
Project Save, Invest, Nurture, Access to Green Energy and Technologies, or simply Project SINAG was established in 2014. Also known as the Access to Energy (A2E) Project, it aims to provide power to off-grid locations that have no prospects of being connected to an electricity grid in the next 5 to 10 years. The award-winning project has been implemented in various locations, one of which is Palawan.
This project offers hope and initiates action to empower communities and harness their resources to improve their quality of life. Two people who have experienced the effects of Project SINAG firsthand are Elvira and Kamitze.
Elvira Academia was born and raised in Binaluan, Palawan. At 47 years old, Elvira takes on her daily challenges both as a mother and as an entrepreneur. She lives with her husband and 6 children—4 of which are still studying.
Project SINAG’s presence has been a big help to Elvira’s life as well as her family’s. Back then, when the community had no power, progress had a high price. As a farmer, Elvira was able to make ends meet, but other sacrifices were needed to push through. For example, to have electricity throughout the day, Elvira’s family had to rely on generators. Kerosene lamps were the usual light source.
Elvira shared that her children were sent to other provinces so that they could study better, which was a common practice in their community. Additionally, her husband had to go to other cities for work. Without access to energy, their family was separated.
With the installation of Project SINAG, life seemed brighter than ever. Thanks to the newfound access to electricity, Elvira’s children are now fully capable of studying at home. Her husband can now also work within the area. Now, there’s also enough power for the whole community with more establishments like elementary schools and day cares opening, able to support online learning.
As a farmer, Elvira and her family lived in the mountains. When project SINAG was implemented, she decided to find other means of livelihood and started her own business selling refreshments. She was even able to buy a freezer with the money she now was able to save.
Power helped in making things look up for Elvira and her family. Now, they’re able to stay connected through the internet and charge their phones as they please without worrying about energy. She’s glad that her youngest never experienced the life she used to have, having to rely on generators and kerosene lamps.
Most of all, Elvira is glad that energy isn’t affecting her kids’ education. She’s noticed that now, they’re updated with what’s happening in the city and even the world. They’re able to watch the news and engage in school activities during online classes.
Kamitze Harada, previously a fisherman, lives in Binaluan with his wife and 4 kids. Before Shell came into the area, Kamitze Harada was already exploring livelihood opportunities in a different field. He had skills related to electrical work but had difficulties landing a job as he didn’t have a college diploma.
Through PSFI, Kamitze was able to finish his education. He became one of the recipients of the Basic Electrical Installation and Management training provided for those who will operate Project SINAG’s microgrid, earning him a TESDA-accredited certificate.
With this, he was able to apply for a job as a linesman in another barangay, but due to a tragic accident, he experienced third degree burns all over his body and ultimately lost one of his limbs.
After recovering from the accident, Kamitze set out to continue providing for his family. Now becoming differently abled, he had difficulties finding employment as he was unable to work as a linesman. Further into his recovery, he found a different means of supporting his family by becoming a boat builder.
Even before his predicament, Kamitze knew that life in Binaluan was difficult because of the limited to no access to electricity. There were portable generators but only a few, and these wouldn’t be enough to preserve meals through freezers, provide light throughout the day, nor even ensure running water for the community. Finding ways to educate children and provide them with the right tools for learning was challenging, and community members had to travel to other cities to find work.
Being a boat builder also came with its own set of problems. Without electricity, Kamitze had to take a boat and commute to the city center just to be able to do welding or repairs. Since he does his procedures manually, one boat would usually take him 2 to 3 weeks.
Project SINAG was a beacon of hope for a lot of people, and Kamitze was no exception.
Now, his family can store food without the risk of it going to waste, and running water is no longer an issue. Additionally, there is no need for kerosene lamps anymore, and they feel safe within their community as it is no longer dark but bright and well-lit everywhere they turn.
Eventually, he was able to purchase power tools to build boats in a week. Given this, Kamitze shared that the best part of SINAG is having the peace of mind that comes with having his family complete and by his side.
Project SINAG continues to improve many lives across different communities in the country, such as those of Elvira and Kamitze.
More than contributing to achieving a sustainable livelihood and improving access to education, Project SINAG provides the power to keep families together in rapidly changing times. 40 years into powering progress, PSFI continues to move forward and empower more families and communities across the country.