Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Good day to everyone!
There is great reason to be electrified with joy in the Philippines over the electrification of the islands. For sooner or later, way before 2010 is over, no more town or village shall ever remain darkened by the eons-old absence of electricity. Power development will then move on to its more ambitious tasks, including electrifying the powerless zones of other countries.
As a little boy then who grew up in the entrepot town of Tuguegarao, I knew what it is to have zero electricity. Power generation was weak in the 1960s to mid-70s, and at times power was available only once every three (3) days. I had to use ‘candle power’ to light my way to academic success, but at the cost of ending up in high school with an uncorrectable near-sighted vision and missing out on the military academy that required perfect eye vision for entry.
With my eyes damaged by the weak power generation, I was “compelled” instead to study in the premier state university. After finishing my sociology degree, with some background in industrial engineering, I vowed to plunge my hands in my own boyhood region’s development, vowed “rage against the dying of the light” by coercing stakeholders, where necessary, to electrify the area, or else…
My agency of choice, the Ministry of Human Settlements or MHS, was so powerful we technical staff and execs practically sat and imprinted our hands in all of the interagency committees in any area, down to the grassroots. Cagayan then had the luck of prioritizing electrification, via the CIADP (Cagayan Integrated Area Development Project) that was directly under the country’s president, and so my task of monitoring and seeing to it that the set targets were done on electrification and other goals (irrigation, infrastructures) will be achieved as much as possible. Where bottlenecks will surface, my agency will refer the matter upstairs to quicken the resolution of the gridlocks. By dint of this arrangement, as convenor of the provincial development council here I had a real good chance of “coercing” (well, influencing is better) stakeholders to do their job well.
In Batanes, where I dipped my hands in 1981-82, there was already an advanced plan to electrify Batan and Sabtang islands via the National Electrification Administration’s intervention. Batanes had zero electricity then, save for Basco the provincial hub that was powered by a generator. My task here was more of listening to the local planners and implementers, report the same to my bosses, and to input the progress as a planning item for the forthcoming livelihood program KKK (knowing when power comes allowed us to project what enterprises to plan and support, since refrigeration will be made possible in due time there, thus enabling food preservation).
Those were the days, my friends. Today the national landscape is one where close to 97% of villages are lighted. Grid interface technology had already been perfected and attained ‘over-developed’ status, permitting our experts to help not only ourselves but even the USA perfect its current overflow problems in the east coast. In villages that cannot access to the main grids, hybrid technologies are the option tracks such as solar power. Our engineers design and mass manufacture solar panels right here, just to remind you.
Another source of our joy is the fact that our power sector is one of the most dynamic in the Philippines and in East Asia as a whole. Thanks at least to the brilliance of the development planners and managers in the sector, it had surged way ahead. The challenge for the sector, in light of possible global crisis over oil supply bottlenecks and problems, is to fast-track alternatives to petrol. RP’s dependence on oil is actually down to a mere ¼ of its supply, and is still going down.
But the technological revolutions here aren’t over yet. Solar, geothermal, and wind power are now in their advanced prototype mass production and implementation phases. Meanwhile, ocean power is silently being researched on. While ocean power R&D goes on, biofuels are being mass produced though this energy source is highly politicized and contentious. Biofuel is only a stop-gap, and by 2020 the nation may be on the road to geothermal, wind and ocean power as the chief sources of electricity.
There we go, partners. RP’s power generation, grid interphase leading the way more so, is way high above the clouds. Without doubt the energy sector here deserves accolades. Cheers to RP’s electrification!