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Bohol town gets solar package from One Meralco

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, August 30 (PIA) -- Blessings continue to pour upon a tribal community that decided to help manage, conserve, and preserve their forests not just for their posterity but also for the environment that needs a little help.

Lundag Eskaya Tribe and their Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LETMULCO) recently received a 5.4 megawatt solar electrification package that would be capable of powering their food processing business.

Through Meralco group of companies’ corporate social responsibility channeled to One Meralco Foundation (OMF), LETMULCO, through Chairman Apolonio Bia Jr. together with Pilar Mayor Engr. Wilson Pajo, Lundag Brgy. Chairman Edelio Balaba Sr. and its members, accepted from OMF the operational solar package through OMF Executive Director Jeffrey Tarayao on August 14.

The solar electrification package with solar panels installed on top of the barangay covered court can also serve the barangay government in times of emergency.

Organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through its Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management Program (INREMP), LETMULCO understood that the need to reforest and rehabilitate forests and fill in idle areas with forest cover can help Bohol secure a protection against calamities and the creeping effects of climate change.

Eskaya, the tribe they are on, have subsisted on farming and traditional ventures into the forest for food and lumber for shelter.

Hundreds of years of this practice has presented an unsustainable situation: forests are becoming thinner as the tribal population increased.

With their participation in the reforestation and environmental rehabilitation especially in their ancestral domains, the Eskaya tribe can even enhance their natural grounds.

Through INREMP, instead of venturing into the forests for food, the Eskayas went into camote and banana farming, which still contributes to the program objectives, the DENR said.

“In exchange for committing to replant and reclaim most of the forests affected by human encroachment, natural calamities, and the effects of changing climate, the DENR through INREMP granted the community farm-to-market road projects, infrastructure, and a livelihood package that includes a livelihood shed, banana, camote chip slicer and shredder, freezers, and other heavy duty food processing equipment,” said Bia during the turnover ceremonies.

Immediately, the women in the tribe underwent food processing training and operationalized their business, which is a strong support for Bohol’s tourism industry.

And then, just as the food processing business was starting to boom, Typhoon Odette struck, damaging around 50% to 60% of the livelihood shed.

“The equipment and food processing that we were able to salvage could not operate because of the power outage.We were back to zero,” said Bia, who is starting to nurse back the cooperative members to be active in the organization.   

Then came One Meralco, which chose seven people’s organization in Pilar town to help in their companies’ One Meralco For Trees Program of planting one million trees.

“As an OMF partner in the One for Trees Program, OMF visited Eskaya to see what they can do,” shared Tarayao during the program.

“As we were working on the electrification package, we did not know that LETMULCO also availed of the Department of Science and Technology’s Community Enhancement through Science and Technology, which granted the group additional food processing equipment like industrial baking ovens,” Tarayao said.

He said that a solar power package through OMF’s Agriculture and Livelihood Electrification could help the cooperative operate so that power outages could not hamper their operations.

With 5.4 MW of solar power, LETMULCO sure can now restart their business and further help refrain their people from overexploiting the forest for additional livelihood. (RAHC/PIA-7 Bohol)

Pilar Mayor Enger Wilson Pajo (left) talks with One Meralco Foundation Director Jeffrey Tarayao as LETMULCO members operate the camote chipper machine run by solar power provided through the foundation and its partner NGO Process Bohol. Camote chipping, which used to be done in hours, can now be finished in standard sizes within minutes through mechanization. (PIA Bohol)

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Rey Anthony Chiu

Regional Editor

Region 7

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