VILLANUEVA, Misamis Oriental––For residents in Sitio Kirahon, living without electricity means living half their lives in the dark. All activities literally grind to a halt once darkness falls since people relied only on the light from kerosene lamps. But even this necessity was considered a luxury because they would rather spend their hard-earned money on more important things than kerosene or candle which strong winds easily blew out.
During Christmas, the celebration and festivities were considered “tame” because of the absence of twinkling multi-colored lights. Only the intermittent light from kerosene lamps sparsely lighting homes.
But these all changed last December 2014, thanks to the Fostering Rural Electrification and Energization (Free) Program of SPI.
“For the first time in my life, we were able to celebrate Christmas complete with Christmas lights last December,” said 57-year-old Emilia Lood.
“There is now a big difference. It was very dark before and strong winds often blew out our lamps,” she said.
Nanay Emilia narrated that her immediate family’s future has been made brighter because they can now earn additional income even at night through her sari-sari (variety) store. Just a few months after her home has been connected to the grid through Free, Nanay Emilia bought a small refrigerator and a television set.
“We can now sell ice, iced water and soda. Our neighbors can now drink cold water or soda,” she said.
Nanay Emilia also ventured into battery charging for mobile phones and rechargeable flashlights. Even neighbors who have chosen in the meantime not to install electricity in their homes benefit from the electricity from Nanay Emelia’s home.
“We can now watch TV shows,” she said, adding that neighbors often congregate at her house at night just to watch their favorite TV shows.
The rural electrification project Free is jointly undertaken by the Department of Energy (DOE), the distribution utilities and SPI. It is being funded from the proceeds of the shares in the one-centavo per kilowatt hour of electricity sales generated from the operations of Steag State Power Inc.’s power plant.
Nanay Emilia said that for so long they have been living in the dark and they just grasp the opportunity that came their way to now live in the light. “It’s about time that we enjoy the benefits of the light. With electricity, our life is now much easier and the future much brighter,” Nanay Emilia said.