The Solar Energy Systems Project of DOST-MIMAROPA, implemented in collaboration with DOH-MIMAROPA, was one of the finalists in the first Benita and Catalino Yap Foundation (BCYF) Innovation Awards under the Government Service Category.
The BCYF awards aims to honor excellence and recognize innovations that demonstrate breakthrough achievements in Government Service, Tech-Voc Education, Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and Agribusiness.
In the awarding ceremony held at the Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace last February 20, 2017, various DOST technologies were recognized for making significant strides in improving the quality of life of every Filipino people.
The innovation of providing a reliable and renewable energy source for the province of Marinduque was initiated in pursuit of DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Ma. Josefina Abilay’s advocacy of providing meaningful improvement in rural communities through S&T solutions.
Solar Energy Systems in MIMAROPA
The project started in 2014 when SES was installed in a small Barangay Health Center in Brgy. Dolores, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque. The project aimed to harness the potentials of renewable energy sources and provide sustainable energy to communities that are struggling with limited supply of electricity. The solar equipment consists of roof-mounted solar panels, inverter, charge controller, and batteries that can provide reliable electricity for lighting fixtures, ventilation, and cold storage of vaccines— factors that are essential in the delivery of quality primary healthcare services by doctors and comfortable and safe birth giving of mothers. SES also allows health facilities to be operational in a 24-hour basis.
SES can also be used to power the RxBox unit – a telehealth device deployed in RHUs used for diagnostic procedures and storage and referral of clients’ medical records. With the SES, rural communities have gained more access to new healthcare technologies and its health facilities can now avoid disruptions in treatments and improve their patients’ health even if electrical power lines in their areas are down.
The project was a success that other local government units were eager to replicate it. Aside from government health facilities, barangay halls in Marinduque were also installed with SES to provide more reliable power and be used as temporary shelters for people who were displaced by disasters. The SES allowed government facilities such as RHUs and barangay halls to serve as evacuation centers that through the SES have appliances such as electric fans, lighting fixtures, and communication devices working even during power outages. Brgy. Balanacan in Mogpog is among the barangay halls installed with SES in Marinduque. According to one of its councilors, bringing solar-powered light to communities in need like them has played a big role in their disaster relief efforts. For other LGU officials, what started out as a small initiative has become a lifeline to many Marinduqueños.
Marinduque Governor Carmencita O. Reyes commended the Regional Office “for instituting a number of significant projects that greatly brought impact to the lives of the Marinduqueños. One such is the Solar Energy System Project which is being implemented in several barangays including rural health units in the province.” The good governor also added, “Your initiativeness (sic) has benefited so many people especially in ensuring effective and sustainable delivery of our healthcare services… in the rural remote communities. Moreover, your project has ensured our barangay halls the needed power supply to continuously cater to the needs of our constituents.”
Dr. Joselito Garcia Awat, Municipal Health Officer in Boac said, “Ang munisipyo po ng Boac ay labis na nagpapasalamat sa [DOST-MIMAROPA at DOH-MIMAROPA] sa pagbibigay ng ganitong proyekto ng solar energy system para sa RHU na kung saan ay magagamit po namin sa aming vaccine, sa ilaw, sa solar fan, at printer. Ito po ay napakalaking bagay para sa ganitong lugar na kung saan ay salat o hindi derecho ang pagbibigay ng serbisyo pagdating sa kuryente. Sa ngayon po, ang Bantay Health Center ay pwede nang gamitin kung saka-sakaling may panahon ng kalamidad na kung saan ang mga evacuees po natin ay pwedeng tumigil dito sa evacuation center kung saan mayroon silang magagamit na pansamantalang ilaw para sa kanilang pananatili dito.”
Davis Troy Q. Alvarico, Barangay Kagawad, and Chairman for Health in Brgy. Maniwaya shares, “Kami ay nagpapasalamat sa DOST-MIMAROPA at DOH-MIMAROPA sa pagkakaloob ng isang set ng solar power sa aming health center. Malaking tulong ito sa amin dahil ang isla ay mayroon lamang na walong oras na serbisyo ng kuryente at kadalasan ay brownout dahil sa hindi makayanan ng makina na mag-supply sa buong isla. Nagkaroon ng 24 oras na supply ng kuryente na malaking tulong upang maiimbak ang mga gamot upang hindi mawala ang mga bisa nito.”
Nancy C. Macaburas of the Pagkakaisa sa Kaunlaran ng Yook (PAKAY), a community-based enterprise located in the municipality of Buenavista who have also benefitted from the solar energy system provided by DOST-MIMAROPA, said, “Makakatipid (na po kami) sa kuryente.”
Maria Concepcion J. Camua, Principal of Binunga Elementary School, also in Buenavista, said, “Nagpapasalamat po kami sa DOST-MIMAROPA… sa pagbibigay ng proyektong Solar Energy System para sa operations ng aming paaralan. [Bukod po roon] sa ngayon po ay mas nakahanda na ang aming paaralan upang maging evacuation center sa Brgy. Yook. Sa tulong ng proyekto, nakakasiguro na ang mga evacuees na may maayos na ilaw at solar fan ang mga silid-aralan na pansamantala nilang tutuluyan sa panahon ng sakuna.”
Former Mayor of Mogpog municipality, Senen M. Livelo, Jr., said, “Amin pong ipinaaabot ang taos-pusong pasasalamat sa DOST-MIMAROPA sa pagbibigay ng proyektong solar energy system sa aming bayan… sana po ay patuloy pa rin ang suporta ng bawat isa sa atin sa lahat ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno.”
Current Mayor of Mogpog municipality, Augusto Leo M. Livelo added, “Through the [Solar Energy System] project, the municipality particularly the Barangay Halls are able to access free renewable energy source of electricity to power these establishments and provide the necessary services to its constituents especially during the time of electricity failure or brownouts, which is frequent in our municipality... the value of this project was even more appreciated during the occurrence of natural calamities. The barangay halls and the rural health units were used as evacuation centers and the available power allowed us and the community members to maintain communication lines through basic power support available. We at the Municipality of Mogpog are very much thankful for this project.”
To date, with the support of the LGUs in Marinduque, four (4) RHUs, 13 households, two (2) elementary schools, four (4) processing plants, and 18 baranggay halls in the province are using alternative power supplies through the SES.
Starting this 2017, the project will expand further with again the help from DOH-MIMAROPA. A total of 29 SES units will be installed in selected RHUs spread across the MIMAROPA Region’s five island provinces— Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan. As of April, the installation has already been completed in 14 identified RHUs across the region. The next batch of installation is set to be completed by 2018.
Other DOST-developed technologies that were recognized during the awarding ceremony were the Food Innovation Center (FICs), oneSTore.ph, Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s (FNRI) Rice Fortification Program, and the first ever BCYF Innovation Awardee, the One-Stop Laboratory Services for Global Competitiveness or OneLab.