Discussing with Paang Bundok rural poor villagers
Last September 9, myself and Lemuel (mechanical engineer), Francis Lacuesta (electrical engineer), and Myrna Herisano (community organizer) conducted a community visit and pre-feasibility study in sitio Paang Bundok in Barangay San Celestino in Lipa, Batangas (Southern Luzon), Philippines.
During the household interviews, their main sources of income are charcoal making, fuelwood/bamboo gathering, and their cash crops are coffee and black pepper which only earns them a measly sum of $65 monthly per household.
If the solar water pumping system will be rehabilitated, the upland poor villagers can be provided water for backyard gardening which will augment and provide them with nutritious vegetables. They can also undertake livestock raising which is a lucrative business in the area such as swine and cattle fatttening, that can increase their average monthly income up to $90 per household. The villagers lead a simple life, and their educational attainment is usually only up to elementary level as they cannot afford college.
During the site visit, SIBAT engineers conducted a pre-feasibility study for wind turbine system and also to come up with the rehabilitation plan for the solar water pump system. Wind measurements were done, and results showed an average of 5 m/sec at 10 meters height indicating that wind turbine system is feasible and can be integrated with the rehabilitation of the solar water pumping system. This is good news for the Paang Bundok community, as wind turbine system is relatively cheaper than solar panels. SIBAT is now preparing the design for a wind-solar hybrid system for water pumping which will enhance the system further, harnessing both solar and wind resources that are renewable in nature hence environmentally sound and does not emit greenhouse gas emissions as compared to fossil fuel based power systems.
The community visit was also a good opportunity for us to know more about the community plans and aspirations of how they will overcome their problems. SIBAT would like to provide them additional trainings aside from the solar-wind technical operation and maintenance, but also on watershed management, agroforestry and environmentally sound technologies for environmental management and conservation of their beautiful upland forest. Ultimately, SIBAT would like to veer them away from environmentally degradation practices that depletes the forests such as charcoal and fuelwood gathering. Upland sustainable development practices that are appropriate to their land and culture such as upland diversified agroforestry technologies that are essentially organic and natural can be learned by the villagers. Enterprise development can also be programmed within their community plans, for them to have increased income generation that will optimize their natural resources while taking into account the ecological balance of nature.
Paang Bundok community is a very simple upland community, but for me it is paradise as compared to the polluted and stressful city life in Manila.
Setting up the bamboo for the anemometer
Violeta Pesa and her children
Christopher (11yrs old) fetching water for cow
Kaye, beautiful granddaughter of Tiya Belen