And then there was light
"This is the story of a remote village in Zambales province."Like any typical 12-year-old in his town, Jaderick Castillo grew up idolizing NBA stars, dreaming of watching them play. But that’s as far as he can get then—dream. For Jaderick, along with the rest of the 1,000 denizens of a remote village in San Marcelino in Zambales, grew up in the dark, almost literally as their town had been neglected for generations, with virtually no house in their community having the luxury of experiencing how electricity would work for them. Until last June 7, when a Chinese-funded solar project lit up the mountain village of Baliwet. Electricity supply finally arrived in this remote village. With the event coinciding with Dragon Boat Festival, the Chinese staff working for the State Grid Corporation of China brought children who live in Baliwet dozens of zongzi, the sticky rice dumplings served during the annual Festival and they tasted traditional Chinese food for the first time. It was a brand new experience for the children and the whole village as reported by Xinhua to have electricity, produced by solar stations donated by Chinese company SGCC. The solar project not only brightens up the remote village, but also offers a ray of hope to the poor villagers who have no access to electricity for decades and depended solely on kerosene gas lamps and batteries to power their TV sets and flashlights. Due to its remoteness, no local power company is willing to invest in Baliwet. Villagers had to travel several kilometers to town to charge their mobile phones. As part of the closer ties between China and the Philippines, SGCC signed in Baliwet a memorandum of agreement in January with the Philippine National Electrification Administration and the Zambales II Electric Cooperative for the solar project. Under the deal, SGCC’s “Brighten Up” project would install a solar panel system for Zameco II, capable of delivering power to over 1,000 residents including two schools with 108 students in the village. The project, which will be officially finished at the end of June, is hoped to lift the villagers out of poverty and lead them to a bright future. According to Liu Ming, the deputy chief representative of SGCC Philippine Office, the “Brighten Up” project is the first charitable project independently launched by a Chinese-funded enterprise in the Philippines.
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