Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI), the social development arm of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, celebrates its 40th anniversary by highlighting the Sustain, Invest, Nurture, Access to Green Energy (SINAG) initiative, an Access to Energy (A2E) program. SINAG aims to provide cleaner and more efficient energy sources to communities. PSFI empowers residents by training them to maintain and operate the facilities on their own.
One of the beneficiaries of Project SINAG is Jasmin Calinog, 39, a teacher living in Barangay Maytegued, Palawan since 2008. Before SINAG, the community had to subsist on a generator for a mere four hours of power a day, contend with the heat with hand fans, and work or study at night under candlelight. Teaching was made even more difficult as she had to wake up at dawn to prepare learning materials.
SINAG’s implementation in the community of Maytegued was not only a welcome relief but also surpassed her expectations. “Pinakamaganda sa SINAG ay naging maaliwalas ang aming gawain, madali na naming matatapos, at convenient na talaga lahat noon dumating yung SINAG,” (“The best thing about SINAG is that it made our work lighter and more efficient, we could finish it easily, and everything became really convenient when SINAG arrived,”) said Calinog.
Powering Palawan’s livelihood and learning
PSFI provided the island community with a mini grid that generates electricity through solar and wind power. It allowed families to access reliable lighting at their homes, ports for charging devices, and a variety of services such as printing, cold storage, and internet bandwidth, all shared among the community.
The energy SINAG released enabled Calinog to print her teaching materials and work in a cool environment because of electric fans. This teacher also bought and used a freezer to open her own frozen products business.
The wi-fi networks and radios became SINAG’s most important pieces of equipment because they allowed Calinog to teach remotely during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During and even after the lockdowns, her students could study online, answer their modules in the comfort of their own homes, and stay updated on current events.
During the approach of the super-strong Typhoon Odette in December 2021, Barangay Maytegued prepared for its impact and kept their power sources on during the typhoon. As Calinog described that experience, “At dahil rin sa project SINAG, nagiging updated kami sa balita. Dati dati, iilang TV lang ang meron, kung sino lang may generator. Ngayon, halos lahat may TV, lahat updated, lalo na nung dumating yung bagyong Odette. Nakapag-prepare dahil nakakanood kami ng balita.” (And also because of Project SINAG, we stayed updated on the news. Previously, there were only a few TVs from those who had a generator. Now, almost everyone has a TV and everyone can be updated, especially when Typhoon Odette comes. We were able to better prepare because we could watch the news).”
Calinog’s is not the only success story with the implementation of the access to energy project.
Elvira Leanda Academia, a farmer and a sari-sari store owner, used to pay for the diesel generator to power her house and her store. SINAG’s arrival increased her income: first, the huge difference in power costs led to savings; and second, her purchase of a refrigerator helped her stock up on items she sold to customers.
Kamitze Harada, boat builder and one of the recipients of the Basic Electrical Installation and Management Training, bought power tools. He can build more boats within a week, opening more opportunities for more orders.
Batangas safety and entrepreneurship
SINAG also impacted other areas such as Batangas. Because of the new streetlight installations, barangay official Jan Alexis Fortu’s evening patrols to ensure the peace and security in Ambulong became safer. The Hon. Buenaventura Talban, an active barangay councilor who participated in the SINAG Batangas training, witnessed the transformation of San Isidro before and after the installation of 16 streetlights on the Batangas-Tabangao-Lobo Road, increasing road safety for residents and truck drivers.
Serge Bernal, Vice President for Corporate Relations of Pilipinas Shell, said, said, “From lighting up a home to powering appliances, energy is a key aspect of daily life. Shell’s Access to Energy program is made to power remote rural communities with a reliable source of renewable energy that improves the lives of the people by providing them a source of livelihood, an opportunity for better education, and unite them with their communities.”
To date, PSFI has provided power with its solar microgrid systems to 436 households in 13 communities that benefit 4260 individuals. Through its continuing efforts, PSFI hopes to help realize the promised development by providing uninterrupted power services – paving the way to access opportunities that were never before available.