3 travellers go on trip to bring solar lights to off-grid areas
MANILA, Philippines – Take 3 young travellers, a Volkswagen Kombi, and solar lamps, and you get to bring light to off-grid provinces.
The travellers – Paul Quiambao, Alfie Agunoy, and Francis Sta. Romana, collectively known as The Baconeers – will go around the Philippines' 81 provinces in 6 months to bring solar light units to places without electricity.
Working with Liter of Light, a movement to provide eco-friendly lights to different off-grid areas, The Baconeers will teach the local Technical Education and Skills Development Authority centers how to create their own bottle lights and donate 5,000 units to the groups along the way.
The Baconeers' journey officially began on Earth Hour on March 19. During the main switch-off event from 8:30 to 9:30 pm, they planned to turn on their headlights "to help raise awareness that many Filipinos do not have access to electricity and light," their press statement said.
The trip will also "raise awareness for green energy," said Illac Diaz, executive director of Liter of Light.
After the Earth Hour celebration, the trio will move on to Pampanga to visit an Aeta community. They hope to arrive there by 4 pm to install the units.
The lights they will install in Pampanga were also built on March 19 with members of the VW club and 100 children. These units are powered by batteries connected to solar panels and would last for around 5 years, Diaz estimated.
The eco-friendly bottle lamps Liter of Light is known for are made with a clear plastic bottle filled with water and chlorine. The technology was developed by Alfred Moser and several students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (READ: Illac Diaz and lighting up communities)
Liter of Light's goal is to install 1 million bottle lamps across the Philippines by 2017.
DepEd going green
The Baconeers and Liter of Light's project is done in line with the Department of Education's (DepEd) solar program, according to Liter of Light.
In January 2016, the DepEd gave 400 homes in Misamis Oriental solar lamps to extend students' time for studying, while reducing the health risks related to kerosene fumes. (READ: Solar lamps give students glimpse of brighter future)
“Providing them electricity or solar lamps will help them extend their study time, thus increasing the chance to improve their academic performance,” said DepEd Undersecretary for Partnership and External Linkages Mario Deriquito.
For Diaz, however, there is a more efficient way of bringing light to the communities. He said that for imported lamps, "70% of the cost were just from logistics" which compromised quality.
This is why they decided to use locally-sourced materials and build the lamps with the communities' participation. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Can Filipino innovators compete on the world stage)
Using local materials and local talent, Diaz said he is sending a global message. "This is the Filipino way of teaching people to turn to sustainable energy." – Rappler.com