Calinog, Iloilo – Kerosene lamps and torches are now articles of the past for the Indigenous Peoples (IP) families of Barangay Cahigon, this town. What used to be an elusive dream for them in the mountainous area has become a reality when their request for electrification was heed and granted. 60 IP households were initially provided with electricity by the Iloilo II Electric Cooperative (ILECO II) through the Barangay Line Enhancement Program (BLEP).
The five million BLEP availed by Brgy. Cahigon was secured through the continued partnership of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), proponent of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Stage II (JRMP II), Provincial Government of Iloilo (PLGU), Municipal Government of Calinog (MLGU), and ILECO II. The implementation of the program commenced in October 2015 and has energized 60 out of its 180 target households. This is one of NIA’s commitmentsto the affected IPs of the JRMP II.
“Nalipay guid kami bangod may ara na kami kuryente sa bukid. Madugay na ini namon nga handum (We are happy that we finally have electricity here in the mountain. This has long been our dream)," said 65-year old Ma. Luz Lebuna of Sitio Patag who was in all smiles during the interview. She lived all her life in the place and said she was used to the flicker of the kerosene lamp that provided them light at night.
“Amo daya gali kun may kuryente na, makatuon na maayo kun gab-i ang mga kabataan kag makatulog na kami maayo kay may suga na sa palibot kang amon balay. Katawhay guid sang amon pagpangabuhi. (When there is electiricty, our grandchildren can study well at night and we can sleep soundly and secured knowing that our backyard is well lighted. Our lives have become comfortable)," she added.
Cahigon is one of the eight directly-affected IP barangays of JRMP II. During the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) undertaken by NIA for project construction, the community has requested for the electrification of their barangay. Lines of the electric cooperative were previously up to Brgy. Toyungan (Cahigon’s neighbor) only. Hence, the community has requested for the extension of said lines. The agency channeled the community’s request to the PLGU which in turn brought the concern to the ILECO II.
On November 26, 2015, the community formally accepted the electrification program through symbolic Lights on and Energization Ceremony. Present during the affair were Provincial Legal Officer Dennis Ventilacion representing Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr., Calinog Vice Mayor Rene Hurtada representing Mayor Alex Centena, NIA Supervising Institutional Development Officer
Ms. Ruth Cely M. Jamelo representing Regional Manager Engr. Gerardo Corsiga. Also in attendance was ILECO II Board of Directors led by Board President Dr. Joel Diasnes, General Manager Engr. Jose Redmond Eric Roqiuos, Board Members Jose Rex Pilador, Agnes Coronado, and Remia Sularan, and Calinog District Director Ernel Centena. In behalf of the community, Barangay Captain Alfonso Cabayao and Tribal Chieftain Avelino Caras received the project. /JP (Steve E. Cordero, PRO C)