One liter of light at a time.
Growing up in Rizal province, I’ve heard legends about the town of Rodriguez, formerly Montalban, which is said to be a Spanish contraction of the words, “Monte Alba” or “white mountain.” These tales were about Bernardo Carpio and the town’s limestone mountains. One of the well-known versions of the town’s folklore, Bernardo’s a giant trapped between two mountains, Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Binacayan, which he’d push apart to escape. In effect, a gorge was formed where the river now flows through. This site today is called Wawa Dam, a famous tourist spot, and jump off point for the trilogy mountains of Rodriguez.
Life on the Far Side
On Friday, January 11th, I was set to go beyond the dam and go further into the Marikina Watershed Reservation. Roughly 20-30 minutes boat ride from Sitio Wawa to a site locals call ”palakpak.” Then an hour and forty-five minutes walk along the river banks. With occasional two to three feet deep of river water to cross, welcome to Sitio Anipa. A portion of Sierra Madre mountains where the Remontado-Dumagat tribe dwells.
Though, I didn’t see Bernardo Carpio or any giant, instead, a massive energy gap in Anipa.
In this day and age, they still don’t have access to electricity or power of any kind. Given that they live in a protected area and such construction is prohibited, there are alternatives. Perhaps even more sustainable than connecting from a power plant.
Life on the Lighter Side
The gift of light could actually come in small packages. Simple solar circuit light fixtures could bridge the energy gap in Anipa. These lights were the reason why the Liter of Light team together with volunteer employees of Cummins Philippines and a couple more volunteers like me with the assistance of LGU and Tribe Chieftain braved the far side. From house lights to street lamps to repurposed kerosene lamps, all for the locals’ convenience. And it’s not only the light fixtures itself that were gifted but the knowledge on how to assemble, maintain and troubleshoot their new found light.
From now on, stories about Rodriguez would include the gift of light. As for my first volunteering experience, it’s all worthwhile. Seeing the locals’ faces lit up made every minute under the scorching sun worth it. Their smiles were priceless. A moment that I’ll forever cherish.