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.
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”There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton | Mirrored for a day and to more days! 🤞🏽 #literoflight #volunteer . . . “Sa sobrang layo ng Sitio Anipan, di namin akalain na may magbibigay sa amin.” (Sitio Anipan is so far, we can’t believe that we’ll get donations). It takes 30 minutes banca ride from Wawa Dam, two hours walk and two rivers to cross to get to the village. The Remontado Dumagat tribe of Wawa Rizal lived in darkness and seclusion for centuries and at last, a hundred lights lit a hundred homes! Thank you @cummins Philippines for the gift of light. All these won’t be possible without the assistance of @adecphilippines @adec.innovations Photo by @generosepomelo
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.
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I’ve been to some remote and depressed areas but locals never fail to showcase their purest selves by offering us whatever they have. Letting us in and providing us with food that may actually be for their next meal. And due to the remoteness of the place, natives rely heavily on crops as their main food source. Like in Sitio Anipa, a hut with 2 families living offered us a couple of plantain clusters for us to snack on while installing solar lights. It’s their way of thanking us for visiting and or helping them. This gesture is common almost everywhere in the Philippines, it’s never warranted but given freely. #literoflight #volunteer | P.S. A trick I learned while in Balabalasang was to peel the plantain from the bottom!
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.