As part of convergence, Sulong Tribu will implement agriculture and cultural projects in the area. The donor of solar panels, Coffee Bean Tea Leaf, will also support the coffee production of the community through marketing and promotion.
In 2016, StS initially donated four solar cases to Laginan Integrated School which sits on top of a mountain. The school caters to a total of 331 students from kindergarten to Grade 10.
Sulong Tribu project coordinator Celito Terando said “there are other communities that we wanted to model.”
“Nangita gyud mi ug community nga haom, eksakto ang proyekto, and we recommended Sitio Laginan because of their receptivity also to government projects,” Terando said.
Laginan is a remote sitio located in the mountain ranges. The population is comprised of 90% Tagakaolo and the rest is Blaan tribe. Their main livelihood here is farming where corn, coffee, abaca, and vegetables are the major crops.
To reach Laginan, it would take an hour and 30-minute motorcycle ride from the town proper to reach its adjacent sitio Dalamuan, which is about 15 kilometers or approximately 6 to 8 hours trek or, a faster 3 to 4 hours horse ride to finally reach Laginan.
This situation also goes for the students who live far from the Laginan. Most of them walk 3 to 5 hours to reach the school, and as well as going home.
Angelo Tamesa, 19, a Grade 10 student, is eager to study despite of the hardship.
“Magmata mi sa kaadlawon tig alas dos, mangaon mi tig alas tres. Naa mi’y maagihan sapa, diha mi maligo. Human namo ligo mga alas singko, maabot mi diri mga alas nuwebe o alas otso y medya,” Tamesa said. “Gusto gid nako kuhaon nga course kay pagkapulis kay akong ginikanan naga pangandoy gyud to sila nga makapadayon ko ug skwela kay kami ra’y pag-asa nila.”
StS previously installed solar panels in different municipalities of Sarangani: Glan (8 units), Malapatan (5 units), Alabel (6 units), Malungon (15 units), Maasim (3 units), Kiamba (4 units), and Maitum (3 units).
The StS is also known as Foundation for Rural Electrification for Economic Development (FREED) which is a non-profit organization that aims to empower rural and marginalized villages throughout the Philippines by providing access to sustainable solar energy solutions.
“What we would try to do is light up, provide a solar system for the homes of the children so that they could study at night, and at the same time use solar to be able to encourage the parents to support the education of the students such as reduction of malnutrition through vegetable gardening program,” StS executive director Bambi Reyes said.
Aside from empowering education, they also wanted to help and make changes towards communities, health, and emergency response.
The process also includes trainings and meetings in the communities they cater on how to use the solar cases and how to fix them in case of malfunction. After installation, they regularly monitor the areas on how the solar cases affect their lives.
“Pag-abot aning proyekto (2016), dako kayo ang natabang. Number 1 is pag prepare sa mga lesson plan and visual aids, prepared name sa among mga lessons pagka-ugma,” said teacher Albert Rhyen Tapitan of Laginan Integrated School. Tapitan added that it is now easier for them to contact the nearest town in case of emergency because they can charge their phones.
This is why Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon thru Sulong Sarangani Program continues to forge partnership with Stiftung Solarenergie Philippines for possible electrification of the whole rural community. (Donna Mahusay/SARANGANI COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE)