The Clark Freeport will now be the home of the “Solar Lolas” – or solar engineers among women of the indigenous Aeta community.
This, after the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and the Diwata-Women in Resource Development Inc. (DIWATA) recently signed an agreement for the use of the BCDA Group Women’s Center facility inside the Freeport to train more “Solar Lolas”.
Signing the agreement were BCDA Chairperson Ma. Aurora D. Geotina-Garcia, CDC Chairperson Eliseo B. Santiago and Tanging Tanglaw Steering Committee Annie Dee in a simple ceremony held at Clark Freeport Zone.
According to Garcia, the assistance provided to DIWATA is part of BCDA’s and CDC’s Gender and Development (GAD) community relations program and corporate social responsibility.
“Our vision is to provide assistance not only for community development and support to basic services for one of our major stakeholders—the Aeta community, but more importantly to empower its women,” Garcia emphasized.
Clark Development Corporation Officer in Charge and President Eliseo Santiago praised women and their role of nurturing, saying that he envisions that this project be replicated all over the country.
On the other hand, the National Commission on Indigenous People Regional Director Salong Sunggod said that he appreciates the fact that indigenous members of society are empowered by the Tanging Tanglaw project to become part of the country’s development.
As a response, Ambassador Delia Albert, first woman secretary of foreign affairs in Asia and known women’s advocate, thanked BCDA and CDC and challenged everyone present during the event.
“As this project brings joy and hope to our beneficiaries let us remember that this project is international in nature as India is watching its progress in our country. We cannot fail,” she said, expressing support for its replication all over the country.
Under the agreement, BCDA and CDC will provide DIWATA a training room and storage facility at the BCDA Group Women’s Center in the Clark Freeport Zone for its “Tanging Tanglaw” Project. The project involves training indigenous people (IP) grandmothers and mature women who are no longer the primary care givers of their families into solar engineers.
On the other hand, DIWATA will operate, manage and supervise the maintenance of the BCDA Group Women’s Center and Storage Facility in coordination with the BCDA and CDC.
For his part, BCDA President and CEO Arnel Paciano D. Casanova said the “Tanging Tanglaw” Project will be part of BCDA’s and CDC’s yearly GAD Plan and Budget to ensure the continuity of the project.
The “Tanging Tanglaw” Project was conceptualized from the experience of four Aeta women referred to as “Solar Lolas” who trained in India’s Barefoot College for six months on fabricating, installing, repairing and maintaining solar lighting equipment. Each pair of “Solar Lolas” are now responsible for solar electrifying 100 households and for repairing and maintaining the equipment for a minimum of five years.
Once the communities are solar-electrified, the quality of life of the IPs is expected to be more productive as they will be able to use appliances and gadgets. Children, on the other hand, will be able to study at night and possibly use computers and access the internet to increase their knowledge and awareness.