Launching of Philippine National Renewable Energy Program

Have you ever entered class only to find yourself in complete shock to hear your teacher announce that you’re just about to take one of the biggest exams of the semester? You look around in class and everyone around you seemed to have known about the exam, but you on the other hand, are in astoundment, asking yourself, “Why didn’t I get the memo?” 


I had one of those moments today, except I wasn’t in class, and it wasn’t a test. I was at a pet store store with my siblings choosing fish for our house-pond when it dawned on me that I had missed an event that would have been (or so it seemed) one of the most historical moments of my life. Okay, well maybe I’m being just a tad bit dramatic, I could probably settle for, one of the biggest moments of my year, (and also one of the top moments for my country too).  


Over a month ago, I received an invitation from the Philippine Department of Energy Secretariat to attend the grand launch of the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) that honored Philippine President Benigno Aqunio III, to be held at the Makati Shangrila Hotel this morning. The invite had been sent to me twice, and the confirmation email of my attendance, sent to me over two weeks ago (as seen in picture below). The attire for the event was the native formal wear, a barong tagalog for men, and a filipiniana for women. Like every girl when it comes to “big” events, I already had an attire in mind– A filipiniana I’ve only had the chance to wear once, designed by Philippine fashion designer,Oliver Tolentino.  

               Confirmation letter of Dept. of Energy Renewable Energy launch


As a sustainable solution junkie (call it, if I may), missing this event was a total tragedy for me. For those of you who do not understand why, I’d compare it to missing a first date with someone who’d you’d think would be a potential “love of your life,” or for a die hard soccer fan, missing the FIFA finals, which only happens every four years. The invite itself was a big deal for me. Having been told by my elders to “stop my passion,” by passion meaning my environmental advocacy, I had discontinued contact with most of my colleagues in the environment field over the past few months. It was encouraging to know that even despite my absence, there were people who still recognized my climate work in the Philippines, a government agency, to say the least. 


In the next two weeks, I will start my studies at Yale Summer School studying an engineering course on Green Energy” & a Physics course on Energy, Technology and Society.” The NREP event would have been a great pedestal in providing me with the appropriate knowledge on the developments of renewable energy (RE) technology in newly industrialized countries, like my own. With members of the diplomatic corps, legislators and policy-makers, non-government organizations, RE developers, energy sector stakeholders, community leaders and members of the research and scientific communities in attendance, it would have also been a great opportunity to rub elbows with the “Who’s who” of renewable technology in my country. This also meant that the Republic Act 9513 “Renewable Energy Act of 2008,” of which my previous boss, Senator Legarda, was a co-author of, was being implemented. I recall campaigning for this legislation during the Philippine elections of 2010, the promulgation of the RA 9513 through the NREP was most definitely overwhelming.

Realizing my stupidity, I came home from the pet store, with fish in oxygenated plastic bag in my hand, and immediately googled the event. To those of us who missed the event, at least we get somewhat of a preview in this video:

My favorite part of the video was when children came up on stage to congratulate the President on the NREP initiative. 

As mentioned in the Presidential Broadcast, in President Aquino’s speech, he stated that through NREP, the Philippines is headed to achieving long-term and sustainable energy resources thus, it will be free from the instabilities of the global oil market. Moreover, the program will enable remote provinces and poorest municipalities to be an electricity-powered community through renewable energy (RE) sources. The President said that the government is pursuing to triple the renewable energy-based capacity of the country from 5,400 megawatts (MW) in 2010 to 15,300 MW in 2030. The administration’s primary objective is to provide cleaner and greener environment for the future while ensuring reasonable RE power prices to Filipino consumers.

“Carbon dependence has eroded our economic power, destroyed our moral authority, diminished our international influence and prestige, endangered our national security, and damaged our health and landscapes. It is subverting everything we value.” Robert Kennedy Jr., environmentalist and America’s most prominent advocates for clean-energy, had written in his ‘08 manifesto on The Next President’s First TaskRobert Kennedy’s statement is as important and applicable in developing nations as it is in industrialized countries like the US. Even with the ongoing economic turmoil, developing countries still thrive to emulate economic models of developed nations. The Philippine National Renewable Energy Program recognizes the importance of becoming energy self-sufficient. 


           Geothermal power plant in Valencia, Negros OrientalPhilippines 

As a matter of fact, the Philippines is already a leader in renewable energy. Worldwide, the Philippines ranks second to the United States in producing geothermic energy. Geothermal Power Plants on the islands of Luzon, Negros, Mindanao and Leyte, provides  27% of the country’s total electricity production. In 2000, during the World Geothermal Congress 2000 in Japan, it was reported that the Philippines is the largest consumer of electricity from geothermal sources and highlighted the potential role of geothermal energy in providing energy needs for developing countries. Due to the tropical climate and the geological circumstances of the Philippines, there are several other possibilities in getting cheap and clean energy. Solar energy is cheap and inexhaustible and there is an enormous mass of natural gasfound in Palawan.

Electricity is something that many of us take for granted, but for some people in my country and other developing countries, it remains a luxury, if not an unfulfilled dream. As my country envisions, I look forward to the day when children in the fifth-class municipalities in Lanao del Norte,Bukidnon, Kalinga, and Antique, will soon be able to send their children to schools powered by renewable energy.

                                     More info in this prototype on this link 

Five years ago, I designed this prototype in my Modelmaking class. The design is of a bahay kubo by the ocean, powered by solar power and wind energy. I hope that all bahay kubo’s will be powered by our earth’s natural resources, someday. I take pride in being from a country, wherein despite our limited resources, we aim for technology that pursuits sustainable initiatives and development and are mindful of the future generations to come. 


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