When Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) ravaged the island of Bantayan on November 2013, the family of Mc Jemart Martinez was among the most affected residents on the island.
While all members of his family were spared from the wrath of the tropical cyclone, they were left homeless after winds of 235 kph knocked out trees, infrastructure and power on the island.
The Martinez’s have since started to rebuild their house but the trauma of seeing their home ravaged by the typhoon has remained in the mind of Jemart, now an 18-year-old, Grade 12 student of the Bantayan National High School.
The experience has motivated him to dream of someday building disaster-resilient homes to help make the quality of life of his fellow Bantayanons better.
When a team from Vivant Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Vivant Corporation, arrived in Bantayan Island last Friday (January 26), Jemart was hopeful that he was finally getting closer to his dream.
The foundation turned over P800,000 worth of tools and equipment to his school to help improve the quality of its Electrical Installation and Maintenance (EIM) course which had long suffered from a lack of learning tools.
“Babag kaayo sya namo kay inig demonstrate, di namo masabtan og tarong kay kulang mi sa gamit,” he told Cebu Daily News.
(It is difficult to understand the lessons because we lacked tools during demonstrations in class.)
Among other things, the foundation donated pliers, screw delivers, hand saws, hard hats and ladders to help the school and its instructors teach the course better.
Jemart will be one of 51 Senior High School students who are expected to benefit from these tools.
Senior High School teacher John Ray Tapales said that now that they have the tools and equipment necessary for the EIM course, they hope that more students would be interested to enroll in the class.
Out of 1,050 Senior High School students in Bantayan National High School, only 15 from Grade 11 and 36 from Grade 12 took up EIM this academic year.
Tapales said that the lack of teaching materials was partly the reason why the school’s EIM course had the least number of students.
“There is a significant decrease in the number of EIM students every year. I am hoping that next school year, many of them will be interested to enroll in this course,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vivant Foundation has found an opportunity to partner with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in creating a new curriculum under the EIM course: solar photovoltaic (PV).
Sylvio Sabino, DepEd-7 education program supervisor, said that they are currently crafting the curriculum guide which will then be submitted to the DepEd Central Office in Manila.
“This is the first of its kind, not only in the region, but the nation as well. Solar installation is not offered by DepEd in our current curriculum,” explained Sabino adding that the solar component will be integrated into the EIM course.
Vivant Foundation executive director Shem Garcia said that they will provide training to Bantayan’s EIM instructors to prepare them for the implementation of the new curriculum which will start next school year.
“This is the first time in my life where I am actually excited about what I do. It is definitely rewarding to feel that we are really making an impact,” Garcia said.
Based on research conducted in 2014, Garcia said they found out that Senior High School students were the ones needing the most help in carrying out the curriculum under DepEd’s K to 12 program.
With solar energy gaining support as an alternative power source, Garcia said teaching these children the skill to install and maintain solar panels will be “self sustaining” and will “create jobs.”
By March 2018, 160 solar panels capable of generating 50 kilowatts will be installed on the rooftops of Hilotongan Integrated School, located on Hilotongan islet in Bantayan Island.
At least 1,196 students of Hilotongan Integrated School will benefit from the solar electrification project as the islet has no power supply.
“The solar panels can help compensate or add power supply. This is good especially that there are people (within the island) who will be assigned to maintain the panels,” said Raji Roullo, planning and designing engineer of Vivant Corporation.
The teachers and students of Bantayan National High School, who will be trained to install and maintain the solar panels will be tapped to help in the project.
According to Garcia, the solar electrification project in the off-grid school will be supported by ET Energy and is projected to cost at least P3.3 million.
Garcia said that aside from Hilotongan, Vivant plans to expand the electrification program to other off-grid communities in Bantayan Island.
“We make sure that our projects in the community are sustainable investments,” said Garcia.
By Jessa Mae O. Sotto