Reaching Out

Reaching Out

An account of how Greenpeace Philippines reached out to the people believing in their cause

Science, Environment
May 23rd, 2014 · 5 min read
Reaching Out

Yesterday, I received a call from a representative of Greenpeace Philippines. Her name is Andy and she introduced with confirming an online petition I signed up 2 months ago: No to Coal Mining in the Philippines.

I vaguely remembered it, not because of me regarding it as not important, I just have a bad memory. And it is important.

She then went to bring up the topic about renewable energy and their campaign to get their voice out to our government, and stop the construction of new power plants. She mainly highlighted a big power plant soon to be constructed at Zamboanga City.

First off, I am very familiar with this topic. I opened up my early plans to move on to harnessing solar energy and how I did my research in the past. I also discussed with her how I find the implementation of this technology here in the Philippines far too difficult compared to the first-world countries.

A dream for a bright future.

I was imagining our house before all paneled up (wow, I just coined a new term) and looking hot. (Okay, enough puns for now.) But seriously, it was a dream. I then searched how much photovoltaic cells costs and how to install them. You just need basic carpentry skills and you can install it yourself. However, getting your hands on the actual solar panels pushed me back a bit. It was a great dream, though. Unfortunately, it was impractical at that time. I wished this technology would be put to practical use in the near future. Like how Bill Gates dreamt about putting computers on every home, forever changing the future of computing. I wish we can all have solar panels on our homes.

Think globally, start locally

A few hours later after that call, I was browsing my old files. (My 6-year old machine just died on me and I decided to scan and organize my old files. More on that story will be posted later.) Then, I don’t know why but I spotted an old document I wrote when I was in 4th year college for our Technical Writing subject. The paper is titled “Solar Energy as an Alternative Source of Electricity”, which is a proposal for our university to use solar energy as an alternative source of electricity to power its buildings to save impratical electricity bills (their bill goes up to around 1 million Pesos per month on the date of writing) causing the consistently tuition fee increase, and also to give the environment a small favor. It is dated October 4, 2010 (almost 4 years ago). I uploaded the paper and I recommend you to read the full document here.

Here are some excerpts from my proposal:

“With the current industry, power generation depends on the world’s natural resources. According to ecologist Joe Bidden, if we continue using these resources for the next decades, it will greatly affect the ecosystem, which might trigger a great transition on our climate, hence, the climate change. Not only does the problem fall into the resources, but also the by-products. The emissions of most machines our world uses today have negative effects on the environment. Greenhouse gases are the main cause of global warming and these machines emit large amounts of heat and are not environmental-friendly. Not to mention the large power generating industry itself, which produces not only extensive amount of heat, but also noise and waste.”

“Solar energy is a type of energy which is acquired from the sun. The most commonly used medium to acquire this energy is by the use of solar panels. Solar panels have two different types: thermal and photovoltaic. Thermal panels are mainly used for heating purposes; e.g. heating water on cold weather. On the other hand, photovoltaic panels are used to convert the sun’s light rays to electricity. In the Philippines, a square meter of the earth surface can harness 3.5 to 5.2 kWh.”

“Photovoltaic technology is a type of renewable energy that is always available and free. Its usage can be of great value, it just needs implementation for us to see its importance and its help not only to us but also to the environment and to our world in general.”

It was a mix of surprise and disappointment. I was surprised that I was this eager with supporting renewable energy back then. Then, I am (and still) disappointed – both to myself and the current situation. To myself, because I was strongly supportive of the cause and now I look myself in the mirror and I think all these years turned me into something that cared less. Maybe, I am supportive only by thought. But I am helpless. I couldn’t do anything. That’s also one of the reasons why I’m sharing this story. It’s the least I could do.

Which goes to why I am disappointed with the current situation — that after 4 years, renewable energy is still not a big thing on this country. I am pissed at how most of my countrymen knew more about Kris Aquino’s love life than renewable energy. I am pissed that the definition of a normal Filipino life is a livestock lead by corruption, and feeding off bad tv entertainment, monopolized by toxic consumerism. I am strongly appalled that we and the future Filipinos are shaped to fit in this type of society, mindless about the most important issues.

Going back to the phone call, we continued discussing about the current state of renewable energy in the Philippines. I am quite relieved to be informed that we are progressing, however slow it is. She told me about the current renewable energy projects here in the Philippines. Our country is fully capable of sustaining itself by using solar energy, wind energy (the famous windmills of Northern Luzon, around Ilocos region), geothermal energy, and more. You can find all existing and ongoing projects on the Greenpeace Philippines website – www.greenpeace.org.ph. She strongly suggested that we are still not getting enough support from the government for these projects. Maybe that is one of the reasons why she’s calling, to get to us to get to our goverment. With that in note, this blog post also serves as an open letter to our leaders, especially those from Department of Energy, to hear us and support this cause.

I also shared to her about the recently announced new Philippine territory around northern east part of our map. And how that new territory can be harnessed for energy. University of the Philippines (can’t remember which department) already sent a team to explore the area. I forgot the name of the area so I wasn’t able to tell her. (I told you I have bad memory.) But she haven’t heard of it before and told me she’ll research about it. UPDATE: I remember it now, the Benham Rise Visit Website. I messaged her the name.

The phone call yesterday, May 22, was timely as Rappler reported that May 21 and 22 are the hottest days in the Philippines this year – going up to 37 degrees Celsius. We can ignore all we want but there’s no stopping nature from warning us.

I don’t usually believe in fate. But when I decided to take that call when I mostly ignore calls from unknown numbers, and that I randomly stumbled upon that paper I wrote four years ago, gave me intuition that something’s up.

If you are still reading up to this point. I thank you. All I’m asking is for you to be informed. That, by far, is the most important thing you could do for our country. Be informed, and the rest will follow.


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