By NEWSFEED 360 TEAM
They used to content themselves with interacting with lowlanders only for trade and other necessities. Today, the residents of Bgy. Pawa in Nabas, Aklan can’t wait for the borders to reopen so they could welcome visitors to their community.
Attention eco-lovers, travelers and Insta enthusiasts! There is a line of white wind turbines lined up like sentries over the world-famous Boracay beach and it’s a breathtaking sight to behold. The said turbines are courtesy of the Nabas Wind Power Project of PetroWind Energy, Inc. (PWEI)— a good neighbor to all 93 household residents of Barangay Pawa located 300 meters away from the last turbine.
Before the wind turbines were installed, Bgy. Pawa was an isolated village struggling with a host of problems. Delivery of government and medical services was scarce because of the sheer difficulty in traversing the five-kilometer steep and narrow dirt road that connects the barangay to the lowlands. The residents had to live without water and electricity. The place was so remote from any economic and social activity that insurgents found it an ideal hideout.
The residents were living in such quarantine-like conditions when PetroWind Energy Inc. (PWEI) arrived at the community in 2013 in preparation for the construction of the wind power project. The team brought with them a systematic process of enhancing, enriching, and empowering the community through its corporate social responsibility program. Through the succeeding years, the program helped enrich the community’s natural and human resources, train community members for capacity building, and empower the community by developing sustainable opportunities. Today, it continues to focus on health, education, and livelihood projects implemented through community profiling, social preparation, initiative development and regular evaluation.
PWEI’s community intervention led to the creation of the Pawa Agri-Ecotourism and Livelihood Development Association (PAELDA) in 2014, with members composed mostly of women. PAELDA was envisioned to be the conduit and main driver of change and development in the community. One of its first projects was road rehabilitation, paving the way for the improvement of access to basic services and more economic activities.
“Malaking pasasalamat namin sa PetroWind dahil sa pagbabago na dala nila tulad ng maayos na daan na malaking tulong sa pag-transport ng mga produkto namin (We are thankful to PetroWind for the big change that they brought here like the paved road, which helped us a lot in transporting our goods),” says PAELDA Chairman and Barangay Councilor James Balyguat.
PWEI also developed the community’s water system, which now enables residents to grow their own food source from their backyards and enjoy potable water for household needs. PWEI likewise coordinated with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to provide Brgy. Pawa with electricity by 2017.
Today, every house and street is well lit, allowing the residents to enjoy the full benefits and comfort of having electricity in their homes. Families are now able to watch TV and have occasional videoke sessions, while students have the luxury of using computers for schoolwork. At present, there is already a WiFi internet service initiated by one entrepreneurial resident. Through a vendo machine, one can enjoy 59 minutes of Internet access for only PhP5.
Bgy. Pawa’s bariw weaving tradition is alive and has the potential of becoming a sustainable income generating livelihood, with the new generation eagerly learning the indigenous Nabasnon skill from their parents and grandparents. Copra (dried coconut meat) is also a main source of income that had been revitalized by the development.
The pandemic may have restricted movement to the lowlands, but the barangay residents still manage to distribute their end products to lowland markets through the coordination between PAELDA and PWEI.
“We are confident that Bgy. Pawa can sustain its growth as a community given the wealth of potential that this location has in terms of eco-tourism, livelihood, and further employment when Nabas 2 starts construction,” says Yrel Ventura, CSR and Environment Manager of PetroGreen Energy Corp.
Even as quarantine protocols are still in place, Bgy. Pawa residents have been bracing for the reopening of borders. They are excited to welcome tourists to their humble community for the first time. The hardworking neighbors want their visitors to experience for themselves the energy that progress has brought to their once timid community. A modern view deck now stands to give guests a majestic view of rich foliage and nearby Boracay.
The Nabas Wind Farm is in its first phase with 36MW capacity, providing clean and renewable energy to the Visayas grid. It started its commercial operations in June 2015. It is owned and operated by PWEI, which is a joint venture of the Yuchengco Group of Companies members PetroGreen Energy Corporation (PGEC) and EEI Power Corporation (EEI Power), along with Thailand’s BCPG Public Company Ltd.
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