Geothermal project scholars help IPs become change agents
Aware of the tremendous benefits of development not only to host communities but to the whole country, indigenous peoples on eight ancestral domains affected by the on-going geothermal exploration in Pasil town in Kalinga consented for it to proceed.
And now, they are starting to feel its effect even as the project is yet to go full-blown.
Scholars of the Kalinga Geothermal Project who are now professionals, have become change agents helping their fellow IPs embrace the paradigm shift from an enclave of hostile sub-tribes to development partners.
The project, now in its drilling exploration until September this year, is waiting to be commercially developed based on project plan. The on-going exploration was certified by the Department of Energy (DOE) last year as a “project of national significance.”
Preparing the locals for homegrown project management
The DOE) in 2008 had signed with the Aragorn Power and Energy Corporation (APEC) and Guidance Management Corp.(GMC) the geothermal service contract allowing the local firms to explore for geothermal energy in a 26,250-hectare area in the municipalities of Pasil, Tinglayan, and Lubuagan.
Granting of scholarship awards to qualified students in the eight ancestral domains that gave their consent to the geothermal project exploration was one of the provisions in the Memorandum of Agreement between the developer and host communities as a result of the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) consultation conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) provincial office.
The scholarship program aims to provide opportunities for higher education to academically deserving youths from the ancestral domains of Balatoc, Bangad, Dalupa-Ableg, Dangtalan, Guina-ang, Tinglayan, Tulgao-Colayo, and Uma, that constitute the Kalinga Geothermal project area. This in the long run, will prepare the locals for homegrown project management.
The program prioritize scientific and technical courses that align with the future manpower requirements of the Kalinga geothermal project.
Partners of the geothermal consortium, the APEC ,GMC, and the Allfirst Kalinga Holdings Inc. spent about P36 million for the education of 351 IP grantees from school year 2010 – 2018.
To date, there are 221 graduates that include five licensed geologists, one lawyer, 10 engineers, 12 teachers, four social workers, one nurse, one policeman, and one deacon, who are now gainfully employed.
A new batch of 130 scholars for school year 2018-2019 and their parents were oriented on the implementing guidelines of the scholarship program
NCIP lawyer Catherine Apaling told grantees to comply with the requirements of the scholarship program particularly the no failure provision in order to enjoy the privilege until graduation from college.
Inspiring others to become agents of change
Five geologists from Balatoc and Colayo presented their testimonies to challenge and inspire other scholars to hurdle the challenges and strive to finish their choice course in college.
Geologists Jeremiah Caido, Al Maiyao, Jestee Ruth Dona-al, Jelson Edduba, and Raymanne Emmanuel Mabazza have successfully passed the board exam and are employed with the Mines and Geoscience Bureau. Engr. Clarisa Wanawan, also of first batch, is working with the geothermal project.
In their testimonies, they admitted it is not easy to be a scholar because of the requirements to comply.
“Despite experiencing hardship in college, we are grateful for this opportunity and privilege to earn a college degree. We should have been there entering the ground to mine gold, engage in manual hauling for a pay and never mind school. “Thanks for the scholarship program, they are throdding a different path for a brighter future, they all expressed.
They vowed to help in IEC on the benefits of multi-national projects aimed to change the attitude of IPs of opposing without valid reason, which put them on the losing end. Others are hampering the implementation of projects for illegal claims, which they said must stop.
“With hundreds of us to graduate under this scholarship program during the duration of this project and successfully becoming professionals, working for common goals, life in Pasil and Tinglayan will undoubtedly become better,” they added.
Strengthening partnership for exciting future
“We seek partnership with you through the right method so that this project in the future can be managed by the locals,” Eugene Sunio, Kalinga Geothermal project manager, told scholars and their parents during the orientation.
Ed Sevilla, consultant of Allfirst Kalinga Holdings Inc. told scholars not to forget their roots. “Don’t forget where you came from because your root is a launching pad of a bright future,” he said.
Pasil Councilor Daniel Basing-at also expressed gratitude to the program saying it is a great help to parents in the covered ancestral domains considering the high cost of education today.
Natividad Sugguiyao, former provincial head of NCIP and whose time the scholarship program was pushed during the FPIC process, urged communities and scholars to maintain an active role in the exploration and exploitation of natural resources abundant in the area.
“A lot of things are to happen. After 5 to 10 years, we see our very own graduates manage the development and utilization of our natural resources; projects will go unhampered if host communities are educated; and with this educational assistance, parents carry part of the burden in educating their children,” she said.
Vice Governor James Edduba, the municipal mayor of Pasil when the project started, sees an exciting future for his municipality and the entire province. If Pasil and Balbalan venture on developing its mineral and energy resources, other municipalities can also excel in agriculture and other industries.
He went on to say that in the last 10 years, Kalinga was peaceful. Though if there were any peace disturbances were immediately resolved since the advocacy on “no to tribal war” has gained ground, he said.
“Because of this momentum, we see a future where investors come in and progress flow because of stabilized peaceful environment leading to the creation of a growth center in Eastern Kalinga comprising of Tanudan, Rizal, Pinukpuk and this city having a comparative advantage with economic zones. With education and employment opportunities, our children will not go abroad since in the future, they will be gainfully employed at home, he said. **JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga