Emerging from the shadows

The strong winds and rains brought about by mega typhoon "Yolanda" have disconnected power lines in many areas in the Visayas, leaving residents going about their daily lives in darkness for several weeks.

But thanks to a project called Liter of Light, about 2,000 solar light bulbs made of plastic bottles in Tacloban and Cebu were installed, giving residents a glimmer of hope in their condition.

Just recently, Kara David of News To Go under GMA Network, interviewed Illac Diaz, executive director of Liter of Light.

Here’s the transcript of the interview, as emailed by GMA Network.
Kara David (Source: Showbiz Portal)

KARA: CONGRATULATIONS FOR ALL THE GOOD THINGS THAT YOU DO FOR OUR COUNTRY

Illac: Sa dami ng bagyo na tumatama, dapat tayo nangunguna sa solusyon at ideas dahil lagi nangyayari. At dapat long term, di lang immediate - pagkain, medicine, tubig - kundi long term.
Swerte dahil ang liter of light, pwede maging massive implementation sa area na nangangailangan ng kuryente.

KARA: YUNG BAGO PA LANG ITONG LITER OF LIGHT PARANG MAY MINERAL WATER TAPOS MAY TUBIG TAPOS ILALAGAY SIYA SA TUBE PERO NGAYON PARANG BINAGO NIYO NA MERON NG DAGDAG NA SOLAR PANELS. TAMA BA?

Illac: Nagsimula sya sa complete solution pero mahirap i-explain ang isang bote ng tubig, magrerefract yung ilaw at maiilawan ang bahay. Makakatipid ka ng kuryente, ng mga P400. With P550-P600, makaka-install ka ng 1 watt solar light.
That is the concept of solar, tipid ka muna sa kuryente then bumili ka na sa natipid mo. Dati kung hindi mo binili ang produktong ito, hindi ko ibibigay sayo.
Yung second sa solar na di alam ng tao, nasisira yan. Nagpunta kami Mindanao, isang malaking tambak ng solar mobile charger and light. Every 3 years, nasisira at tinatapon nila. Walang spare parts kasi patented. Sayang, so sabi namin why not build solar sa grass roots para di lang kikita ang Pilipinas, magkakatrabaho pa.
What’s important pag nasira ay pumunta sa local electronic shop at bumili ng replacement parts.

Illac Diaz. (Source: Scandasia.com)
KARA: MAY EQUITY ANG MGA TAO SO MAS MAY PUSO SILA SA PROYEKTO DAHIL SILA MISMO ANG GUMAWA.

Illac: It’s revolutionary. The Philippines; hindi lang siya tumatanggap ng solusyon pero sila pa ang nagbibigay ng solusyon. Kung one source of power ka lang, power plant, we need to start looking for a more diversified solution. Sa Leyte at Samar, 300 million dollars na donations para sa solar. 3 years afterwards na kailangan natin, sira lahat. $300 million dollars, sira lahat. Di ba Philippines ang nag-imbento ng sachet? So ito, parang sachet solar energy. You have a bottle, insert the battery. But you also have mobile charger. We teach sa Tesda on how to do mobile charge. Maganda dun ay street lighting system. Magdadala ka lang ng part to enact the movement.

KARA: GAANO KAMAHAL ANG ISANG UNIT?

Illac: It costs P600 kasi wala kaming volume pero it will last 3 and half years. You just have to change the batteries. One light bulb that will turn on automatically pag evening, or you can use a switch.

KARA: HINDI TOTOO YUNG SINASABI NA MAHAL ANG SOLAR?

Illac:  Mahal ang solar kasi nagdedepend tayo sa ibang bansa. So may customs yan. With Habitat and Gawad Kalinga, we learned. Why not create a Gawad Kalinga for energy. We invest in local skills.

Today we are one of the largest NGOs that go there. We installed 2,000 solar lights na weather street lights with the help of US Embassy. We just bring the parts, everything is built in the area and they will be maintained. In the future, why not look for green solutions or create a green economy.

KARA:  NAGPUNTA KA SA LEYTE AT NAKASAMA MO SI US SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY?

Illac: He was looking at several NGOs. There are many NGOs that are there in every disaster. But what makes Tacloban different? The people of Tacloban are working to have a global solution. The interesting thing there is we were already training people in Tacloban before the disaster. Because it was so viral, you can teach people and create an army for the production line.

KARA: IN LEYTE, DITO SA MGA NASALANTA NG BAGYONG YOLANDA. GIVE US AN OVERVIEW GAANO KARAMI ANG BALAK NINYONG ILAWAN AT ILAN NA ANG INILAWAN NINYO?

Illac: Yung maganda sa solusyon namin, social enterprise. It will keep on growing as long as it is needed by the community.
2,000 na nagawa naming sa Cebu at Tacloban.
With John Kerry, we are attracting investments.
Don’t just donate for consumption. The rebuilding starts with survival, that has to have light.
We need to start something that has a long term effect. The investment we do in TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) will allow us to expand; we can use them as the production center. Hopefully we can get involved sa bunkhouses na ginagawa. Hopefully we can talk to DPWH, we can light up all the walkways, bunkhouses. It is not the brightest one. You don’t need big when you have nothing at all. One is enough.

KARA: MAY MOBILE CHARGERS SO YOU CAN CHARGE YOUR CELLPHONES.

Illac: Pati fisherman, they can develop. This is a spark that can be developed to many many things. When everything is destroyed, this is a light that can be garnered from the sun. That is one of the many solutions. When John Kerry saw this, he really pulled us aside. The message is we are not only recipients but we can be benefactors of knowledge in areas being hit, using community in the livelihood program to be able to light up and build business, to be able to light up the Tacloban areas.

KARA: P600 YOU CAN CHANGE A FAMILY’S LIFE…

Illac: P2,500 to have a street light, mobile charges P1,100 but 30% of that goes to the community. The problem is Customs, they don’t support donations for green technologies. Maybe we can work with DSWD (Department of Social Welfare Development). We can minus P300 pag wala nang tax.

KARA: IF PEOPLE HAVE MONEY TO SPARE IF THEY WANT TO DONATE SAAN SILA PWEDENG LUMAPIT?

Illac: If you can talk to electrical engineering schools, if they can volunteer students to build it.

KARA: HOW DO THEY GET IN TOUCH?

Illac: www.aliteroflight.org or info@literoflight.org or 09189403513. Rebuilding starts with a simple of hope. A light may look simple but people can gather around this because hope is what they need right now. Green technologies, it’s the right time we start using it. No power plant, we suffer in darkness, that shouldn’t be the case anymore.

News to Go airs Mondays to Fridays at 9 a.m. on GMA News TV Channel 11.


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