Ana Fe Bayogbog, 37, and a mother of two, earns a living by selling beauty and wellness products. She has been doubling her efforts to feed her family after she became a single parent barely a year ago. Her husband, Simeon, was mercilessly gunned down by still unidentified people, and Ana believes that the murder of her husband is linked to the latter’s aspiration to secure the tenure of the more than 300 residents of their community who have been promised relocation after they were driven away from their previous settlements — in flood prone areas in Rizal. “Pinangakuan kami na ililipat kami sa pabahay na gagawin pero hindi kami inilipat. Sad to say, napabayaan kami,” she said.
Ana says her husband did not die in vain, though. Today, their neighborhood, the “Kasiglahan Creekside Association” or KACSA, is accredited by the local government and is recognised as a legitimate neighborhood community. Finally, being KACSA’s president, Ana has only one more problem left to solve: electricity.
For four years, KACSA did not have access to electricity due to legal and financial challenges. For a time, they fell victim to the abuse of residents in nearby communities which allowed them to tap into their power supply and collected fees which were way higher than the kilowatt-hour price offered by Meralco. Learning about the plight of the residents of KACSA, Meralco and the Foundation stepped in in 2014 and determined the possibility of energizing the community through the household electrification program.
Also known as Relocatees and Informal Settlers Electrification or RAISE, the program was designed to encourage informal settlers and relocatees to gain legal and safe access to Meralcoís power distribution grid. The Foundation provides assistance especially in the initial requirements for electrification.
“Pagdating talaga ng Meralco sa aming lugar, sobrang saya namin dahil sa wakas, magkakaroon na ng solusyon ang aming problema. Malaking tulong ito lalo naít marami sa amin maliliit lang ang hanap-buhay,” Ana explained.
The community leader said, among other things, the high rate of crime was one of the biggest problems she faced.
“Sobrang hirap talaga noon kasi medyo madilim kaya mataas ang crime rate dito sa lugar namin at yung ilang mga kabataan nakakagawa ng mga kalokohan dahil walang ilaw,” recalled Ana.
KACSA celebrated their electrification with a simple yet meaningful community launch in November 2014. Officers from the partner organizations and the local government unit graced the lighting up ceremony.
“Malaki na ang ipinagbago ng aming lugar mula nang magkaroon kami ng kuryente. Unang una, kung dati madalim ang aming mga kalye, ngayon ay sobrang liwanag na. Nagkaroon kasi kami ng kasunduan na lahat ng mga bahay sa tabi ng kalye ay maglalagay ng ilaw sa labas para magsilbi na ring street light. Kaya nabawasan ang insidente ng krimen at ilegal na droga dito sa amin,” observed Ana. “Mas mura na rin ang binabayaran namin na kuryente. Dati ang binabayaran ko ay P1,500 bawat buwan, ngayong sa Meralco na talaga diretsong nanggagaling ang aming kuryente ang binabayaran ko na lang ay nasa P400-P500,” she added. “Sobrang mahalaga ang kuryente sa panahon natin ngayon dahil katulad dito sa amin, naging malaki ang papel ng kuryente upang mas maging ligtas ang pamumuhay namin dito. Ikalawa, ‘yung mga batang mag-aaral namin dito ay nakakapagaral na rin sa gabi dahil may ilaw na sa mga kani-kanilang bahay.”
Through the RAISE program, the Foundation energized 5,300 households in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Quezon. The household electrification program also energised 257 households in the MVP Village for Typhoon Pablo victims in Davao Oriental.