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Tap Bicol’s vast energy potentials

Sadly, potentials and assets for growth remain untapped in the Bicol region. Worse, they are abused and ravaged no end.

This aberrant is large-scale in the rest of the country and parts of the world. Sadly, errant policy decision-making and political leadership is behind this revolting reality. How we wish, in these critical times and socio-political divide, a paradigm shift toward people-centered development would emerge and come to reality for the majority of the population on this earth. A project succeeds if the vast majority of people in the communities benefit.

I am talking about the vast potential of energy!

This energy is alternative to the commercially supplied electricity generated by burning fossils and coal that induces dangerous levels of climate change. It is renewable energy or “clean energy” as referred to by environment advocacy groups coming as it is from natural sources that are boundless and constantly replenished. Electricity that is commercially distributed among households and establishments is dirty and non-renewable. On the other hand, alternative energy sources harnessed from the sunlight, water streams, the vast ocean, forests, air, wind, and mountains is limitless and free. Unfortunately, this energy remains largely undeveloped and unharnessed. Yet when converted to electricity these natural sources of energy power up our communities - cheap, affordable, and accessible to all.

Alternative energy is not new technology.

Many people wrongly think renewable energy, like solar power, is new technology. The power of nature has been used for heating, cooking, lighting, and transportation since the primitive age. However, with capitalism-led industrialization more than 500 years ago, the earth’s population began to turn to dirty energy sources such as burning coal, gas, and oil. Over time. capitalist greed and production has spawned warm temperatures, changed weather patterns and disrupted normal balance of nature. This poses grave risks to human beings and all other forms of life on earth. This nightmare is now the subject of global calls to step up renewable energy development to address the climate crisis at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) held just recently at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Nature is endangered in Bicol

According to the Global Forest Watch, five provinces in Bicol lost a combined 273,000 hectares of their natural forest cover from 2010 to 2021. Camarines Sur shows the most alarming deforestation rate in the whole region with 159,000 hectares out of 310,000 hectares lost. Forest cover is essential to monitor and measure because it is vital for life. It is home to millions of species. Forests protect soil from erosion, produce oxygen, store carbon dioxide, and help control climate. The loss of forests contributes to global warming and massive loss of income to poor people living in remote areas who depend on the forest to survive. Deforestation and forest degradation should therefore stop.

Pollution from plastics, garbage, chemicals, and toxic materials affects the clean air and waters of the rivers and oceans. Renewable energy does not produce pollution. Typhoons, volcanic eruptions, and even earthquakes of natural tectonic origins are only made worse by man-made disasters. Wrong priorities in planning, corruption, and dynastic rule at the expense of good governance hurt the chances of inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Lessons from some countries

Developments in renewable energy in China, India, and the US are game changers and a source of inspiration for countries worldwide. Since the 1960s, China has successfully increased farmlands by pushing back deserts with massive forestation and harnessed the considerable potential of the sun in lighting communities and factories with significant government funding. In the US, universities and investment companies gear up to test their latest ocean wave energy technologies for power. China and the US may be in an attritive war for global supremacy. But joining forces to search for solutions to the world’s growing energy needs and adopt newer renewables is a better fruitful, and safe engagement.


Bicol, with its vast natural resources for energy, can and should be a testing site for scientific experimentation, research, and development studies. It is a region that, I believe, has excellent growth potential. Its people have rich socio-cultural, maritime, and trading history of struggle and victory in resilience. Alongside a challenging natural environment, the region is frequented by typhoons, disasters, and multiple crises, including power outages year in and year out. Bicol can be an ideal stage for experiments and prototyping models for renewable energy.

On a positive note, the search for alternative power sources continues. Solar farms are thriving. In Bicol, I saw solar-powered water system facilities in Albay and Camarines Sur, solar-powered irrigation systems, solar-powered campuses, and commercial establishments that consume free electricity from natural sources, mainly solar. Concerned individuals and organizations, like Tabang Bikol Movement, join the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) in their efforts to promote renewable energy to power economic production. Solar, geothermal, and ocean wave energy to tame natural disasters and convert them to powerful electric currents to run the economy is the way to go. It’s a blue-green dream!

On Friday, December 2, at the Berde Asul of the Mariners Canaman campus, Regional Director Rommel Serrano of the DoST-V and TBM forge a Memorandum of Agreement with the turn-over of the off-grid solar panel for the TBM citronella distillation plant set up in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture Field Office Region V and the DA central office. Furthermore, TBM has dedicated its social enterprise development program of HEAL (Health, Environment for Alternative Livelihood) to the People’s Organization of Disaster Survivors (PODiS) and community organizations.

On December 8, Mariners and TBM welcome a visiting multi-awarded scientist, maritime expert in shipbuilding, and inventor of ocean wave renewable energy now under patent with DoST Philippines, Dr. Henry Molintas of the University of Maryland, USA. Being involved in natural energy works is, a powerful, healthy feeling.

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