It's like a blind person who can see for the first time.
That is what it was like last Saturday, April 21, for the Aeta community of Alunan in Tarlac when lights were turned on in their houses, a gift from Project Liwanag, an NGO dedicated to lighting up communities in remote areas that had been in the dark, literally, all their lives.
Project Liwanag (PL) is a grand undertaking by a group of young men and women who, having seen first hand how lack of illumination deepens further the dire situation poor communities find themselves in, have taken it upon themselves to make a difference in their lives as catalysts.
One of the drivers of the group is Raphael Galvez, son of Ai-Ai, who a few weeks ago opened our eyes to their project and solicited the Club’s help. Impressed with the project, our members responded, signing up for pledges that totaled P151,000 after only a few minutes. It was, as it turned out, the start of the Club’s involvement in the project
Last Saturday, Pres. Jun Jun & Cecille Dayrit and Jun Jun’s brother Ignacio, together with Ai-Ai & Rose Galvez with their children, and Drexx Laggui and his kids motored to the project site-- Sitio Alunan, Brgy. Sta. Juliana in Capas—to see for themselves how the project is impacting lives. Also making the trip were Mark Banal, Mark Cato, Prame Cato, Daisylyn Pacquiao, Johannalyn Pacquiao, Luigi Cato, Kristelle Johnson and Elena Gana, members of the RC Makati-sponsored Rotaract Club of Makati.
Situated in the middle of a Abellen mountain range, Sitio Alunan has a population of about 1,100 persons, or 210 households.
Some 106 households have been energized under the project. In addition, 621 households in eight communities now have solar lighting; 136 Aetas now have birth certificates; five gabi (rootcrop) plantations, two banana plantations and two people organizations have been put up. The project has also built a community school and a water project that provides clean water; there is also a nutrition program for the children.
With the support of its sponsors, One Meralco Foundation, Meralco Corporate Partners, and RC Makati, Project Liwanag hopes to light up more communities and open the people to opportunities for a better life.