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NGCP: Changing lives

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“What are we in power for?”

It’s an expression often attributed to a politician who has gained notoriety to mean the pursuit of power for selfish and personal agenda.

But the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), a company engaged in the transmission of electrical power, is doing exactly the opposite.

It is giving back to the communities where its power lines traverse to empower the people and encourage them to become partners in the greater task of nation-building.

NGCP’s history goes back to 2001 with the enactment of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 or EPIRA, which restructured the electricity supply industry and the privatization of the government-owned National Power Corporation.

While the law mandated the government, through TransCo, to retain ownership of the country’s transmission assets, it allowed private investors to take the obligation to operate, maintain, and expand the grid.

In 2007, the consortium of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. of Henry Sy, Jr., Calaca High Power Corporation of Robert Coyiuto, Jr., and the State Grid Corporation of China as technical partner, won the 25-year concession to operate the country’s power transmission network.

NGCP officially started operations as power transmission service provider in 2009 under a congressionally-granted 50-year franchise, which gave it the license to operate and maintain the transmission system and related facilities.

Besides its mandate to operate and maintain the Philippine power grid, NGCP also focused on its corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects guided by an awareness of its duties and responsibilities on how it could have an impact on communities that lie in the path of its power lines and facilities.

The company adopted five core components which consist of community development, education, environment, safety and anti-pilferage.

Empowerment through education

According to NGCP, it sees education as a link for the youth towards a more secure and progressive future. So, as the company performs its responsibility to operate and maintain a reliable transmission system, it likewise committed itself to strengthen the nation by helping in the education of the country’s youth.

And perhaps it is in this area where NGCP’s efforts to assist its host communities have the biggest reach and impact.

One of its most notable projects supporting education is the Gamit ni Bulilit program. It is a yearly project that assists pupils from Grades 1 to 3 in public schools in NGCP’s host communities across the country.

The project fills a gap in the country’s free public education system. Studies have shown that despite free tuition in the country’s public elementary and high schools, a significant number of students still drop out.

Among the reasons cited for such number of dropouts was the lack of the means of the family of these students to provide them with school supplies, uniform, transportation fare, and food.

The Gamit ni Bulilit program tries to remedy one aspect of the problem by distributing school bags, each with 10 notebooks, pencils and other supplies, which can be used throughout the year.

This year, 120,000 Grades 1 to 3 students from 400 schools nationwide are included in the program. Beneficiaries include 166 schools in North Luzon, 55 in South Luzon, 81 in Visayas and 98 in Mindanao. These schools are located in barangays hosting NGCP’s facilities.

“We focused our program on children from the lower grade levels on the idea that educational motivation is most effective during a child’s formative years. Fostering interest for learning at an early age will keep the children invested in their education and increase the chances of their staying in school. NGCP hopes that the children will be inspired to eventually finish their education,” NGCP said.

Along with the distribution of school supplies, the students are introduced to the basic concepts of transmission line safety. They are given age-appropriate lectures and materials on the do’s and don’ts around transmission lines and facilities and on anti-pilferage.
Notebooks and coloring books with this safety theme are among the materials distributed.

“The program is also NGCP’s way of expressing gratitude to our host communities who, through the years, have been supportive in protecting NGCP facilities and in ensuring its safety so that everyone enjoys reliable electricity,” NGCP added.

In addition to distributing school supplies, NGCP has been constructing schools for select host communities. In December last year, it turned over a completed two-classroom school building to the Sinait National High School (SNHS) in Ilocos Sur.

The school building is a collaboration between the company and its host community, with teachers sharing in the labor to raise the elevation of the site and Sinait Mayor Glen Guzman providing the municipal government’s support. To ensure safe access of students to the classrooms, the NGCP also constructed a concrete staircase.

The new school building is expected to ease the congestion in SNHS, which has around 3,300 students enrolled for the school year.

“One of NGCP’s CSR initiatives is community development. We want to ensure our partner communities’ socio-economic progress by taking care of their children in school and by providing facilities which are conducive to learning,” the company said in a statement.

Sinait hosts NGCP’s San Esteban-Laoag 115 kV (kiloVolt) and the San Esteban-Laoag 230 kV transmission lines, which provide power transmission services to the entire Ilocos province.

Livelihood programs

As part of its advocacy for community development, the NGCP has conducted several livelihood programs for its host communities.

One of these is the company’s “Project Linang,” which teaches host communities sustainable farming.

NGCP, together with its project partner, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF-Philippines), reinforced its focus on its sustainable livelihood program by providing a three-day training on household vegetable gardening in Barangays Pacalundo and Basagad, Balo-i, Lanao del Norte in July this year.

A total of 165 residents participated in the activity, consisting of lectures and hands-on training for startup backyard gardening.

The municipal government of Balo-i supported the project that will help residents become more resourceful, make use of available areas for planting vegetables, and sustain their daily food consumption.

As Balo-i farmers rely principally on coconut and rice farming, the project provides an added value for them to diversify their products and an opportunity for an additional source of income during the lean season.

Aside from the two barangays, the training was also conducted in six more areas in Mindanao and one in Luzon. This is in addition to the eight barangays in Luzon and Visayas that were beneficiaries of the program when it was initiated in 2017.

The program’s second phase will focus on agro-enterprise development interventions. This stage of the project will entail the organization of agro-enterprises in the communities by producing and consolidating high-value vegetables with strong market potential.

To help participants understand the basics and importance of fund utilization and the concept and principle of savings, NGCP will also establish seminars on financial literacy and introduce the Group Savings and Loan Association (GSLA).

The improved access to financial services will enhance and strengthen farming activities, and will build resilience in times of emergencies or economic downturn.

“The activity is under NGCP’s Project Linang: A Sustainable Farm-to-Table Programme designed to help communities become self-sustaining through a three-phase program. First, teach them to grow their own food, then strengthen their capabilities as farmers and traders (market their products through linkage) and lastly, help them establish an organization with a common understanding of available opportunities for them and the goal of improving their quality of life. To date, at least 450 residents of NGCP’s host barangays have benefitted from the program,” NGCP said in a statement.

Working alongside NGCP and WWF-Philippines is East-West Seed Foundation (EWSF), which provides the technical support and startup kits for the participants.

Tech-voc education

In line with its thrust of promoting community development programs, NGCP partnered with the Don Bosco Foundation of the Philippines in September this year for technical-vocational training programs in its host communities.

The partnership was sealed and formalized with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by NGCP President and CEO Anthony L. Almeda and Don Bosco Foundation President Fr. Anthony Paul E. Bicomong.

Under the sponsorship grant, qualified youth from NGCP’s host communities will be able to avail of Don Bosco’s Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET) programs in civil works and construction.

“NGCP believes that by creating these opportunities for growth, we not only improve their quality of life, we also contribute to the overall socio-economic development of the Filipino workforce,” said NGCP president and CEO Anthony L. Almeda.

Around 6,500 urban poor families in the community of Southville 7 in Calauan, Laguna are expected to benefit from the pilot run of the project. Most of the residents were victims of Typhoon Ondoy and informal settlers who were living along the Pasig River before they were relocated by the government.

The Don Bosco TVET Center in Calauan, Laguna will serve as the partner-school for this community.

“Nineteen schools and training centers were nominated for the project, but Don Bosco was chosen because its mission of serving the underprivileged and the youth, along with its educational discipline, are aligned with NGCP’s goal of opening avenues for skills development to residents of its host communities,” the company said.

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