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Meralco’s compass of light

Komfie Manalo

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The parols will shine brightly and the colorful lights will flicker to guide us during dark nights. Truly, it will be a happy Christmas for Catanduanes folk this year.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and its social responsibility arm, One Meralco Foundation (OMF), without hesitation, heeded the cries for help of our kababayans in the region after typhoons Rolly and Ulysses hit the Bicol region successively in less than two weeks and sent a team of line crews and equipment to assist in repairing damaged power infrastructure, as well as provided assistance to affected individuals.

Meralco was responding to the call by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi for the immediate restoration of power supply in the province, even promising to bring back lights before Christmas.

“We are attempting (to fully restore electricity in Catanduanes), under the order of (Energy) Secretary (Alfonso) Cusi, before Christmas,” Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella commented.

In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque clarified the Duterte administration is looking for
100 percent power restoration in Catanduanes, with power in some areas returned earlier as repairs are rushed.

He said, “That is for the 100 percent restoration. This does not mean that there will be no partial restoration of electricity. Do not worry. This is not to say that you will not have electricity for two months. It will be restored gradually.”

Caring is loving

It is during moments like these when all hope seems to fade and when we are almost ready to write off 2020, with its endless stretch of restrictions and uncertainties. As if that was not enough, the strongest typhoon to hit the planet this year, super typhoon “Rolly,” barreled through the central Philippines, destroying power lines and bringing darkness in Bicol and Catanduanes province.

Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua disclosed that “Rolly” toppled at least 90 percent of electric posts in the province.

Despite the province being hundreds of kilometers away from its franchise area, Meralco sent a 48-man contingent composed of linemen and engineers and OMF volunteers were enlisted to be part of the Power Restoration Rapid Deployment (PRRD)-Task Force 2020, which closely coordinates with the DoE, National Electrification Administration, Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc., and the electric cooperatives in Catanduanes.

The group traveled more than 25 hours by land and arrived at Virac, the capital of Catanduanes, on 8 November, and immediately began working round the clock to expedite the restoration of power services in affected areas in the province.

Meralco said its contingent traveled to Catanduanes aboard 17 vehicles, composed of Augers, AUV/SUV, basket trucks, pick-ups, and stake trucks to be used in the power restoration of the affected areas.

Before leaving Manila, the Meralco contingent also took the RT-PCR test in compliance with health and safety protocols imposed by the government to ensure the non-transmission of Covid-19 and that the deployed team is fit to work.

A grateful Cua thanked the quick disaster response efforts and relief operations of Meralco and the national government in the province.

Why they do it

In his Facebook post, Meralco employee Samuel Dayao explained why Meralco is doing what it can at times of crisis.

“The reason why our linemen and the whole Meralco team cannot rest and sleep. We were struck by a typhoon, not just a breeze, there was severe flooding and not just a high tide. The province of Bulacan sustained heavy damage triggering a massive response from Meralco and going arm in arm to hasten the restoration (of power).”

He said that teams from Balintawak, Valenzuela, Cavite, Parañaque and even Laguna came to help the people of Bulacan. The crew endured invectives from some people while they did their jobs, tired from work and lacking in sleep. No one even asked if any of the linemen took a day off since the typhoon struck.

“Even until now, we trained ourselves to endure those invectives and criticism because we are carrying the name of our company, Meralco. But with our tired bodies and with the lack of sleep, we still receive abuses and diatribes, we just have to endure, bow our heads and pray for the sake of our company,” Dayao wrote.

He went on to say, “We are also grateful to the many who offer their thanks, and the smiles on their faces give us strength so that when the new day breaks, we would wholeheartedly serve the public as we promised that even with flooding, typhoons, or disasters, you can always rely on Meralco to be there. Thank you and God bless.”

In the end, on darker days, the Meralco team and its OMF are willing to take the long road to lead the way in showing us there is always light at the end of every tunnel. Let the compass of love guide us.

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