Living up to her promise of reaching out to marginalized communities, Vice President Leni Robredo returned to Oriental Mindoro on Wednesday (January 22) to bring light to isolated homes located in the poorest and farthest villages in the municipality of Pola.
Through the help of TeaM Energy Foundation, Inc. (TEFI)—a staunch partner of the Office of the Vice President’s flagship anti-poverty program Angat Buhay—, VP Leni led the turnover of 45 solar kits worth P180,000 to the residents of two barangays in Pola—Brgy. Misong and Brgy. Tagumpay.
Recipients of the solar kits are mostly members of the Mangyan tribe and indigent families living in off-grid communities reachable only through a hike up a steep mountain trail.
Local officials of Pola witnessed the two separate turnover ceremonies in Brgy. Misong and Brgy. Tagumpay, including Mayor Jennifer “Ina Alegre” Cruz, Vice Mayor Leandro “Dodjie” Panganiban Jr., and members of the municipal council of Pola.
The TEFI, in its partnership with Angat Buhay, has brought solar power to hundreds of homes in four barangays of Agutaya, Palawan, giving a total of 317 solar kits worth P942,000 to the residents there.
During the event, VP Leni thanked TEFI for partnering with her office in improving the lives of poor families without access to basic necessities, including electricity.
“Isa po sa mga pangako namin iyong pagpakuryente sa ibang malalayong mga bahay dahil alam natin na mahirap makabitan dahil sa layo. Pero napakapalad po ng aming opisina na nakilala po namin ang TeaM Energy. Sila po iyong tumutulong sa mga komunidad namin na malalayo na imposibleng marating ng linya ng kuryente. Sila iyong nagbibigay ng pag-asa,” VP Leni said.
Also in Pola, VP Leni hiked a muddy three-kilometer trail to a farm in Sitio Catmon in Barangay Casiligan to personally see the irrigation project the local government of Pola developed to boost the productivity and income of around 60 farmers here.
The installation of the small-scale irrigation system covering 60.75 hectares of rice farm was made possible through financial assistance worth almost P2 million from VP Leni’s office to the municipal government of Pola.
This was one of the projects that received special awards in the Bridging Leadership program of VP Leni’s office done in partnership with Seaoil Foundation, proposed by then Pola Mayor Leandro “Dodjie” Panganiban Jr.
“Kami po ay talagang natutuwa sa proyekto dahil ilang dekada na ring nagiging problema ng mga farmers iyan. Walang magawa dahil ang pamumuhay po rito, kahit iyong maliit na water pump lang ni hindi nga makabili kasi inuuna nila iyong pangangailangan ng pamilya at saka pag-aaral ng mga anak,” James Salvacion, President of the Rambutan-Catmon (Rambucat) Farmers’ Association, said.
In her message before the farmers and residents of Sitio Catmon, VP Leni also underscored the importance of government officials doing regular visits to poor communities in addressing the pressing needs of their constituents.
“Iba kapag kami mismo ang nakakakita, iba kapag kami mismo iyong nakakakuwentuhan kaysa pinapadalhan lang kami ng mga papeles. Kasi kapag papeles iyong nakikita namin, hindi namin ramdam kung gaano ka-importante para sa inyo iyong pangangailangan,” she said.