Ilocos Norte DOST scholars’ PailaJuan Project brings electrical power to remote areas

PailaJuan Project Ilocos Norte DOST scholars
PailaJuan is inspired by the Pasilaw Project of the Integrated Institute of Electrical Engineers (IIEE)-Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU).

The Movement of Ilocos Norte DOST Scholars (MINDS) PailaJuan Project is bringing electrical power to remote areas.

The MINDS group and its partner organizations Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (INEC) and Electrical Engineers-Mariano Marcos State University (IIEE-MMSU) launched the PailaJuan Project in July 2021 to bring electrical power to four (4) far-flung areas in Ilocos Norte, namely: Batac, Bacarra, Dingras, and Sarrat.

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The project primarily focuses on rural electrification or the process of bringing electrical power to remote areas. However, in places that are impossible to build an electric line, distribution of solar-powered (and/or any renewable sources of energy) lamps and light bulbs are being done as an alternative.

Since the establishment of the organization in 2018, MINDS has formed a closer bond resulting in easier coordination among the scholars and they have been dedicated to providing lifelong development to its members and the community through volunteerism work.

April Jieren R. Muska, president of MINDS, shared the inspiration behind the PailaJuan Project. “This project is not actually new; it was inspired by Pasilaw Project of the Integrated Institute of Electrical Engineers (IIEE)-Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) Chapter. For me, electricity is not supposed to be a privilege, it’s a need especially this pandemic. Everything now is online and one thing that we can give to poor families is light for them to be connected, to feel inclusivity,” she emphasized.

“The launching of the project is very overwhelming. We are very happy with everyone’s support and their positive feedback to PailaJuan. We are hoping that other scholar-organizations in the country will also adopt this project in their respective communities,” Muska expressed.

Muska also shared how they raised enough funds for the implementation of the project. The INEC provided 40 packs of pro-poor materials which are estimated to be Php 70,000.00 and 40 units of stand fans.

The Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) also responded to MINDS’ request for help and the institute granted them Php 180,000.00 cash assistance. In addition, the team of scholars conducted donation drives and launched their merchandise such as PailaJuan shirts and PailaJuan stickers to help further fund the project. Through those initiatives, they were able to accumulate an estimated amount of Php 20,000 which they spent to buy the additional electrical materials, electric fan, and tools to be used in the installation of electric lines.

However, due to the pandemic, they were able to install only 14 electrical lines and distributed 17 PailaJuan kits in Bacarra and Batac, Ilocos Norte.

“The implementation is the hardest part because of the uncertainty of our situation and it’s the crucial stage of the project. MINDS is very grateful that DOST RO-I scholarship unit is constantly helping us from collaboration to implementation,” Muska added.

With the support of the government and other institutions, the team remains steadfast with their unwavering dedication to this initiative and they vow to complete the implementation of the project.

“We are just waiting for the GCQ to be lifted in the province to continue the implementation in the remaining municipalities. As of now, the electrical plans for the 14 houses are still on-going. It will then be forwarded to their Local Government Unit building office for the inspection,” Muska confirmed.

Aside from their unselfish dedication, what drives them to continue working on projects that would benefit the community is their love for the country.

“Despite of the pandemic, there are a lot of scholars who want to take part (for both Yacap and PailaJuan) in helping the community,” she shared. She also has a message for her co-scholars, “The best thing that we can do to maximize the life we have is to utilize our learnings and integrate volunteerism in our character.”

The scholars are currently working on multiple public service initiatives which are the Barani Eco-brick Urban Garden, Project GILL (Ginhawa para kay Lolo at Lola) under the YACAP (Youth Advocacy in Caring for the Aged and PWDs) Initiative, together with the PailaJuan Project.

Dr. Armando Q. Ganal, director of DOST-I, also commended the scholars for being an inspiration despite their young age. “I commend them for this, that even at their young age and even at these trying times, when our spirits are dwindling because of the morbid effects of this Corona Virus Disease, which has greatly affected our way of living, still they have been so passionate at providing their services. You are an inspiration to us. You are truly scholars of the nation.”

The other officials who attended the launching event were DOST Secretary Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña; Dr. Josette T. Biyo, director of DOST- Science Education Institute (SEI); Dr. Shirley C. Agrupis, president of MMSU, and Engr. Felino Herbert Agdigos, general manager of INEC.

DOST Scholars across the country have volunteered for COVID-19 response efforts.

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