JUVENTUS: Powering tomorrow, opening minds today

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A few months ago, the whole world was put into an unprecedented halt as if it plummeted into a modern-day Ice Age. The majority of human interactions temporarily stopped as we all stood still; from the once-bustling streets of Makati to the industrious ambiance of Bacolod— everything went to a standstill.

But even this wouldn’t stop the ragtag bunch of like-minded individuals of Electriciteam.

Electriciteam is a team bound by a common goal in mind: sustainable energy for all.

Comprised of Reynard Francisco, Gio Almoite, Carol Balita, Orlando Panelas Jr., Gilbert Ora’a, Joiemarie Bueno, Danielle Savellano, Paul Cortez, Mirus Ponon, Katherine Pederina, Jelay Idanan, and yours truly, Iza Mondia, our group has proposed a project that aims to help the community in the grassroots level through renewable and sustainable energy.

The team was formed through the Online Filipino Youth Action Summit (OFYAS) last May 8 to 10, which was attended by Filipino youth leaders from all around the country.

Despite the distance and the fact that each of us hailed from different places, we managed to form a team.

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The fact that we barely even knew each other, yet we were able to produce a good output and gain new friends in the process, is a milestone by itself.

The creation of the proposal wasn’t all smooth sailing.

We admittedly encountered a few problems here and there, but with support from the team, we were able to complete the task. I myself encountered a few bumps along the way. With a plateful of my own obligations, I struggled with time management and felt like I was in a slump at times. However, words from our project head comforted me in some way:

“Hindi tayo nagbibilangan ng ambag, your presence and what you can offer for the team is already enough and appreciated.”

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After all the struggles, our team was able to come up with SKAPSA: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Development through Grassroots Initiatives, a three-phase initiative comprising three subprojects: Solar Karst, Algaenerator Project, and Sinag-Aralan. The project will be implemented in Baras, Rizal, the home of the first floating solar farm in the Philippines, as well as Masungi Georeserve, a nature reserve, and wildlife sanctuary; this will aid in the advancement of Baras toward sustainability.

First of all, let me give you the 411 on the whole initiative, Solar Karst. The main components of this subproject would revolve around the concept of a community-based shared solar farm system in the Philippines. This aims to make the community self-sufficient in terms of renewable energy.

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The goal of this subproject is to make renewable energy accessible to the community at an affordable price. Unlike the normal electricity grid plan which would have to pass through the National Grid Corporation, electric cooperatives, and other processes, Solar Karst is community-based. The bottom line is, the electricity produced goes directly to the people in the community.

The second subproject is the Algaenerator Project, an initiative focused on bio-batteries. Since the Philippines is no stranger to yearly algal blooms within its waters, we have explored ways to use such creatures to power and generate electricity using algal biomass.

With the combination of both readiness and accessibility of the material, paired with its ecological benefits which outweigh those of the traditional lithium batteries, using algal biomass would be a great way to set a self-sufficient and healthy alternative for electricity generation.

Lastly, delving into the final subproject under the three-phase initiative, we have the Sinag-Aralan. This subproject would stray away from generative alternative electricity, but it would tackle something equally important to the nation — education. 

As a response to this, we thought of a project that would mainly focus on taking the traditional means of teaching into the digital age while focusing its dissemination to the far-flung areas of the nation where education is a scarce resource due to the lack of funding, manpower, and general resources.

The subproject covers aspects from learning materials, educator training for the efficient handling of a classroom, and up to maintenance of a certain standard of education once the project is put into play.

Ultimately, this initiative showcases solutions in finding a sustainable inclination in progress within the nation through finding a way to solve its growing electricity distribution problem and the rampant problem of the growing population of the out-of-school youth. I am grateful to have been part of the team that has shaped it into what it is now, and to what it can become in the future.

Even though we practically just started and we undoubtedly still have a long way to go, I believe it has already contributed greatly to my personal development this quarantine. This project became one of the things that helped me stay sane despite fear and anxiety brought about by the pandemic. It has also strengthened me and served as a boost in my journey as an advocate for the environment.

Working on this project has allowed me to grow in more ways than I could have imagined, and I have certainly gained so much in such a little amount of time.

It made me realize that we do not need to sacrifice the environment in order to maintain a healthy economy. This project brings about a new perspective on our inevitable struggle against limited environmental resources.

It is a fresh idea that could open the doors to countless possibilities of what our tomorrow could look like— if only we open our minds today.

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