It used to take a 45-minute boat ride for people living in Barangay (village) Calawit, Balete town in Batangas to be able to charge their cellular phones in mainland Taal, as well as buy batteries for flashlights and kerosene for lamps to light up their homes. With their recent acquisition of solar lamps, all the villagers needed to do was to let the sun do all the work to make life easy for them. The solar lamps were distributed to 80 boatmen, tour guides and horsemen of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano Protected Landscape on Aug. 7 as part of a project of Globe Telecom Inc., Pusod Inc. and Stiftung Solarenergie-Solar Energy Foundation Philippines. Yolly Crisanto, Corporate Communications head of Globe Telecom Inc., said Calawit was one of the villages identified by Globe Telecom as not part of the main electrical transmission grid so they rely on fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum to provide light in the evening. It is one of the 13 villages of Balete town and the only barangay from Balete on Taal Volcano Island. It has a population of 1,500, mostly fishermen, tour guides, boatmen and horse guides.
Arnel Landicho, a boatman and village chief of Calawit, said he would expose his solar lamp to sunlight for half a day for it to be fully charged. Should the solar lamps encounter problems, the recipients have to bring their units to Pusod Taal Lake Conservation Center (TLCC), which will, in turn, hand these over to Stiftung Solarenergie in Makati City for repair or replacement. Right now, some of the lamps have not been working well so they have to bring the units back to TLCC, Landicho said. He said tourists going to Taal Volcano visit only during the day so he would use his solar lamp at his home at night. “There are no more guests at night, but if there will be we use the solar lamps to bring them there but guests have to secure a permit from the authorities first.”