Department of Science and Technology (DOST) scholars in Ilocos Norte, who formed the Movement of Ilocos Norte DOST Scholars (MINDS), are bringing power to the less fortunate members of their community through the PailaJuan Project. 

MINDS has partnered with Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (INEC) and Electrical Engineers-Mariano Marcos State University (IIEE-MMSU) to realize the initiative, which launched officially in July this year. 

Photo from DOST

The program aims to electrify rural communities in the region, especially those that are in remote areas. The scheme also provides solar-powered devices and supplies to areas where electrical lines are unable to be built. 

MINDS President April Jieren Muska said the project is not a new idea. She notes they were inspired by previous initiatives that were also bent on electrifying hard-to-reach areas in Ilocos Norte.

“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,” Muska revealed.

According to Muska, electricity is not a privilege and should be accessible to all. 

Photo from DOST

“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.

In support, DOST donated Php 180,000 in cash assistance to the initiative. So far, the group has installed 14 electrical lines and distributed 17 PailaJuan kits in Bacarra and Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Muska acknowledged the difficulties that the pandemic brought, however, she said more help is on the way. 

“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,” she shared. 

“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 added.

DOST-I Director Dr. Armando Ganal praised the efforts of the scholars and the example they set for other Filipino youngsters. 

“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.”

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