Residents in 21 island communities would enjoy cheaper electricity in 2017, as they would have hybrid renewable energy systems or HRES, replacing more expensive diesel power plants.

The project will be carried out by the National Power Corp. (NPC) that will spend over P400 million (M) to transform existing diesel power plants in Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) areas into hybrid plants under its renewable energy program for 2017-2020.

NPC said a hybrid energy system or hybrid power — combining two or more renewable energy sources — is used to provide increased system efficiency and greater balance in energy supply, resulting in cheaper rates, said Urbano C. Mendiola, Jr., NPC vice president for corporate affairs group.

NPC aims to provide 24/7 reliable electricity supply initially to 21 pilot island communities under its four-year hybridization program, starting in 2017, converting diesel power plants into solar and wind energy. The sites were chosen according to their tourism potential, Mendiola added.

According to a new study by Berlin- based companies Reiner Lemoine Institut and Solarpraxis AG, solar-wind hybrid power plants are approximately twice as efficient compared to diesel power plants.

The conversion of the diesel power plants in SPUG areas will certainly be beneficial as hybrid energy systems often yield greater economic and environmental returns than wind, solar, geothermal or trigeneration stand-alone systems by themselves, Mendiola said.

Starting in 2017, NPC will spend P113.6 M to put up an additional 568 megawatts of hybrid plants to diesel plants in six sites, namely: Gigantes Island in Iloilo; Almagro and Sto. Niño Islands in Samar; Sto. Niño and Doong Islands in Cebu; and Maripipi Island in Biliran.

In 2018, the NPC will allot P78.4 M in five sites that will generate an additional 392 MW, converting diesel plants into hybrids. These are in: Luuk Island in Sulu; Banton and Concepcion Islands, in Romblon; Tagapul-an Island in Samar; and Balimbing Island in Tawi-Tawi

In 2019, hybrids will replace diesel plants in five sites, where NPC will spend P113.6 M, generating an additional 568 MW. These are in: Guintarcan Island in Cebu; San Vicente in Samar; Sintangkay Island in Tawi-Tawi; Sacol Island in Zamboanga; and Jomalig Island in Quezon.

Finally in 2020, six more diesel plants will be hybridized, worth P124.8 M, generating an additional 624 MW. These are in: Limawasa Island in Southern Leyte; Tandubas and Manuk-Mangkaw Islands in Tawi-Tawi; Balut Island in Sarangani; Hikdop Island in Surigao; and Palanan in Isabela.

One of the strong benefits of the HRES is it does not require grid expansion, since the plants generate wind and solar power at different intervals and during complementary seasons. This helps ensure that the level of energy being fed into the grid is steadier than that of wind or photovoltaic power plants alone, the NPC said.

The use of renewable energy hybrid systems in its missionary electrification program has been a plan of NPC to continually lower the Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME) of the 290 Small Power SPUG power plants across the country, with the current UCME at P0.15 per kilowatt hour, said NPC president and CEO Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita

NPC-SPUG has been receiving UCME subsidy since 2003. However, the available UCME has never been enough to fund all operational and capital expenditure requirements of NPC-SPUG. For year 2003 to 2011, NPC-SPUG will only receive P22.81 Billion in subsidy against an actual requirement of P37.06 Billion.

Interestingly enough, studies show that hybrid systems are less costly than diesel generation from a net present cost perspective even with the high diesel fuel price subsidies.

Since hybrids are also more environmentally-friendly because reliance on diesel generation has negative effects on the surrounding environment, including soil, groundwater, and air pollution, they represent a strong step towards achieving sustainable desert agriculture.

Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, UCME is collected from end-users. The collections will be used for the electrification of remote communities or areas not connected to the main transmission grid. (Rosemarie Señora with reports from The Philippine Star)

The oldest person in Negros Occidental — 118-year old Francisca Susano of Barangay Oringao, Kabankalan City — and 74 other centenarians were honored by the Negros Occidental provincial government, last Thursday, November 5, 2015, during the 117th Cinco de Noviembre commemoration, at the provincial capitol grounds, in Bacolod City.

Born on September 11, 1897, Susano is still responsive and can walk on her feet. She is probably the oldest living Filipino, and one the oldest in the world. Once her birth credentials are verified, she could be considered the oldest living woman in the world.

Never gone to school, Susano got married when she was just 14 and bore 14 children. She and her husband were able to sustain their needs by working as farm laborers. She said her husband passed away a long time ago.

Her eldest child is 99 years old, and still alive.

Susano is grandmother to 70 grandchildren and to four great grandchildren.

Asked what the secret to her long life is, she replied that she always eat vegetable. She also eats meat, when available.

She also said that she’s very thankful for the program of the Negros Occidental provincial government, which early this year approved the ‘Negros First Centenarian Act,’ granting a one-time P100,000 cash incentive to centenarians.

Those honored and became P100,000 richer, too, along with Susano were 74 centenarians, according the Negros Occidental Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO). The province’s proud centenarians included: nine from the 1st District (D); three from 2nd D; 18 from 3rd D; 15 from 4th D; 13 from 5th D; and 17 from the 6th D.

Last week, the Negros Occidental Provincial Board approved a supplemental budget of P10 million for the centenarians, upon the request of Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr.

Beneficiaries of the ‘Negros First Centenarian Act,’ must be residents of Negros Occidental for at least three years. Those residing in Bacolod City are not qualified.

During the 117th Cinco de Noviembre commemoration, provincial official led by Governor Marañon also honored seven “Outstanding Negrenses.”

This year’s awardees included: the couple Reynaldo and Ma. Lomer Villan, who received the Pasidungog Award for entrepreneurship; Edith Villanueva, for public service and health promotion; brothers Ricardo Yanson Jr. and Leo Rey, for youth and sports development; Elsie Coscolluela, for education; and Modesto Sa-onoy, for journalism.

Cinco de Noviembre, a special non-working holiday in Negros Occidental, commemorates a historical event on November 5, 1898, when Negrenses bluffed the Spaniards to gain their freedom.

The marching revolutionists, led by General Juan Araneta from Bago City and General Aniceto Lacson from Silay City, brandished fake weapons – "rifles" carved out of palm fronds and cannons made from rolled bamboo mats that had been painted black. The Spaniards decided to surrender upon seeing the armed troops with the fake weapons. (With reports from Rappler.com)

Daang Matuwid standard-bearer Mar Roxas praised the 2,700 officers and members of the Pangasinan Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (TODA) Rescue, during their induction, held November 3, at CSI Stadia, in Dagupan.

The TODA Rescue will serve as ‘force multipliers’ or deputies of the Philippine National Police (PNP) against criminality and in disaster preparedness in Pangasinan. The group’s formation was made possible through the partnership of the PNP Pangasinan provincial police office with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Pangasinan TODA, said Representative Gina de Venecia (4th District, Pangasinan).

The initiative was also inspired by OPLAN Lambat Sibat, the anti-criminality campaign spearheaded by Roxas during his stint as Secretary of Interior and Local Government.

The Pangasinan TODA Rescue members were on hand during the onslaught of Typhoon Lando last October, as they braved flash floods to bring women and children back to safety.

"Ginawa lang namin po ‘yun dahil ‘yung mga kababayan namin ay nahirapan lumikas. Sinacrifice [sacrificed] din namin ang ang aming sarili. Kababayan naman namin ‘yun e,” said Joseph Estrada, a namesake of the former President, and a tricycle driver from Burgos, Pangasinan.

"Nagpapasalamat ako sa inyong lahat, dahil base sa ulat na aking natatanggap, kayo talaga na galing sa iba-ibang TODA ang siyang nasa frontline ng PNP at ng DILG para mailayo sa kapahamakan ang inyong mga kababayan," Roxas told the more than 2,700 tricycle drivers present in the convention.

Aside from continuing the reforms in PNP, TODA Rescue also aims to protect the tricycle drivers from abusive, illegal and unjust activities.

"Mahalaga po na hindi kayo hina-harass, mahalaga po na hindi kayo pinagsasamantalahan, mahalaga po na di kayo kinokotongan," Roxas said.

Despite the concerns raised by the Commission on Audit (COA) regarding the low utilization of Typhoon Yolanda relief funds, there is a ray of hope that shines on our kababayan in Tacloban City. They now have a potable water supply, an on-site water source, a water filtration and rain harvesting system.

Thanks to the Nigerian government’s donation worth $300,000 (roughly P14 million) that was used to fund the project, which will initially benefit 77 families who were the first to transfer to Ridgeview Park resettlement site, in Tacloban City.

The project was jointly inaugurated by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines Buba Tekune, on October 29, 2015. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a long-time partner of the DSWD on disaster response, was also involved in the completion of the project.

“This donation is a gift and an offer of friendship from the people of Nigeria to the Filipino people,” Tekune said. He also recognized the resiliency of the typhoon survivors, citing that the city barely showed signs of devastation two years after the disaster.

Acknowledging the assistance of the Nigerian government, Soliman said that the project has resolved the issue on water rationing.

“We thank the Nigerian people for the friendship and the solidarity that they have provided. Through the bond that the Nigerians have with the Filipino people, they have provided and donated US$300,000 (P14 million) and this was used for the tanks and water filtration. The project will provide water for all those who move in to the Ridgeview area,” Soliman added.

Editor’s Note: This second part concludes our series on the historic events that transpired more than seven decades ago, leading to the successful liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese occupation, and some quick facts and trivia on the historic Battle of Leyte.

For Part One of the series, click here.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf has paved the way to the speedy liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese. Here are some of trivia and facts on the world’s greatest battle in naval history, for your appreciation:

1. The Battle of Leyte spanned over more than 100,000 square miles of sea. It practically
In terms of area or coverage, the Battle of Leyte is just a little less than the total land area of the Philippines, at 115,831 square miles (or 300,000 square kilometers), and twice as much as the total area of Luzon (the largest island of the Philippines), at 42,458 square miles.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf — between Japan and US (with the help of Australia) — was the determining point of US naval power and control in the Pacific. Actually, it was composed of four separate engagements: the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea; the Battle of Surigao Strait; the Battle of Cape Engaño; and the Battle of Samar. These battles were fought by the US Navy’s 3rd and 7th fleets against the Japanese Imperial Navy to support General Douglas MacArthur and the Allied forces in the invasion of Leyte.

2. The largest battleships ever built were in action during the battle.
At that time, the Yamato class battleship was the largest class of warship ever constructed in history, and only two of its kind was ever completed: Yamato and Musashi. These two behemoth warships were the heaviest and most powerfully-armed warships ever built, with a displacement of 71,659 tons (70,527 long tons) at full load, and armed with nine 46-cm (18.1-inch) main guns.
The two Japanese super battleships were engaged in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, where Mushashi was sunk and Yamato was damaged by aircraft deployed from the American carriers. It was also during this war that aircraft carriers were proven more effective than the larger battleships. With the result, most naval forces of the world are now focusing on building aircraft carriers rather than the super massive battleships.

3. The battle involved more than 800 ships and 1,800 aircraft.
The clashes involved the US Navy’s 3rd and 7th fleets (which was also participated by the Royal Australian Navy) against the Japanese Imperial Navy, composed of the Center Force (the most powerful in the Japanese forces), Southern Force, Northern Force and some land-based aircraft of the Japanese empire.
The Allied forces consisted of 8 large aircraft carriers (including the large fleet carriers USS Intrepid, USS Enterprise, USS Franklin, USS Lexington and USS Essex of the US Navy’s 3rd fleet), 8 light carriers, 18 escort carriers, 12 battleships, 25 cruisers, 141 destroyers and escorts, and around 1,500 aircraft. On the other hand, the Japanese Imperial Navy comprised of 4 aircraft carriers, 9 battleships (including the giant battleship Yamato and Mushashi), 19 cruisers, 34 destroyers and 700 aircraft.

4. The opposing armadas carried a total of 200,000 soldiers.
The combined fleets of the opposing forces carried around 200,000 soldiers. Sadly, several thousands of them died during the battle. The Japanese lost 12,500 naval soldiers, while the Allied forces suffered around 2,800 casualties in a battle, where the latter claimed victory.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf is known as the largest naval battle in modern history in terms of the number of soldiers involved. It was the 3rd largest in the same category in human history, next to the Battle of the Red Cliffs (China 208 A.D.), that involved 850,000 soldiers, and the Battle of the Salamis (Greeks vs. Persians, 480 B.C.E.), that involved 250,000 soldiers.

5. First organized kamikaze attack by the Japanese
It was during the Battle of Leyte Gulf that the Japanese forces launched the first organized ‘Kamikaze’ attacks (suicide attacks by Japanese aircraft pilots against Allied naval vessels). The Japanese “Special Attack Force” was put into operation as a desperate move by Vice Admiral Takijirō Ōnishi during the closing stages of the Battle of Samar, on October 25, 1944. The Kamikaze attacks (also called Tokkō attacks) by the Japanese aircraft hit 7 carriers and 40 other ships. Five of them sunk, including the escort carrier St. Lo.
The Japanese continued the Kamikaze operations after the Battle of Leyte Gulf. According to reports, there were approximately 3,800 Japanese aircraft aviators who made such attacks against the Allied forces during World War 2, and 19% of the attacks managed to hit US ships.

6. It happened because of MacArthur’s personal goal.
Before the plan on the Philippine invasion was finalized, General Douglas MacArthur (Commander in Chief of Southwest Pacific Area) and Admiral Chester Nimitz (Commander in Chief of Pacific Ocean Areas) initially had opposing plans. Nimitz’s plan was centered on the invasion of Formosa (Taiwan) while MacArthur, who in 1942 had famously promised to the Filipinos “I shall return,” planned for the invasion of the Philippines. According to Nimitz’s plan, an invasion of Formosa could give the Allied forces control of the sea routes between Japan and Southern Asia. Invading Formosa could also cut the supply lines of Japan to South East Asia.
However, MacArthur stressed out the moral obligation of US to liberate the Philippines, and leaving the country in the hands of the Japanese would be a blow to the American prestige. The Philippines was also a vital source of oil for Japan, and the air force the Japanese accumulated in the country could give the Allied Forces a serious threat. The plan to invade the Philippines was confirmed during the meeting between MacArthur, Nimitz and US President Roosevelt in July 1944.

Sources: http://faq.ph/

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