2 steps forward, 1 step — sideways

tedly with the tribal council at an akelco meeting

Last Updated on June 7, 2023 by Ellen

I braced for disappointment. What had seemed a clear path forward was now uncertain. Another group of managers at the power company (AKELCO) would need to review our electrification project.

Yesterday morning had started well enough. There seemed to be excitement amongst members of the Ati tribal leadership council when we met to review and confirm the plan to prepare 18 hilltop Ati homes for basic electric service.

But despite several good English speakers/translators at the meeting, answers to a few important questions were still unclear to me.

It was decided that we should visit the local AKELCO office to get the complete information before proceeding.

2 steps forward

Empowered in 2020

The Ati are a disadvantaged indigenous Filipino group that we’ve met, and are assisting, during this ‘pandemic pause’ in our global wandering.

Prior to our involvement, the Ati had ongoing communications with AKELCO about their desire to get power to their hilltop village near our current home in Malay, Aklan on Panay Island, Philippines.

In fact, just days after we first met the Ati, dozens of community members spent one Sunday morning hanging a mile-long, electric ‘mainline’ from their lowland settlement up through the jungle to the more remote ‘high village’.

2 steps forward: Ati tribe members position the main electric line, given by the power company, to the upper village in Malay, Aklan, on Panay Island in the Philippines.

The line was since inspected and approved by one AKELCO representative. But now, when we asked that same individual for further guidance, we were told that we’d need to speak to company “engineers”.

Engineering a solution

We made an appointment to meet the engineers this morning — and held off on the planned purchase the electrical wire, breakers, outlets, and fixtures that, with the help of our foreign contributors, we have agreed to supply for the individual Ati homes who will get power.

At 10:00 a.m. today, myself, the Ati Chieftain, Ernesto, and tribal secretary, Glory, did speak with several AKELCO engineers at the company service center. When we made specific inquiries about wire gauges and distances, transformers, meters, and more, they decided they wanted to see the situation for themselves.

Early this afternoon, two of the engineers met us at the lower Ati settlement to personally review the existing cable placement and consult on the best way to get the project completed.

Major credit to the two guys, too; they spent nearly two hours at the site including making the 30-minute hike up the mountain, checking the unfinished line, visiting with several of the Ati waiting for power service, and understanding the ‘lay of the land’.

Akelco workers make a site visit on Ati mountainous land in Malay, Aklan, Philippines.

2 steps forward, 1 step — sideways

Delay, not disappointment

In the end, they basically OK’d the plan as envisioned. They did offer some direction regarding the continuing preparations and said at least one transformer will need to be installed (and likely another when the water tank pump system – another pending project – goes online).

When I asked about a timetable, I was told “it depends” (on workloads and weather), but “pretty fast”. Unfortunately, we weren’t fast enough to get back down to the AKELCO vehicle. A cloudburst soaked everyone. Again, thanks to the engineers for their help and good humor.

Hopefully, we can get the houses ready, the remaining wire strung up in a few days, and AKELCO back on-scene to install meters and make final connections before more extended wet weather, which usually arrives in August.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW

Thanks for reading, “2 steps forward, 1 step — sideways.”

More service work by Earth Vagabonds:

Earth Vagabonds will travel again, when borders reopen.

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