Indigenous Ati to get electricity in upper village

Left, electric cable going up mountainside through trees; right, a nipa hut owned by the Ati is ready for electricity to be hooked up.

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

Great news regarding our Ati electric service project: big progress.

Most importantly, we were finally able to find almost 300 meters of heavy-gauge, ‘main line’, electric cable so that all of the 20 new customers/meters/homes can be hooked up.

Separately, the basic interior wiring in each of the homes has been installed.

Now we will wait for the local power company (AKELCO) here in Malay, Aklan, on Panay Island in the Philippines, to check the work mentioned above and advise on the next necessary steps.

Indigenous Ati to get electricity

New electric customers

The whole electric project is being done with the indigenous, Filipino, Ati tribe that lives near the apartment we are renting during this ‘pandemic pause’ in our global wandering.

When we met the Ati a couple months ago and agreed to provide financial support for some community betterment projects, electricity was high on the list.

Exterior cable

In early June, dozens of Ati volunteers spent a day pulling and hanging over a kilometer of heavy, ‘main line’ cable up through the jungle to their hillside village. But 300 more meters of line was needed to bring service to all the eager new customers. When we looked to buy the extra cable, many hardware stores in the area were out of stock. COVID-19 has interrupted normal supply chains.

Thankfully, we kept checking. And eventually, we stumbled upon a dusty spool in the corner of a small hardware store. Upon measuring, the bundle of cable was only 286 meters. But close enough. SOLD. We were lucky to find it. Cost: just over $1 per meter – including a 5% bulk discount.

The next day, a handful of Ati workers hauled the bundle up the mountain footpath and stretched the new cable from the end of the previously laid main line to the desired end point. The missing few meters – no problem.

Left, close up of electrical arrangement; right, wide shot of nipa hut under construction.

Interior wiring

At the same time, a four-man crew of Ati carpenters crafted and installed basic electric panels in each house; to be connected to the secondary service line, metered, and activated by AKELCO. The work is being overseen and checked by a local handyman with electric experience.

The panels are simple: breaker, outlet, junction box, switch, socket, and LED bulb. The panels are then affixed on an inside, upper-wall, protected area in each of the nipa hut homes. About a meter of wire pokes out of each dwelling waiting for hookup.

Actually, a few of the Ati homes are still being worked on, repaired, upgraded, remodeled; made ready for the new power. But even they received the panel in the expectation that their work will be done before AKELCO arrives.

Requirements met

Bottom line, these two developments mean we can now tell AKELCO that the Ati have completed their assigned contributions to the project. The ball will now be in AKELCO’s court. Hopefully, they will move quickly to get their new customers connected. We do know a new customer service fee must also be paid and a safety and conservation seminar attended.

The Ati are excited at the prospect of finally getting electrical service in their small homes. And with the help of our financial contributors we are thrilled to finance this big step forward in Ati comfort and convenience. Stay tuned for more updates and developments on our Ati electric project and others.

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

Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Indigenous Ati to get electricity in upper village.”


Earth Vagabonds are on a travel pause in the Philippines during the pandemic. Ellen and Tedly have been in the Philippines since November 2019; Tedly’s mom Diane since December 2019.

When everything shut down, they decided to stay in Malay, Aklan, on Panay Island in the Philippines, across a channel from Boracay Island.

While unable to continue traveling in the Philippines and other countries, they decided their unused travel dollars would be well spent helping others, including the Ati.

Read about how we met the Ati.

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