Access to stable and reliable electricity plays an important role in powering livelihood activities and public utilities to drive inclusive development and economic growth.

According to the World Bank Global Electrification Database, which tracks the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 or the Energy Progress Report, 96.84% of the Philippines’ population in 2020 already has access to electricity. While this number is considerably high, there remains a small percentage of Filipinos that continue to be burdened by the lack of electric service.

Mindful of its capabilities as the largest electric distribution utility in the country, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) goes beyond its mandate of ensuring that its more than 7.5 million customers within its franchise area have stable and reliable electric service 24/7. The company, through its social development arm, One Meralco Foundation (OMF), has been actively pursuing electrification initiatives for households and schools beyond its borders in its bid to contribute to the national goal of achieving total electrification.

“For many years, we have been focusing on home electrification for low-income families as well as in public schools’ electrification in far-flung areas which extend outside Meralco’s franchise area.

These communities which still struggle with access to electricity are really in remote islands and mountainous areas which makes our work very missionary in nature since we really try to reach even the farthest barangays.” Meralco Chief CSR Officer and OMF President Jeffrey O. Tarayao said.


Following the remarkable success of Light Up El Nido, a donation campaign in El Nido, Palawan that benefitted 600 families across 12 communities in barangays of Bucana, Bebeladan and Teneguiban, OMF institutionalized the program into a solar lamp donation program, which it aptly called Light Up Pilipinas.

With an initial fund donated by Meralco’s corporate customers and employees amounting to Php1.8 million, OMF is targeting to distribute more than 3,600 solar lamps to off-grid communities across the country this year.

The program’s first beneficiaries this year were 300 families from the municipalities of Morong, Abucay, Orani, Mariveles, and Bagac in the province of Bataan, which included indigenous Aetas. The beneficiaries received their Namene SM100 solar lights on June 12 this year when the country commemorated the 124th Independence Day. For OMF, this initiative has put a unique touch to the occasion as it freed the 300 families from using hazardous source of lights like kerosene lamps and other fuel-based alternatives.

This was followed by Camotes Island in Cebu last July, which was implemented in partnership with Rare Philippines, an international non-profit organization focused on marine biodiversity conservation.

More than 570 families and fisherfolks from the coastal municipalities in Camotes Island in Cebu received water-resistant solar lamps which can be used as a headlamp for fishing – the main livelihood of the residents in the area.

More than 570 families and fisherfolks from the coastal municipalities of San Francisco, Tudela, Poro, and Pilar, likewise received water-resistant solar lamps that came with a strap, which can be used as a headlamp for fishing — the main livelihood of the residents in the area.

In its most recent leg, OMF partnered with Xavier Science Foundation, Inc. (XSF) to distribute more than 700 solar lamps in ten barangays in municipalities of Pangantucan, Maramag, and Valencia in Bukidnon, benefitting indigenous groups such as the Manobo and the Talaandig. XSF is a non-stock, non-profit, non-government organization focused on supporting initiatives that address poverty alleviation & social empowerment.

Also sharing OMF’s mission and passion to bring electricity to the underserved is One Million Lights Philippines (OML), a nationally awarded, youth-led, non-profit organization focusing on improving the quality of life of Filipinos through better lighting, alongside with local government units, and community organizations.

One of the recent engagements of OMF’s School Electrification Program was with the local government of Bohol as they energized four off-grid island schools in the municipalities of Getafe and Bien Unido.


In 2011, OMF launched its School Electrification Program, which focuses on energizing schools located in off-grid communities. It has become the foundation’s second biggest focus program next to its household electrification.

One of its recent engagements was with the local government of Bohol. The foundation energized four off-grid island schools in the municipalities of Getafe and Bien Unido.

Pandanon Elementary School, Nasingin Elementary School, Banacon Elementary School, and Sagasa Elementary School were all energized through an installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) system with a capacity of one (1) kilowatt peak (kWp) per school.

These solar PV systems can generate enough power for lighting, ventilation, and operation of learning equipment such as desktop computers or laptops, and printers, which teachers and students can use in performing class activities.

Aside from energizing the schools, OMF also turned-over multimedia equipment including one 43” LED TV, a laptop, and a printer scanner — an initiative funded by Meralco employees through the Meralco Employees fund for Charity, Inc. (MEFCI), an organization comprising employees that voluntarily contribute part of their salaries to the foundation.

These initiatives have been proven very beneficial for schools especially when alternative ways of learning had to be adopted and implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to electric service and various learning equipment helped teachers address challenges such as traveling for hours via boat from the school to the mainland just to print learning materials, create and submit reports, charge their personal laptops and other teaching gadgets. Needless to say, these challenges also turn to risk during rainy days when teachers have to brave big waves while riding a passenger boat to and from the school.

During a recent turnover ceremony held in Pandanon Elementary School, Congresswoman Maria Vanessa Cadorna-Aumentado of the Second District of Bohol expressed her gratitude for OMF.

“We have 35 island barangays (in the Second District of Bohol), marami talaga ang nangangailangan ng tulong niyo (One Meralco), maraming salamat for choosing (our) district (at) ang buong probinsya ng Bohol, you will be part of the success na makakamit ng mga kabataan,” Cadorna-Aumentado said.

“Quality education ay isa sa mga rason na sila (ang mga kabataan) ay maiahon sa kahirapan. We will not forget this; we are honored and grateful to have you. Tatatak na ito sa mga puso ng mga Bohol-anons” she added.

OMF has so far installed up to 3-kWp of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in 285 public schools throughout the Philippines, 18 of which are in Bohol. In the province alone, OMF’s school electrification program has served more than 6,000 students and at least 200 teachers from the municipalities of Getafe, Bien Unido, Talibon, Buenavista, Inabangga, and President Carlos P. Garcia. OMF was also able to energize three additional schools from the aforementioned municipalities in September 2022.

Several similar initiatives under OMF’s school electrification program are set to take place in the provinces of Iloilo and Camarines Norte within the year.


OMF’s electrification program has also extended to reach indigenous communities. One of the communities that benefitted from the program are the T’bolis in South Cotabato. Aside from having access to electricity, women of this indigenous group were also able to preserve one of their traditions, which also serves as their main livelihood.

T’boli women in Brgy. Klubi, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato create T’nalak, a handwoven fabric made from home-grown abaca fiber, through the wee hours of the night until dawn as a tradition. Its colorful and intricate patterns are said to be inspired by the dreams of the weaver, earning for the T’bolis the moniker “dreamweavers.”

Through the advocacy efforts of Lake Sebu Indigenous Women Weavers Association, Inc. (LASIWWAI), and its President, Jenita Eko, the domestic and international demand for T’nalak has begun to increase. This empowered T’boli women as their role in the family changed from just caring for the children at home to becoming the family’s breadwinner, earning more than their husband farmers.

A three-meter long t’nalak sells for PhP 3,500. In a month, T’boli women weavers would earn around PhP 2,000 to PhP 3,000. While families have started earning more from weaving T’nalak, access to grid power remains as a challenge therefore limiting the livelihood’s progression.

OMF provided solar-powered home lighting kits to T’boli families last year to help them maximize the potential of their livelihood.

To help T’boli women weavers maximize the potential of their livelihood, OMF provided solar-powered home lighting kits to 36 T’boli families last year. The kit included a solar panel, three LED lights, and a lithium battery with a capacity that can sustain illumination for 12 straight hours. It is also portable and can easily be stored during typhoon or torrential rainfall.

OMF also installed and energized a 1.2-kWp solar photovoltaic system in a livelihood center in Lamitan, Basilan. The Yakan Weaving Center was envisioned to be a marketplace for the Yakan people’s indigenous fabric, and a place to train the next generation of women weavers.

It is not enough that majority of the country’s population has access to electricity. Meralco and OMF, as advocates of sustainability, believe that achieving inclusive and sustainable growth requires collective effort. The company will continue to work hand in hand with the government and other members of the private sector in ensuring that every Filipino, especially those residing in the farthest barangays, will eventually have access to electricity, and will also be given the opportunity to grow and prosper alongside the country’s major cities.

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