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Sagada- Besao Windmill Meetings with Bomas-ang: First Hand Encounter

(UPDATED) When I was in grade school, an issue about a windmill farm project near Danum Lake between Sagada and Besao became a prominent talk of the town. It was an interesting topic among us kids because of the wonderful portrayal of Holland windmills by science and travel magazines and TV shows.

Unfortunately, the issue ceased from the public mouth. I did not know why. The government then proposed the construction of a 5-star hotel in Sagada to accommodate tourists, but locals showed extreme opposition to the plan.

More than a decade after, the windmill project is back again. I have heard about it from my close friends from Sagada weeks ago. I learned that PhilCarbon (everyone’s hero Engr. Rufino Bomas-ang is the chairman of its board) is wooing locals to allow the construction of 10 wind turbines along the Pilao- Langsayan Ridge on the boundary of the two Cordilleran towns.

As a lover of new ideas and responsible entrepreneurship, I researched about windmills and wrote some blog posts to help enlighten my folks with the truth about modern windmills. I just cannot accept the fact that some people are already spreading baseless, unscientific, and irresponsible claims against the windmill project.

As an open-minded person, I know the windmill project is a big opportunity to the people of Sagada and Besao. There are things that may be sacrificed but the gains are much and incomparably bigger.

I continued with my learning and realize all the negative claims are nothing but products of a mind that sits in the corner and think that everything being done to him/her is bad. Pitiful sick mind!

Meeting in Besao

Upon learning that the meetings were already set on March 2, 2013, I tried my best to attend the session. I wanted to personally deal with PhilCarbon people and ask them my questions. I wanted to know the real thing. I wanted to be involved in the project as a concerned native of Sagada.

And so I did.

I am not like those who stay at home and use Facebook to express their support or opposition to the project. The worst is that they attack some folks who are endorsing the project, just because they do not know how to respect other people’s opinion. I was not born yesterday; these people have already closed their eyes and ears to anyone and anything.

I reached the magnificent town of Besao, an hour drive away from Sagada. People were celebrating the Ubaya Festival and everyone was smiling. People, including barangay officials and community leaders, gathered at the Besao Cooperative Multi-purpose Hall for the  meeting with Engr. Bomasa-ang.

Locals asked their town mate- their very own Bomas-ang- questions about the windmill project. They were telling him to assure that their water supply won’t get affected if the project advances. Bomas-ang told the folks that everything is under control.

Among the most memorable statements during that Besao meeting are from two men. The first man, a barangay official, said it should be the people of Besao that will woe PhilCarbon for the project. He said the project brings countless benefits so it should not be PhilCarbon that is wooing the people of Besao.

The second that blew my mind was the words from an older man who was quiet during the start of the meeting. He said Bomas-ang must be insane if the engineer would allow a foreign entity to bring hazards to his townspeople.

The man was right. Bomas-ang is known in Sagada and in Besao for being a rags-to-riches man and a genuine philanthropist. His initiative helped in reviving his alma mater St. Mary’s School. He is currently working for the construction of a building for St. James High School.

Meeting in Sagada

In Sagada, the meeting was held at St. Joseph Restaurant. More than 50 people came (almost the same number with the participants in the Besao meeting). Some of them are respected community elders while others are concerned citizens.

Bomas-ang was direct in answering questions. Undeniably, almost everyone in both towns respected him. Locals asked him if he was trying to sell the two towns to PhilCarbon. Someone from the audience came to stage and vouched for the credibility of the former undersecretary of the Department of Energy.

I love Mr. Jaime Tigan-o Dogao when he took the spotlight for a very significant comment. The community leader said that people of Sagada and Besao are intellectual for accepting good foreign entities and driving away bad entities. He mentioned about the acceptance of the Anglican Church that led to the education of thousands of Igorots, and banning CelloPhil, a logging company, that would have led to some environmental hazards.

Up Close and Personal with PhilCarbon Guys

I had the chance of meeting the people behind PhilCarbon and asked them my questions. I was also given the opportunity to get up close and personal with Bomas-ang. He even gave me a copy of his autobiography. He said I should read the book to know more about the history of the proposed windmill farm.

Ms. Ruth Yu- Owen, President of PhilCarbon, was also there. I asked her questions about the environmental threats that leftists are claiming against the project. She said the Department of Natural Resources is there to implement laws on this concern.

To understand more the project, I accompanied the PhilCarbon team to see the tower with anemometers set up in Pilao. We climbed the hill for minutes and reached the met mask that is 100-meter high. The tower was built to measure the wind output of the area, and the engineers said the wind regime was apt for a windmill farm construction in the area.

It was not noisy at all, contrary to a claim by a folk. It was producing no noise at all. Bomas-ang even showed us the Tirad Pass in the horizon. I saw the ridge, kilometers away from Sagada and from Besao, the ridge that will soon be the home of the 10 wind turbines- if my dear folks will approve the project.

I went home with high regards to all the locals who attended the meetings. They are my heroes. Whether they were invited or not, they went to the meetings to express their minds as real concerned people. They asked their questions and got answers. Now, it is time to decide whether or not the windmill project should push through or not.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner living and working in Quezon City. He is an Igorot by blood, from the peace-loving Kankanaey tribe of Mountain Province in Sagada. To get in touch, please shoot an email to [email protected]

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