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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 in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.


  1. Why was there no public announcement of the meeting? No posters, no banners... I don't even know if it was on the radio. I certainly didn't hear about it. A lot of other people only heard about it after the fact. How can people attend a meeting when there's no public announcement of the meeting? Was the information disseminated purely by word of mouth?

  2. Oh my dear, sorry to hear that you did not know about the consultation. I learned about it from my close friends in Sagada. More than 100 people were there during the consultations. Some claimed to have been uninvited but they still came because they just wanted to be involved. Would you mind divulging your real identity so that I could inform you when I learn about the next consultation?

  3. Sorry to say that it was not a public consultation. It was only a meeting of Chairman Bomas-ang with the elders and leaders of Sagada and Besao. Consultation was done couple of months ago. Maybe you should attend the Second General Assembly of the Free Prior and Informed Consent to be conducted by the NCIP. That is to be done on April 1-10,2013 per barangay and ili. Please be there whatever barangay or ili you belong to.

  4. Why should anyone have to be invited or specially notified? Isn't it the responsibility of the company to inform the people of their meetings? And why should any meeting on a matter of public concern be held by invitation only?

    Thank you for the pictures, though. They can remind us of what one of Sagada's most serene and beautiful places looked like before the bulldozers arrive to rip it apart. But who cares about nature when there's money to be made, no? And they are even offering a few crumbs from the feast of profit they will earn! We should beg them to come!

  5. hello, i happen to be one person with a "pitiful sick mind" a mind that "sits in the corner" or what you refer to as "leftists" because I oppose the Sagada-Besao wind farm. I too did research and attended consultations since last year. Based on the EPIRA and REA (laws by Phil Gov't on Energy which you may access through the net) huge PROFITS are guaranteed renewable energy businesses among them but not limited to: tax free income tax, duty free imports, carbon credits and yes Feed-in-tariffs of Php8.53 plus of course income from generation charges. The same laws say 1% royalty from gross income will go to gov't. Of which 60% for national government and 40% for local gov't units (40% will go to Province, 35% to municipalities and 25% to host barangay LGUs). I have not seen any payments to "people". Since the law also says that all sources of renewable energy belong to the state. Is this just? Second, in the May 2012 consultation in Bangaan which I attended, president of Philcarbon Ruth Yu-Owen replied, when asked if Electricity for Sagada-Besao will be free or decrease, said "NO! In fact it will increase. But we should also sacrifice for national good". As an ordinary person with limited incomes, I definitely disagree to an increase in my already huge electric bill "for the benefit of the national good" while businesses like Philcarbon rake in loads of cash. Nor will I agree to a project that may jeopardize a watershed and water source for Sagada which is already in a chronic WATER CRISIS. Of course you said its not true. But what if it is? Who pays the price of the gamble? Us, who get our water from Pilaw-Langsayan area. In my research also I have seen videos by Discovery channel of windmills exploding and toppling over. As if "state of the art windmills" are not subject to mechanical error. Even if the incidents of accidents are rare, the hazard it poses to communities when they happen are huge. But let us debate and surface issues and concerns and not act like PR persons for "heroes" and "most respective persons". After all the people of Sagada and Besao will decide. And the decision I hope will be an educated/informed decision not a sentimental one based on a pretty face, or pogi points for good deeds in the past. The issue at bay merits a closer look at the issue and its effects for the next generations. In this case, I have to agree that the "pitiful sick minds", "minds that sit in the corner" and "leftists" are right.

  6. Auntie gwen, i think you forgot that it is still a proposed project. How come a company will pay if the project has not yet been implemented. I don't feel like accepting that you are one of those rudely described people because you are an enlightened one. We always point out "what if"...but do not consider "what if it WON'T". Truly, after all it is us who will decide if we allow PhilCarbon or not. Yes there are issues that we need to settle with PhilCarbon. All we need to do is to suggest them alternative if we think they are not doing their part so both the company and the communities' interests would meet- if such project advances. As Mr. Brez has pointed out, the second consultation will be conducted this April.

  7. Thanks Christian. Yes, let us continue surfacing issues. I do agree about looking into the "what if it won't" only if the consequences are not dire - like at least 50 tons of metal (a wind turbine will weigh some 242 tons of metal) shrapnel flying across the vicinity or precious water lost to hundreds of families and commercial establishments. If the consequences are not bad and the benefits for the people today and next generations outweigh all the negative effects then definitely people will go for the project. Just to point out, the second assembly for the FPIC to be conducted by the NCIP is at HOLD. This was decided on during the Central Barangay 1st assembly held last Feb 12 at St. Joe. Because boundary conflicts between Besao-Sagada in the proposed site and conflicts in boundary between Poblacion and Madongo of Sagada have to be settled first. So the FPIC second assembly shall be scheduled only after these concerns on boundary are made. Siya met nan kanan Engr. Magwelang of the NCIP. Meanwhile, let pros and cons on the matter surface, Ok?

  8. Very nice, people! Let us work hand in hand to address all these issues to have a better understanding of what it is to bring to the people of Sagada and Besao. Good Luck guys! Let's participate! Take Action!

  9. truly, our participation is needed ............

  10. What does that even mean Christian? "Our participation" - you don't even live in Sagada or Besao, so you would not have to live with the consequences.

    You blindly believe everything your "hero" Bomas-ang says. Bomas-ang also does not live in Besao or Sagada, nor would he. The people most passionate about this project are the ones who are old and/or will die soon -- or the people who will not live their lives in the province - like you, correct?

    Bomasang has been preaching to schools at an early age, this project has been premeditated for years.

    Had you done serious and real research, you would know Philcarbon has 0 (absolutely none) experience in ever building a wind turbine. Would you want someone to construct your house who has never built a house before?

    If the majority of the people in Sagada/Besao do not want a wind turbine, what would the people have to say or do for Philcarbon to stop shoving this down the people's throats?

    They keep spewing empty rhetoric of being "here to help" and "keep an open mind." Sorry, our minds are not open enough where our brains have fallen out. And the people of Sagada/Besao never asked for "help". And what does that mean? Help how? To have foreign owned companies "help" destroy the mountain and water sources / trees -- so they can make a LOT of money on the resources of the towns people?

    Think. Please. Deny ignorance.

  11. Oh come one, you are trying to advertise your ignorance here. If you don't believe in what I'm saying on my blog, get your own space. Get a life! Not at the expense of my website, Coward!

  12. Ok, let's do some math. First read on what the FIT (feed in tariff) means, and how it applies to Philcarbon / Sagada Besao Wind power corp.
    (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feed-in_tariff)

    So now let's say the FIT rate for wind is currently (last known) to be PhP8.53/kWh.
    (source: http://wwf.org.ph/wwf3/climate/article/62)

    Ok, so let's say this wind project is generating 15mw per month.

    15,000kw (15mw) x 8.53 (php/rate) X 24 (hours) (the rate sold to the Napocor per FIT standards)

    Assuming the turbines are always on, and you're welcome to research and correct my math -- that means the company(s) stand to earn Php 3,070,800.00 -- EACH MONTH. TAX FREE.

    Then you can add the projected carbon credits earned per year and how much extra the company(s) will earn.

    Philcarbon projects they will earn 21,395 carbon credits per year.
    (source: http://www.philcarbon.com/projects/15mw-sagada-besao-wind-power-project.html)

    Now with the current rate of 3 euros per carbon credit, let's do some more math.
    (source: http://www.nordis.net/?p=14550)

    21395 x 3 = 64185 euros, tax free, per year. That is, at the current exchange rate: 3377202.00 php per year extra.

    So to continue more math, how much annual revenue does Philcarbon/Sagada Besao Wind power corp stand make?

    3,070,800.00 x 12 (power generation)=

    36849600.00 Php/year (power generation)
    3377202.00 Php/year (carbon credits)

    40,226,802.00 Php (estimated) per year revenue.

    Now that's just my estimate based on research, I would love to see your argument and math / sources to back it up.

    As a question for you and everyone else, what does the LGU / average person stand to gain from this project per month and per year?

    You ask for comments. Do you mean only comments you agree with?

  13. So you have made your calculation for me to argue? I'm not like you. Have I ever showed the world a calculation that you think does not match to yours. And please reveal who you are. Do not use different usernames to express your mind, then track my posts and attack them. Don't be a coward. Get a life!

  14. Regarding the meeting referenced above, which was described as "not a public consultation", may I remind you that NPIC guidelines on the FPIC process specifically prohibit:

    "Clandestine or surreptitious negotiations with IP individuals, some members of the community concerned or leaders done, without the knowledge of the council of elders, leaders or majority of members of the community".

    Holding a meeting that is not generally announced and accessible to the public is a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the FPIC guidelines.


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