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Bangui Trip Informs Sagada and Besao Elders

PRESS RELEASE- As part of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, an information gathering trip to the Northwind Bangui Bay  took place last March 17-18, 2013. The trip aimed to familiarise the FPIC team and the elders of Besao and Sagada with wind farms as well as experiencing wind power in practice.

Michael Doyog, an elder from Fidelisan Sagada, mentioned that …. “when one leans on the wind turbine, you can hear the sound it emits but when you stand away, the sound disappears”. James Gaongen, an elder from Demang, Sagada, added…. “I don’t hear the wind turbine, only the waves of the sea, the breeze from the mountains and the rustling leaves and the wind blowing through the trees”. Doyog also said…. “I couldn’t feel any vibrations from the turbine”.

Gaongen explained that windmills were not new to the area. There were similar things in Sagada before which the elders call the ‘guliweng’. They were made of G.I. sheets and turned just like a windmill atop the Dap-ays. In the old days Sagada elders would celebrate the ‘guliweng.’

During a discussion with Niels Jacobsen, President and CEO of Northwind Power Development Corp, lots of questions were raised by the Besao and Sagada elders which were all carefully answered with detailed explanations.

Rover Sumingwa, an elder from Agawa, Besao, was concerned about the wind turbines and their effect on water supply……. “With the turbines, there are doubts about the safety of the water supply. In our place, the proposed turbine site, is the source of water for many villages and the watersheds must be protected” Sumingwa expressed.

Jacobsen explained ….. “There’s absolutely no threat to water supply from wind turbines. Think about it for a minute; you can see that the turbine isn’t connected to water. It’s not consuming water or obstructing the flow. Erecting turbines in the mountains is the same thing. Zero impact on water supply. The turbines are not connected to the water supply at all”.

Jacobsen further stressed. “The turbines aren’t sucking out water or for that matter blocking the ground water. So if you’re asking me, that shouldn’t be a concern”.

He reiterated that the turbines do not affect the water table and that it’s just like building a house on top of a mountain.

Engineer Rufino Bomas-ang, non-executive Chairman of PhilCarbon and a native of Besao understood and supported the people’s concerns about protecting and preserving watersheds. “It’s so important and hopefully, with the presence of PhilCarbon, we can work with the community to plant more ‘sakti’ to hold water. We are here to work with the community” Bomas-ang emphasized.

Bomas-ang went on to suggest that when the memorandum of agreement is ready to be drafted, it could include fences to protect the watershed areas and support for schools to become Centers for Renewable Energy and Environmental Protection. He further stressed that putting up a wind farm atop the Pilao-Langsayan Ridge as a substitute for fossil fuels would make a significant contribution to environmental sustainability in the area. At the same time solid-waste management projects, not just in Pilao but in Sagada and Besao, could be started. “For these exciting initiatives, we need your help and we can work together”.

Jacobsen explained that wind farms in mountains pose a different challenge to the wind farm the elders had just seen along the seashore. “ Most wind farms in the world are on mountain ridges to get as much power from the wind as possible”.

Vic Allan Gaces, Barangay Chairman of Baruyen, Bangui stressed that there is no radiation from the windmills. He also said the windmills had put Baruyen on the map and the local economy had expanded, particularly souvenir shops with  almost 50 percent of the souvenirs being made in the barangay.

Jerome Fabi, Municipal Tourism Officer of Bangui attested to how the economy of the town had boomed and had helped the people living nearby. He said jokingly “ in fact, if it were up to us, we don’t want other windfarm to be built elsewhere, so people will just come to Bangui as it is a big tourism attraction and income generation for us here.”

Gaces stressed that there are no known problems between the animals, crops and wind farms.

“Makita yu met dagiti billit apo, dagiti tumatayab, nu kuma adda ti epekto na apo, awan kuma ti billit nga agtatayab. Kasta met iti baybay. Dagiti kunkunada nga disturbance iti baybay, awan ti disturbance. Adda dagiti payao ijay tengngan ti baybay. Agyan dagiti ikan idjayen, han da nga umay iti igid ti baybay. Ken seasonal laeng iti ikan”.  Gaces further stressed.

James Gaongen, Sagada elder said ….. “Awan met gayyam ti kasla nga epekto na iti mulmula nga dagitoy. Awan met ti asiti unnu gasolina na dagitoy nu di ket angin met ti mangpa-anandar.”

An elder of Kin-iway, Besao, who wished his name withheld, wondered. “Adda metlang met ti balbalay gayam ken mabalin ag-garden idtoy ayan ti wind farm. Awan pay mangngeg ko nga uni ti turbina. Apay ayan na gayam ti kunkunada nga madi nga epekto na dagitoy wind mill?”

Ruth Yu-Owen, PhilCarbon President, encouraged the elders to keep an open mind and to work with them to generate sustainable communities in Sagada and Besao.

Gaongen supported Yu- Owen’s call to keep an open mind. He stressed in the local dialect that people often see the same thing in different ways and what is needed is clarification and more information. According to Gaongen, the elders have now experienced wind farms first hand and will be able to give a true and accurate picture to the people back home.

“Uray siyak. Hanak kayat nga aglanglangsot. Hanak kayat nga ilanglangsotan ti anak ko. Hanak kayat nga ilanglangsotan ti apok. Diyay ustu nga nakitak nga nasayaat, isu ti maibagak iti anak ko ken jay apok”. Gaongen further stressed.

Yu-Owen explained to the elders “You will be producing the cleanest source of power in the country, you will be hosting this and will become respected nationally”.

Engineer Dino Tiatco, Northwind Plant Manager, stressed…… “power from wind farms is always a better alternative than today’s other technologies. I hope you’ll support the Sagada Besao project. Your support will not only benefit the province but the effect will be worldwide. You will be mitigating the deterioration of our environment and at the end of the day it will be our children and our children’s children who will reap the ultimate benefits.”

On the way home from Bangui, Besao elders as well as those of Sagada, talked among themselves on how they could help in informing and educating their families, relatives, neighbors and friends concerning what they have experienced, learned and seen first-hand.

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. Wow. I really suggest you read the FPIC process and become familiar with it, before stating things that are in violation of FPIC guidelines. This article is so full of misinformation/disinformation I don't know where to start, except from the beginning. So this comment may be long...

    1. Is this part of the FPIC process? Inviting only certain people to the windfarm, like elders and other influential people? Who are the members of the FPIC team? Isn't it supposed to be the whole community? I don't remember being any "official" first assembly, nor any 2 elders selected at the "first assembly" - I was there.

    Please read Section 65 in the FPIC and also Section 7. Spot the violations.

    2. Were the "guliweng" of past over 100 meters tall?

    3. Do you understand how people get water in Sagada? Obviously Niels Jacobsen does not understand, but you should. The water Sagada enjoys is coming from the pine trees on the mountain ridges.

    The pine tree needles condensate the fog passing through the trees. This then gets heavy enough to form water droplets which drop to the floor below. The water continues to collect and attract to each other as it flows down the mountain through the paths of least resistance, to people's water source for drinking.

    There is an absolute threat to water supplies when the tops of the Pilao Langsayen ridge is cleared of its trees... I thought every indigenous person understands this.

    4. Why do Philcarbon reps. insist that Sagada/Besao will become a self sustainable community? Sagada/Besao will not get free electricity. The electricity will be sold to the national power grid and then sold at the same rates, if not higher, to the host community who will enjoy a destroyed habitat for the Tagalogs to have more energy on the back of the Igorots.

    5. Should an ECC have been completed before or after the FPIC process is complete? Have the people ever been informed directly that the FPIC process has started? Where are all of the documents that the proponent should provide to the public as per section 7 of the FPIC guidelines?

    6. If mountains are the best places for wind, why not choose a mountain range with easier access to transport the wind turbines than Sagada/Besao?

  2. There's a lot of pure ignorance expressed here, notably on watershed impact. Any major industrial project in a critical watershed area has a significant impact on water absorption and retention. It's not a function of wind turbines per se, it goes along with large scale excavation and clearing no matter what the purpose. Any time you engage in large scale excavation and clearing in watersheds you affect the absorption/retention capacity of watershed and risk direct contamination via fuel/lubricant spills, human waste left by workers, concrete leaching etc. Any time you engage in large scale excavation and clearing along steep slopes you have to consider the probability of elevated landslide risk. That's true whether you're building wind turbines or houses. The problem is not with "wind turbines" per se, the problem is with industrial-scale construction in a site that is not suited for industrial-scale construction.

    One comment I heard from someone who went on a Bangui trip is that the people in the villages closest to the windmills still seem quite poor and there's no evidence that they are getting any direct economic benefit from the project. That should be no surprise. Rentier income is typically captured by elites and is more likely to be a source of elite competition than of community benefit. There's a reason why support for the Sagada/Besao project is strongest among the socioeconomic elite: they expect a piece of the action.

  3. This says here march 2013, but exactyly the same article and pictures used here were from last year's field trip to Bangui, an article by Philcarbon that was released last year on theor website but unfortunately was taken down. The only remnant of that is this link via Google would lead you to this: http://www.philcarbon.com/news/familiarization-with-wind-farms.html

    I am guessing, it is because the FPIC process is put in question again. But this is utterly preposterous.

  4. Thanks for that catch, no to bs windfarm. Thankfully (and also a bit scary to know), is that everything put on the internet is stored somewhere. In this case, the Philcarbon page you mentioned about the possibly "clandestine" meeting, would be here:


    This is the quote of the article:

    Familiarization with Wind Farms
    April 25, 2012

    BANGUI, ILOCOS NORTE - The people from Sagada and Besao, had an educational tour to provide the host communities a better understanding of the operation and management of a wind farm in line with the proposed 15MW Sagada-Besao Wind Power Project. The, Bangui Wind Farm, composed of 20 wind turbines, each of them soaring high the equivalent of a 23-story building – planted in a row along the shore of Bangui Bay and its the first in Southeast Asia.

    The orientation was done by no less than the President & CEO of Northwind Power Development Mr. Niels Jacobsen right under one of the wind mills. He discussed the project history, benefits and other acquisitions that can be derived from the said project."

    If the NPIC were concerned to fully investigate this activity, if it is true, they should just have to ask some elders, the company/proponent, and also Mr. Niels Jacobsen to know if this meeting did exist. Though these meetings still go on today, everyone knows this.

    The proponent is not giving the same tour/opportunity to visit Bangui to every person in Sagada/Besao are they? They should, that's a start.

  5. Christian, I have news that you will think is great. The DENR approved of the Wind Turbine project in November 29 of 2012. This is when they released the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

    This means that the company went ahead and got government approval well in advance before any NCIP / FPIC process was ever completed. Also, this means that the ECC was approved BEFORE they even put up the meteorological tower. This is before anyone got to see any information about any environmental exam findings.

    Thanks for selling out your people. If you want the link, google "sagada ecc" and look for scribd.com... Thanks for continuing to make these articles selling out your roots. I hope you're getting paid enough from the company to live like they will when this project is complete.

  6. Unfortunately, roots is what he only has left. This ECC is completely outrageous. The more the process will be questioned.


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