Aisa’s lamp and the awful power sector situation


SENATOR Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. the other day urged the government to help Filipina inventor Aisa Mijeno realize her group’s goal of mass producing its salt-water powered LED lamp invention.

Marcos made the exhortation in sadness. He observed that the Philippine government has done nothing to support Mijeno’s invention, while an American, US President Barack Obama himself, and a Chinese, the billionaire Jack Ma who founded and heads the wealthy and extremely successful internet giant Alibaba Group, had extolled our compatriot and raved about the greatness of her invention.

Mijeno, who is the chief executive officer of SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting), shared the limelight with Obama and Ma at the APEC Summit of CEOs. Obama was the moderator of the session after he gave a speech on climate change. Mijeno told the audience that her group needed funding to mass-produce the lamp.

Senator Marcos expressed his lament over this, saying, “The SALt’s invention has gained international attention and earned various awards, and it is puzzling why we have not seen any effort from the [Philippine] government to help bring this product of Filipino ingenuity to the market.”

Mijeno’s LED lamp can provide eight hours of light powered only by a solution of water and two tablespoons of salt or plain seawater. This could be a boon to remote rural folk all over the world who still do not enjoy the comfort of having electric power.

Marcos suggested that “at the very least, concerned government agencies should take the initiative of reaching out to Mijeno’s group to inform them of the assistance they could avail themselves of under RA 7459, or the Investors and Inventions Incentives Act.”

But the fact is that inventors who tried to benefit from RA 7459 have had the bitter experience of finding it very difficult to get any assistance. That is why in many of these instances, our inventors end up funded by foreigners who commercialize their profit-making inventions.

Sen. Marvos warned: “Unless we [Filipinos and our government] give them adequate support, we would always lose out to investors abroad who are ever on the lookout for promising new products.”

Meanwhile, the patriotic scientists and inventors grouped under the association AGHAM-Scientists for the People have also made an incisive critique of the power situation in our country and Mijeno’s invention.

In a statement titled “US-Prescribed Measures Pushing Rural Communities into Darkness,” AGHAM urged the public to realize that despite US President Barack Obama’s endorsement of Engineer Aisa Mijeno’s saltwater lamp prototype, the people should take “a closer look at the United States’ role in the disappointing state of the country’s power sector.”

“While there are still questions on the technical soundness and economic viability of SALt, we should be asking a more salient question: Why do we need these lamps in the first place?” said AGHAM.

The scientists added: “According to Engr. Mijeno, she was inspired by the Kalingas, an indigenous group in the North, who have no access to social services such as electricity. The government’s move to privatize the power sector has resulted in our current paradox: our cities suffer from exorbitant electricity rates while far-flung communities dream of electric lamps.

“There is also lackluster support for community-based alternative energy sources amid a power industry that is monopolized by a few companies in partnership with foreign firms. The power sector is currently dominated by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Aboitiz Power, and the Lopez group of companies, which collectively supply about 60 percent of the country’s total electricity; SM tycoon Henry Sy with a majority stake in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, and Manuel Pangilinan’s MVP Group, which controls power distribution in Luzon through Meralco. SMC and Aboitiz Power are also part of Meralco and are currently moving to wrest control of several electric consumer cooperatives in the country.

“The current orientation of the power sector that is profit-driven and foreign-controlled is outlined in the 14-year-old Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). The EPIRA follows the template of privatization, denationalization, and deregulation aggressively pushed by the United States since the 1990s. So Obama is being two-faced when he commends Mijeno’s product while his government is actively pushing for the dismantling of social protections for social services under the deregulated and denationalized regimes of such mechanisms as the APEC, the TPP and the WTO.

“Moreover, under EPIRA, there is little room for local scientists to harness potential energy resources. Our energy technologies are imported from countries such as the US and China, and often rely on cheap but highly polluting fossil-based technologies.”

Yes, we should laud Filipino scientists and engineers like Aisa Mijeno who use their skills in directly serving the marginalized sectors of society, but the government should take steps to solve the power situation and make our country’s science and technology self-sufficient.


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  1. The Pnoy government has no concern for the good of the filipino consumer of electricity and much more on the likes of Filipino inventor Aisa Mijeno. This start from the day late CORY AQUINO assumed presidency by dictatorial power when she declared REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT and removed her VICE PRESIDENT DOY LAUREL. With vast plower unlike late PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS she ordered the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant on the advice of her Secretary Aboitiz and gave Meralco to the Lopez and she got beholden to the oligarchs. What happens next she continues to empower the oligarchs by ordering the Congress to enact PSALM. Lahat ng pahirap pinagpatuloy ni Pnoy Aquino ngayong at noon patuloy na tumataas ang bayarin natin sa koryente at tubig. Patuloy parin ang pagyaman na mga itong oligarch. Saan man larangan ng negosyo andoon ang pangalan nila. KASAMA NA RIN SILA SA FORBES LIST DOLLAR BILYONARIO. NAKA KAAWA NAMAN ANG PILIPINAS SA MGA AQUINO NILUTO SA SARILING MANTIKA. SINO NGAYONG ANG MASAMA MARCOS O AQUINO

  2. Yanie Heartbreaker on

    Interesting that you should mention the MVP group, because they are the ones who sponsor the Ideaspace Foundation which held a competition where Aisa Jimeno’s lamp won funding and support. As you pointed out, the lamp was intended to go to communities not connected to any power grid and who are hours away from any source of kerosene or batteries.
    As for the exorbitant power rates, much of this can be attributed to a cartel of generation companies who can collude and dictate prices, as proven by the all-too-convenient simultaneous breakdown of power plants during Maalampaya’s scheduled maintenance shutdown. They can dictate prices because due to their small number, we are at their mercy. Note that more than half of our power bill goes to the generation charge which distribution units like Meralco have no choice but to pay then pass on to us. While Meralco’s distribution charge remains stable, the generation charge continues to climb. Despite warnings since 2013 that there would be a power crisis in 2015, the DOE neglected the construction of sufficient power plants, strengthening the grip of the cartel.

  3. Wait..The Congressman in which District Aisa lives would be the one to initiate and source out
    financial assistance to her project. He could even communicate to Jack Ma is needed. Or better still he could alocate a portion of his Congressional fund (no more PDAF) to assist Aisa in carrying out her SALT.

  4. Ang kawalan ng supporta ng ating kasaluyang gobyerno sa ating mga tinaguriang Filipino scientists gaya ni Engr. Mijeno ay nangangahulugan na itong gobyerno ay nagsisilbi lang sa interest ng mga private power producers na mga oligarchs at hindi sa interest ng ating mga mahihirap. Gumising tayo at manindigan ngayong darating na 2016 eleksiyon upang magkaroon tayo ng gobyerno na uunahin ang kapakanan ng ating mahihirap at susuporta sa ating mga Filipino secientists gaya ni Engr. Mijeno na siyang makakatulong sa pagunlad ng ating bansa.

  5. Why I did not hear those lament from Marcos during the the time of Mr. Dingel, he who can make his car run with water instead of petrol? Why I do not hear anymore laments about the deuterium that abound in Phil deep? Our tycoons are not far sighted in strategies, they look beyond the common benefits for RP and inward look for their self gain and preservation. Philips is having to gain from Mr. Flores mind, USA Army used Mr. Garan’s invention, moreover Mr. Dingel’s creation I pressumed is now being harness in Japan, would we like Mr. Ma to amass more wealth on SALT?

    This lady Engineer pioneer of SALT may one day imigrate by invitation to Africa courtesy of PRC to propagate SALT and the benefits of employment and financials will once again elude RP. I have one invention that will benefit RP piggery but very reluctant to patent because I do not believe any backing from Gov’t I will get. I have a protoype machine that can convert inept gov’t officials and corrupt politicians into instant food for for the pigs. Very simple contraption and require minimal seed capital…I doubt BOI will consider this great tinkering of mine.

    • What are you talking about of Philips and of Mr. Flores? Those are hoax invented by Ph media who are fond of making sensationalized TSISMIS Because they know most Pinoys are very fond and believe more on tsismis ratherr than TRUTH and FACTS.. Imagine how they made a murderer FLOR cONTEMPLACION a HEROINE out of the real victim and heroine DELIA MAGA! Believe on media-invented GOLDEN ORINOLA of Pres. QUIRINO, etc. May nabago ba sa ngayon?

  6. What do we expect from a selective, elitist government of PNoy? There is no good that we can expect from this government other than their callousness to the plight of the Filipino people. This should serve as an eye-opener to all of us this coming election. Who wants to vote the Liberal Party?

  7. Ganyan naman lagi ang mga taga-gobyerno, pag wala silang makukurakot, di nila susuportahan…dami tayong magagaling na inventor na kinuha ng ibang bansa at doon nadevelop ng husto..

  8. Vic Penetrante on

    The government acts swiftly only when the money to be spent can trickle to the official’s pocket.

    • Well here is the greatest irony of them all …Marcos senior lived off the plunder he took from the public purse –His wife is still allowed to go abroad ; where no doubt she has access to more of the money that was ill gotten ,,

      It seems we the people are rewarding a dictators family–Even allowing them to stand for public office ..

      As the writer says we reward the officials who invent ways of taking monies from the public —Even letting them have a another go at it ,,

      We Have gone form” pearl of the orient”t to the “Sick man of Asia” Because we have allowed this to happen again and again ..

      When do we sat “Enough Is Enough”!..

      Yours Faithfully \
      David Meyer

  9. Scented Candle on

    Why they need to bring in other countries…those inventions should be here in our nation first. Self-sufficiency and more beneficial in our place than bringing anywhere. There are many Filipinos inventors who went for nothing. They just sold those inventions…The good platform of Mike Villanueva when he was aspirant in the Presidency way back 2004 was giving funds in different inventions of Filipinos.

    I hope whoever who wins in the election next year, he should give significance on different inventions, like the Oil Refinery of the discovered Island Spratly and Scarborough to change our nation for the better world. This may be the good start of Philippines for having a better future.

  10. Senator Bong Bong

    Great idea. Lead by example. Take some of the billions of dollars that your family has stolen from the poor and fund this project. After you have funded this project, you can help the millions of Filipinos who your family has condemned to poverty.

    Good luck with your candidacy for VP. Comedians around the world cannot wait to joke about the Philippines having a Marcos one heart beat away from the presidency.

  11. If the sea water can really produce energy for lighting then it can also produce energy for other household use. That will be good for people who wants to live off the grid. Live like 100 years ago when you don’t rely upon the system.