Harnessing the sun in Calauan

Nov 10, 2017

From orange homes to orange pedicabs, now ING brightens liveswith orange lamps
ING lights up 100 homes with solar lamps and solar panels

At the Bayanijuan Sa Southville 7, a relocation site in Calauan, Laguna that houses some of the survivors of Super Typhoon Ondoy, residents have managed to eke out a decent livelihood, including operating pedicabs, raising ducks, and selling homemade fruit jams. While electricity is available, for many residents it remains out of reach.

“Sometimes when sales are not good, we fail to pay the electricitybill. My daughter ends up going out on the street where there is light just to do her homework at night. As a mother, I don’t feel at ease,” says 50-year-old resident Anita. 

And then there was light

Last September 2, residents’ hopes turned bright when staff volunteers from Dutch financial giant ING Bank and its shared services hub, ING Business Shared Services (IBSS), distributed free orange-colored solar lamps with matching orange solar panels to 100 families on Southville 7. Two weeks earlier, 57 staff volunteers gathered at the IBSS office in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City to attend a workshop on assembling solar lamps.

The push towards using renewable energy in sponsored communities in the Philippines is part of ING Bank’s global commitment to promote clean and sustainable energy use and production. In 2016, over 58% of the Dutch bank’s project financing and other lending went to renewable energy projects such as wind, solar, water, and geothermal power.

“Companies like ING can be powerful in helping to bring the use of clean energy to the fore,” says Iliac Diaz, social entrepreneur and founder of non-government organization Liter of Light, which is already operating in 30 nations since it was organized in 2013 in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda. Liter of Light recently lit up two remote villages in India and is poised to have served one million homes by 2018. 

Staff from Liter of Light showed ING and IBSS volunteers how to use recycled plastic bottles and locally sourced materials to create solar lamps to illuminate homes, streets, and businesses. The solar lamp design is based on the traditional Filipino gas lamp (locally known as “gasera”), plugged into a small solar panel that harnesses natural energy from the sun. 

For about P1,500 per set, a recipient family could enjoy the solar lamp for 13 to 14 hours with only 3 hours of battery charging time. Every lamp is expected to last for five years and is deemed a saferand more environment- friendly alternative to using mere gas lamps in homes. 

“You cannot just import (solar product) materials and incur up to 60% of costs. The cost of repair and replacement of many solar lamps is also staggering, and people seek microcredit and get trapped in the same debt cycle every time it breaks,” says Diaz. 

Orange is the new black

Some of the beneficiaries of the orange solar lamps and orange solar panels reside in a portion of Southville 7 where the ING Village is situated. Here, the residents used to be informal settlers along the Pasig River who were ravaged by Super Typhoon Ondoyin 2009 and were subsequently relocated to the Calauancommunity, projected as a model for post-disaster management sites in the country. 

It is no coincidence that the residents here drive orange pedicabsfor livelihood and now use orange solar lamps to light up their orange homes. Orange is the national color of the Netherlands — where ING is headquartered. 

“We always strive to maximize our existing partnership in Calauan, Baseco, and elsewhere. This mission to sustainably light up the Calauan community with solar lamps came from the staff who saw it on social media,” explains Andrew Gorriceta, head of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of IBSS. 

The young workforce of IBSS, with an average age of 26.5 years old, is also getting involved in other environmental outreach initiatives that include a coastal cleanup in Las Piñas and Parañaque cities, and a mangrove and artificial reef planting in Lobo, Batangas. 
ING Bank, recently named “Best Bank in the World” by Global Finance magazine, has introduced programs that provide shelter, promote access to education, help protect the environment, and generate livelihood opportunities through its social responsibility arm, ING Foundation. These initiatives are largely buoyed by fundraising efforts and employee volunteerism worldwide. 


Staff volunteers from ING Bank in Manila and ING Business Shared Services during the turnover of the orange solar lamps to 100 families in Bayanijuan Sa Southville 7, Calauan, Laguna.