The Hydro Electric Plant in Mafran

This was the first day in the month of May in the village of Mafran looking at the side where the hydro will be build. The local government officers were invited, I was thinking it is good for them and the people to think that they own the project.

The sand for building the tank for the hydro, and cementing the pipe and other cement works was being brought up by horses from a river two or three kilometers away. The elevation also is quite steep from the river to the hydro side.

The day of the field trip of the students from the Mafran Elementary School to the Hydro site. Engineer Nick Govind in the green T-Shirt explaining the Hydro to the children. The Children also did a little work, again for them to own the project and Nick stressed that point, "Children this hydro belongs to you, you own this hydro"

The children, the future and the Community and the Church.

The Archbishop of Cotabato, Orlando Quevedo OMI DD, during his pastoral visitation, visited Timanan. This was the time Nick was painting the two turbines for Itaw and Mafran. We found out the the Archbishop is a professional painter. He put the finishing touches to the turbines. We thank you Archbishop for visiting us. The two turbines were being built and fabricated in Cotabato City by Engineer Nick himself. It is indeed a blessing for Timanan to have Nick with us.

Fr. Aliki Langi,sm

Blessing of the Mini Hydro Electric Plant in the village of Mafran.

September 30th was the Blessing of the Mini Hydro 2 kva in the village of Mafran and also was the celebration of their Patronal Fiesta, San Roque. Fr. Long was the main celebrant for the fiesta mass, followed by baptism, before everyone made their way to the hydro side a kilometer away.

The blessing was again lead by Fr. Long and Pastor Roger of the Grace Gospel Church. The cutting of the ribbon was done by Fr. Long, Dr., Ruby Simon, Mr. Roberto De Lara and Mrs. Weng Govind, (the wife of Engr., Nick Govind who designed and built the hydro).

Two Municipal Councilors were present, plus a few Barangay Captains, and officials, graced the occasion. After the brief program, the Children from Mafran Elementary School rendered a native dance, highlighting  water and electric power. The item of the Grace Gospel Church, the Youth had a radio advertisement, advertising the Hydro Electric of Mafran. Talked about initiative and creativity, good on them. The Grace Church were there, very active from the beginning of the building of the Hydro to the end.

From the Hydro, the crowd were heading back to the chapel, where lunch was served. Well before lunch, midmorning, the Medical Mission Team, Dr. Ruby, Reynan and the team were well underway, treating patients from the surrounding villages. Thank you so much Dr. Ruby Simon for your generosity in rendering your time and service.

Fr. Long with the help of the Kotabato Council for Justice & Peace are working together with the two newly created co-operatives in both Mafran and Itaw. The role of the two cooperatives in both places, is to manage and to sustain the hydro project.

Again, we sincerely thank those who funded this project; The Kutawato Council for Justice and Peace, Marist Mission Center Sydney Australia, the Catholic University Ireland, Mr and Mrs., Reggie Hockenberry (U.S.A). Thank you, Engr., Nick Govind, and the people of the village of Mafran.

Fr.Aliki Langi,sm

Inauguration of the Mini Hydro Electric Plant in the Barangay of Itaw – 29 September 2009.

Tuesday 29th of September, a day will go in history in this village, the blessing of its 10 KVA Mini Hydro Electric Plant. The day before, there was a medical mission carried out by Doctor Ruby Simon, assisted by the village health workers, Mrs Lobes Collado and Mrs. Weng Manindo, Fr. Long, Reynan, together with Miss Carmen Virgara and Miss Erika who came from Davao were also part of the medical team.

The fiesta mass was at 9 o’clock in the morning of Tuesday, celebrated by Fr. Long. After the mass, everyone was heading towards the side of the hydro, 800 meters away from the chapel. The Mayor, Hon. Abdullah Bets Campong, and the Vice Mayor Maria Sargan and three Municipal Councilors were present.

Before midday with the arrival of the visitors from Cotabato City, Dr. Jong Lao, Stanley Cang, George Bartolabac and Edwin Villador, the blessing was underway. Fr. Long and Pastor Roger lead the prayers, and the cutting of the ribbon by Mayor Campong and Vice Mayor Maria Sargan, Engr Nick Govind, Barangay Julie Blanco and Fr. Aliki. Indeed, what a moving moment to witness a hydro electric plant in this remote area.

From the hydro side, the crowd were heading back for the blessing and the turn-over of a solar dryer and a bodega, funded by the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Social Fund(ARMMSF) Four representatives from ARMMSF were present for the occasion.

Lunch was served followed by speeches and entertainments. By two o’clock in the afternoon, visitors were moving already, going home. The medical team were on their bikes and about 8 horses going to the Village of Mafran 15 kilometers away, for another medical mission and the blessing the Mafran hydro the next day, September 30.

The funding of this project; thanks to the Australian Embassy (Manila), Kutawato Council for Justice and Peace  (KCJP) for facilitating the transfer of he funds, Catholic University School Ireland, Marist Mission Center, Australia, Mr. Reggie Hockenberry(U.S), the Barangay of Itaw. Many thanks to Engr., Nick Govind who designed and supervised the project.

Fr. Aliki Langi,sm

The Story of a Mountain Parish

The Archdiocese of Cotabato has a population of 1.5 million people living in three provinces: Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato. Of the population, 48% is Catholic and 47% is Muslim. The rest belong to the other religions and to the Indigenous Peoples. It is estimated that 60% of families live below the poverty line. This is particularly true of the Indigenous Peoples who are mostly Tedurays, Manobos, and Bilaans. These tribal people live in the mountain areas of the Archdiocese. Many Christians have settled there, too, in the last 30years. Travel and communication in these relatively remote areas are very difficult, making it even more difficult to cope with problems of sheer economic survival.

The Municipality of Timanan, South Upi, has a population of 29,000 of which 28% are Catholics.Tedurays are the main tribal people of this area; there are also the Ilongo, Cebuano, Ilocano and the Muslim people. The whole area is mountainous. Most people are farmers, tilling plots of land on the mountain sides, planting corn, root crops, and upland rice, subject to the uncertainties of weather and dependent solely on rain. The Parish, which is still regarded as a Mission Area, has been ministered by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Fathers (O.M.I) for the last forty years or so. Thanks to the Oblates for their long years of faithful and courageous service on these mountains.
June 18, 2006 was the date of the handing over of the Parish from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to the Marist Fathers.(An excerpt from the message of Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I., Archbishop of Cotabato. “Beloved People of God: today as they follow the Lord’s call, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are handing over the administration of the parish to another Marian missionary religious congregation, the Society of Mary. This event marks a new period in your parish history. Rev. Fr. Ramon Bernabe, O.M.I., the Provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, has my full authorization to hand over the parish to Rev. Fr. Larry Duffy, S.M., the District Superior of the Marist Fathers. In spirit I join you, beloved people of God, in welcoming them to the parish with open heart. May Mary, your patroness and also the patroness of the Oblates and the Marist Fathers, be always with you to be your guide and intercessor before God. With prayers and best wishes in the Lord.”
There are three of us in the community, Fr. Fernando Ingente (Filipino), Rev. Landry Cyr Avaligbe, a deacon from Benin, West Africa and myself. The parish is divided into four districts. Because of distances and the cost of communication, districts three and four, in the past years have only one Mass in every three months. It has been a one-man parish since, and I certainly take my hat off, saluting the Oblates in this regard. I for myself wouldn’t survive if I were assigned here on my own.
For Districts three and four, the motorbike will take you and when there is no more road for the motorbike, then you can either ride on a horse, or say to your feet, and now is your turn, take me. When the feet get weary, it is always a source of encouragement remembering the psalms. How beautiful are the feet of those walking on the mountain, sharing the Good News. A very common scene around here, is people walking everywhere, mainly because of financial reasons. Fernando and I wanted to give it a go; unfortunately Cyr was not feeling well, he didn’t join us. It was a six hour walk, and Fernando had to come back for another commitment, while I had to carry on for another two hours. The president of the chapel wasn’t here, and he didn’t bring the horse, because I told them I would prefer to walk. Yes, this is one of my many mistakes, as I should have asked for the horse. I had Mass 4pm in that village. Balud slept there and the next morning, thank God, two men with two horses arrived to take me to the next village. The people jokingly said to me, Father, we heard you prefer to walk? Yes, yesterday I was John Walker, today, John Rider, I would like to ride on a horse (ha ha ha). This is the life in districts three and four, and the three of us are still finding our feet.

Speaking of Integral Evangelization, and in the area of Health, there are villages where there is no medicine available whatsoever. When there is a need for medicine, they have to go by foot or by horse to the nearby village to buy, and it is already very expensive. We have bought medicine from Davao City, (the biggest city in Mindanao, eight hours from here), and made it available in the villages at a much cheaper price. Thanks to the generous benefactors who provided for this need.
In the area of Education, for example in the month of July, I said Mass in this village Kulayan for about forty families, all Tedurays. I asked them when was the last time you had Mass, they said, last December. I asked again, how many of your children are in High School? The answer was, not one. The obvious reason is finance. There is a High School, one hour away by foot. This is a challenge for us.

Inter-religious Dialogue
As you see from the first paragraph, the Archdiocese of Cotabato is 50% Muslim and 50% Christian. The Archbishop always reminds us priests of how we are to dialogue and live together with the Muslim people. I have lived in Cotabato for five years (2000 -2005) and Archbishop Quevedo assigned us Marists to a Muslim area. Fr. Kevin Stewart was also working very closely with Inter-religious Dialogue. The photo with the Muslim women was taken at the annual celebration Shariff Kabunsuan commemorating the arrival of the Muslim here in Mindanao, the Southern Philippines. I was invited to this celebration by the Director of Education here in region 12, Mrs Estrella Babano a Muslim. Even now that I am on the mountain, I make a point to come down to the city whenever there is a Muslim celebration.

Thank you, Fr. Penisimani Folaumoetu, Fr. Silito Tupou and the Tongan Communities around Australia. To all of you, for the concert, for your love and generosity, how can I forget? To the communities of Tourkley, Canberra and Brisbane I say thank you to all of you. Your kindness and support has enabled us to carry out our mission here in the Philippines. All of you are very much part of the mission here.

Thank You.
Fr. Aliki Langi sm.

2 remote Maguindanao barangays build mini-hydro plants

SOUTH UPI, Maguindanao (MindaNews/27 Aug) -- In typical bayanihan fashion, residents of two remote barangays in this mountain municipality are building mini-hydroelectric plants to provide power to their homes, church and village officials said.

Barangays Itaw and Sitio Mafran in Barangay Pillar, populated mostly by Teduray natives and Ilonggo settlers, are so far from the town center that the province-wide electric cooperative could no longer provide electricity there. People take either horses or motorcycles to get there; for those with no money to pay, the only way is to hike,
according to Fr. Aliki Langi, the parish priest.

Although set to be inaugurated on Sept. 29 (for Itaw in time for the feast of St. Michael) and 30 (for Mafran) yet, residents of Mafran have been enjoying electricity these past few days, said Fr. Lionel Mechavez, Langi's buddy in the Marist Mission South Upi. "In fact, they had a disco last Sunday," he said when interviewed at the parish Wednesday evening.
Langi, a Tongan priest, said that October last year the church wanted to do some projects for the poor people of the villages, who are mostly small-time farmers. "We asked them what they need most, and the unanimous reply was electricity," he added.

It may sound impossible considering the staggering cost of putting up power lines in the mountains populated by poor people, but residents in these villages are lucky because an Indian engineer named Nick Govind provided the technology. Govind used to live in New Zealand with his Teduray wife Wing-wing, but moved to a neighboring barangay about five years ago, Langi said.

"Govind has been running his own mini-hydro plant for four years now," the priest said.
"Govind designed the plants, even built the turbines himself in a machine shop in Cotabato City," said Mechavez.

Other hydro plants may cost millions or even billions of pesos, but the ones in South Upi cost very little.
Through the help of the Cotabato Council for Justice and Peace, the Australian Embassy donated P275,000 for both projects. Barangay Itaw donated P100,000 and the Marist Mission donated P80,000. Barangay Pillar also donated 25 kilograms of nails. Govind did not charge a fix amount for his contribution, so he receives whatever amount the church and the community would give him, Langi said.
But residents of both villages donated their labor for free since construction started last December. "Everyday, 10 to 15 people take turns working on the construction of the plant. Another set prepares lunch, snacks and coffee," Langi said.

"Even children came to help, throwing stones into the tank's foundation just so they could claim later when they grow up that they helped in building the power plant," said Renan Laurente, a lay worker in the parish.

The Itaw plant is rated at 15 kilo volt amperes (kVA) and will be capable of supplying electricity to the 200 households in the area.
Fifty houses now have electrical wirings and bulbs already installed.

"But we are still fixing a leak on the tank, and this should be ready for the Sept. 29 launch," Langi said.

The one in Mafran is only rated at 2kVA, but good enough for the 75 households in the village with the residents' simple needs, Mechavez said. In a text message sent this afternoon, he said that 30 houses have been enjoying electricity since four days ago.
Itaw barangay chairman Julie Blanco, who farms rice and corn, said he is planning to put up a small ice plant as a business.

He said he would be saving a lot of money should electricity start running in his village. 
For now, his generator consumes about three liters of diesel fuel for the three hours that he is using it almost every day to provide light for his home.

But in the mountains of South Upi, diesel costs about P50 a liter. "I expect to pay P50 to P100 a month once electricity becomes available," he said.
Barangay councilor Juanry Sangacina -- who helped mix cement, carry sacks of sand and cook lunch for the workers -- is excited to buy a television set once the hydro plant starts running. He is itching to watch ABS-CBN and GMA on a regular basis.

But while residents are excited over the mini-hydro projects, Mechavez is having headaches studying how to make operations sustainable. After all, they are starting everything from scratch, with no model to pattern their operations from.

They know they need to operate as a cooperative, the path taken by virtually all rural electric utilities in the country. But they do not have any contact yet with the National Electrification Administration, the government agency tasked for this job.

The church in South Upi, however, has little experience on cooperatives, Mechavez stressed. For three years now, the Marist Mission has helped in the organizing of a cooperative in another village, Balud. It started with a P50,000 capital -- half from the
cooperators, and half from the church's social action fund. It has been running smoothly to this day.

"But it is a consumer cooperative that involves buying and selling, which is so different from running an electric utility," Mechavez said.

Thanks to wireless Internet access from the mountains of South Upi, Mechavez is currently doing research on how to issue bills to electric consumers, how to do accounting for an electric cooperative, and how to ensure that their operations will be sustainable for the years to come. (Bobby Timonera / MindaNews)

Parish Youth Ministry (Summer Youth Camp 2009)

Summer Youth Camp is an annual event in the Parish of Timanan, South Upi Maguindanao.  SYC is one of the most exciting activities for the youth in the Parish. A total of 198 young people have participated in the four day SYC’09. These young people came from the different chapels of the Parish. The venue for this year was held in a small village in Mafran, about 50 kms from the Parish.

The aim of the SYC is to bring together the young people to create a community where there is time and space for reflection, sharing ideas and essential experience, as well as allowing time for fun. The theme for this year Youth: Instruments for Peace & Dialogue. This theme serves us through the camp in a practical and spiritual way where inputs, workshops and group discussions and team building activities took place. During the camp there were sports and pilgrim walk (Walk for Peace) and talents shows like singing dancing and drama.
Fr. Aliki Langi, sm Parish Priest of  Our Lady of Salvation Parish, presided the mass on the last day of the camp. He encourages the young people of our Parish to promote peace when they return to their respective communities.

 Thanks to the many people who helped us in many ways especially our parishioners in District 4 who worked very hard in preparing the venue. Our Seminarian (Dindo) & former Marist Seminarians (Jun, Alvin, Jano & Randy) who came from Davao as our facilitators, thanks to the Partners in Marist Mission-Davao (PIMM) for their financial support and to the community of Blesssed Sacrament Seniors of New Jersey, USA for their religious stuffs and school supplies that the gave to us, many thanks.
No words can express how very, very grateful we are for all your support and service. You are part of our Marist Mission in Timanan South Upi, Maguindanao Philippines. A great big thank you to all of you.

Fr. Long,sm