Mayor Ortega fights to bring light to his village

Mayor Alfredo Ortega Jr — Villa Cervesa & Pamuwisan Community, Mindoro Island, Philippines

Mayor Alfredo Ortega Jr fights for the Philippines Department of Energy to bring electricity to his village. Although there is power nearby, approximately 4,000 families of Villa Cervesa remain in the dark.

“I was nervous the first time I visited the capital,” he says, referring to the first of 15 visits he made to the DOE in Manila, in his 5 years as mayor. With his strong stance and confident voice, it is hard to imagine Mayor Ortega feeling nervous. “I had worked so hard on my proposal.”

The trek from Mindoro Island to the capital takes a full day each direction. After years of meetings, the DOE has promised electricity in 2014. This result is impressive, yet as Ortega spoke, his eyes showed a combination of joy and disappointment – the electrification will only reach villagers in the main areas of town. Native Mangyan families in the hillsides, who are included in his responsibilities as mayor, will remain unelectrified.

To brighten these native communities overlooked by the government, One Million Lights Philippines teamed up with Mayor Ortega to bring solar lights to two Mangyan settlements. They may not see grid electricity in the years to come, but they are free of the burden of kerosene today.