SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur— The home of a tribal leader of Umayamnon tribe who was former New Peoples Army commander in the remote village of New Visayas here made it as the milestone 15th million household electricty connection in the country.
Jimmy “Datu Sumusunod” Man-anohog , said to have seven wives, has been waiting for 15 years since they settled in Purok 8 in New Visayas before the electricity reach their tribal community of 30 households.
A ceremonial swittch on of the 15th million consumer connection jointly done by National Electrification Administration Administrator Emmanuel Juaneza, San Francisco Mayor Grace Carmel Paredes-Bravo, Engr. Emmanuel Galarse, general manager of Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative (ASELCO), and ASELCO board officials at the Purok 8 community stage on Wednesday.
The community which is 15 kilometers from the national highway and can be reached through the rugged unattended roads of the former oil palm plantation company has been home of the Umayamnon tribe led by Man-anohog who lived there since 2007 after his tribal rebel group belonging to NPAs’ Front Committee 34 surrendered to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and later to former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The event is considered by state-run NEA an important milestone in the government’s rural electrification drive through the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) implemented by 121 electric cooperatives nationwide.
Speaking for more than half an hour, Man-anohog was grateful for ASELCO and NEA for their efforts in connecting their community with electricity after a long time of waiting.
He spent most of his speech talking about their travails while in their armed fight against the government because of the human rights violations of their forebears many decades back.
Hiding with their families in the mountaineous areas in the boundaries of Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon during armed struggle movement, Man-anohog recalled there were 63 members of their clan died in the encounters with the military in the past.
Even as they have been waiting for so long for the electricity to reach their community, Man-anohog said he saw his neighbors expressing extra gladness when electricians installed electricity in their homes.
The tribal chieftain himself bought a brand new LED TV in the house of one of his wives. According to him, a tribal leader is allowed to marry at least seven wives based on their Umayamnon culture.
“Ang pag abot sa kuryente dinhi morag naibtan mi sa tunok sa kalisdanan (The electricity that came here seems to have pricked out the thorns of our hardships),” Man-anohog said in Cebuano vernacular.
Engr. Galarse said Purok 8 is among the eight puroks energeized since last year. He felt the experience of the Umayamnon community saying : “It’s true that you have to go through difficult paths before you get the blessings.”
For her part, Mayor Paredes-Bravo also shared the feeling of the lumad community but added the electricity that finally came to them will have a big socio-economic impact of their lives.
She encourage Datu Sumusunod to be a video blogger for social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and TikTok since he is a good story teller. “This is an avenue where you can share your culture to other people throughout the world.”
Juaneza vowed to continue pursuing rural electrification program in the country with a goal of totally covering all the villages and communities in the country.
He noted in Mindanao the program already reached 87 percent in Mindanao.