Spending New Year away from home | Inquirer Business

Spending New Year away from home

Meralco linemen, engineers help restore power in areas hit by Nina
12:12 PM February 17, 2017


More than a hundred volunteers from the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) braved the erratic weather and spent New Year’s Eve away from their families in order to help provinces hit by Typhoon Nina get their power back.

A total of 137 linemen and engineers on board 38 vehicles were deployed by Meralco and its corporate social responsibility arm, One Meralco Foundation (OMF), to typhoon-stricken areas in Albay, Camarines Sur, Quezon, Catanduanes and Oriental Mindoro to assist the local electric cooperatives in power restoration.

ESPALLARDO_ALBAY - Bayanihan, lineman style

Bayanihan, linemen-style. Meralco power restoration team in Albay work together to raise a fallen post brought down by typhoon Nina. (photo by Rommel Espallardo).

The teams were able to expedite the restoration of power for over 110,000 affected residents in these provinces. In 18 days, the teams were able to install and straighten 957 poles, retire 268 poles, repair and reconnect 1,036 spans of wire, relocate and install 69 transformers, and complete 1,547 spans of line clearing and trimming works. This collective effort energized major establishments in these provinces such as the Naga Airport, Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, Virac Airport, offices of DPWH, LTO, BIR, NFA, DENR, and PAGASA in Catanduanes, Puerto Galera Municipal Hall, and resorts in White Beach, Puerto Galera. The teams worked from 6AM until 9PM and extended until 10PM when necessary. Rain or shine, they worked the whole day with one and a half hour of total rest in between.


The team in Catanduanes was faced with frequent weather changes which eventually caused most of the team members to catch colds. But, this did not stop them from doing their work.

A member of the Catanduanes team, Junar Montoya has volunteered to assist in Iloilo after Typhoon Yolanda struck the province. He claimed it was more difficult this time. “Mas mahirap ngayon kasi pabagu-bago panahon. Sobrang init kasi tabing dagat tapos biglang uulan. Di naman kami pwede magpa-tila ng ulan kasi kailangan makarami ng gawa. Halos lahat tuloy kami may ubo’t sipon,” he said.

The team assigned to Camarines Sur also faced the same challenge. The unstable weather made their job more tiring, according to lineman Ephraim Arcega who said, “Grabe yung panahon po kasi ulan at init dun. Napakalamig pa sa gabi.

Meralco’s assistance to these typhoon-stricken areas was not limited to their power restoration efforts. One Meralco Foundation was also able to distribute 1,000 bags of relief goods right after typhoon struck the provinces, via Alagang Kapatid Foundation.

OMF President Jeffrey Tarayao said, “Celebrating the holidays became more meaningful knowing that Meralco and OMF were able to help those in need. This is testament to our employees’ commitment to be of service to Filipinos within and beyond our franchise area.”

Meralco Senior Vice President Ronnie L. Aperocho, head of Meralco’s Networks, shared, “We are blessed with employees who understand Meralco’s vital role in crucial times like this. Even if volunteering for this power restoration effort meant our linemen and engineers would be away from their families on New Year’s Eve, we still did not encounter difficulty in forming our power restoration teams”.


“It is during times like this that I feel extra proud to lead these passionate and very committed employees. They exemplify malasakit, which is one of our corporate values. For a company like Meralco, having employees like them is very important,” Aperocho added.


Meralco contingent of 137 linemen and engineers on board 38 vehicles were immediately deployed to areas hit by typhoon Nina to assist in faster restoration of power.

“This is call of duty. I am very lucky to have a very understanding fiancée,” said Billy Garcia, a lineman who left behind his wife-to-be to tend to frenzied preparations for their January 28 wedding. Another lineman, Ric Lanzuela, assigned to Camarines Sur contingent, was supposed to celebrate the New Year with his wife in their new home. “Excited kami ng asawa ko mag-New Year sa bahay namin kasi first time namin dun mag- celebrate kaya lang… Kailangan tayo ng mga nasalanta. May next year pa naman,” he said.

Their stories illustrate the sacrifices that Meralco’s power restoration teams have to make so the company can assist smaller local electric cooperatives in typhoon-stricken areas outside its franchise area.

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Meralco and OMF power restoration team in Catanduanes, together with Meralco SVP and Head of Networks Ronnie Aperocho and OMF President Jeffrey Tarayao.

As shared by the linemen, it is the joy and excitement that they see on the faces of the residents that serves as their energy booster. It is also the great feeling of being able to share their technical expertise and putting them to a more noble use that keeps them going. “Sobrang sulit yung pagod at sakripisyo kasi makikita mo yung mga tao rito, nagliliwanag yung mga mata kapag makita pa lang trucks ng Meralco. Bilib na bilib sila kasi ang bilis naming mag-restore dito,” Montoya said.

TAGS: Bayanihan, Catanduanes, Meralco

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