BACKLINERS: POWER PLANT WORKERS
Walter Alimusa, 55, has not come home for three weeks now. While most Filipinos work from home while the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is in effect, Alimusa needs to be physically present in his work area to make sure that the supply of electricity is not disrupted so people would stay at home.
As operations head of First Gen Hydro Power Corp. (FGHPC), Alimusa sees to it that the132-MW Pantabangan-Masiway hydroelectric power plant complex in Nueva Ecija is always up and running.
“My job is crucial because I lead a department responsible for operating the power plant, ensuring that the dispatch schedules are followed and that the plant is compliant to the grid operator’s requirements. All these support the power requirement of the country’s vital installations such as medical facilities, telecommunication and the like,” he said.
Since the ECQ was implemented, Alimusa said FGHPC’s Business Continuity Management Plan has been activated to support the continuous operation of the plant, to ensure it is sufficiently manned and that entry of personnel is controlled to prevent contamination of plant premises and employees on-duty.
It may sound simple but it’s not. He has not seen his family for more than three weeks now.
“Since the ECQ was implemented, a business continuity management plan has been activated to continue operations of the plant. Malaki ang pinagbago ng working environment namin. Naka-lockdown kami since March 16, pero nakakauwi pa ako for a few days. Pero since April 1, hinde na ako umuuwi. Seventy eight kaming nandito. May pinasok na additional 10 pa for maintenance work. Right now, naka 14-day quarantine ‘yung additional 10,” said Alimusa.
[There’s been a big change in our working environment. We’ve been on lockdown since March 16, but then I could still go home a a few days. Since April 1, however, I haven’t gone hom. We are 78 people here. An additional 10 were brought in for maintenance work. Right now, the additional 10 are under 14-day quarantine].
For the welfare of Filipinos, Alimusa said they are all willing to work inside the power facility for as long as the ECQ is in effect.
“Mahirap magtrabaho na malayo sa pamilya nang matagalan. Willing kami mag stay sa planta hangang may ECQ para ma-ensure namin ang planta ay patuloy makapag-provide ng kuryenta sa mga kababayan, natin lalo na sa mag ospital para sigurado na gumagana ang mga medical equipment.”
[It’s hard to work away from your family for a long time. But we’re willing to stay in the plant while there’s an ECQ to ensure the plant continues to provide popwer to our people; especially the hospitals, so medical equipment will keep running].
In a mix of English and Filipino, he stressed that they’re doing this for all, but especially “for our frontliners like doctors and nurses, as well as our policemen who make sure the ECQ is enforced in an orderly manner.”
Kung walang kuryente, mas magiging miserable ang buhay ng kababayan natin. Kase lahat ng tao gumagamit ng kuryente. Pag walang kuryente, mainit. Pag mainit, maglabasan ang mga tao sa bahay nila. Pag walang kuryente, hinde makaka work from home,” he said.
[Without electricity, our people’s lives will be miserable. Everyone uses it. Without power, it’s so hot. If it’s hot, people will be forced to step out of their homes. Without power, they cannot work from home].
Alimusa assured his family that FGHPC is providing for the needs of its employees. These include personal protective equipment, food, shelter and other basic needs. The company has also been supportive in ensuring that the sheltered-in personnel are healthy physically and mentally.
In spite of this, Alimusa still fears for the safety of his family.
“Malayo ako sa kanila. Paano kung may mangyari sa kanila? Sino ang magdadala sa kanila sa ospital? May mga elderly kasi sa pamilya namin. Ang inaalala ko parati ay ang kapakanan ng pamilya ko. Mahirap talaga ang sitwasyon ngayon,” he said.
[I’m far from them. What if something happens to them? Who will bring them to hospital? We have elderly family members. I always worry for my family. This situation is really difficult].
No stranger to danger
Like Alimusa, 30-year-old Cristopher Eric Damirez is also familiar with the dangers of his work.
Tasked to supervise the day-to-day operations of the 97MW Avion Open-Cycle Natural Gas-Fired Power Plant, Damirez must deal with one or more occupational hazards.
Some of these hazards include high-voltage contact, working from heights and in confined spaces, running delicate yet complex machinery and exposure to weather conditions.
“On our site, we’ve been dealing with occupational hazards on a daily basis as we are monitoring hazardous areas with high-voltage equipment, pressurized vessels…Here in First Gen, we have administrative and engineering measures to limit all hazards and make the area safe and workable for all the personnel working and visiting on site,” said Damirez, a Shift Charge Engineer from Avion Operations Department.
Working in a power facility, Damirez said, takes a lot of mental and physical strength. He said one should possess a disciplined mindset. “Working in this industry is no joke. Safety should always be the priority in every situation. Quick and objective decision-making, I think, is also an essential asset.”
Alimusa and Damirez each have a role to play so that we may survive this crisis.
“Let us do our respective duties and do them with commitment,” said Alimusa.
“And to everyone, let us fight Covid-19 by staying at home, by not spreading false information that may cause more harm than good and by praying to God for healing of this world,” said Damirez.
𝘊𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥-19 𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘤 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘧𝘰𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 — 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘰 — 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘶𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘨𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘥𝘶𝘵𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘊𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥-19 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦, 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯𝘴, 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦𝘥, 𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳, 𝘣𝘺 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘥𝘳𝘢𝘸 𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘭 𝘢𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦.
𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 “𝘣𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘴” — 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘧𝘧 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘬𝘦𝘵 𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘣𝘶𝘺 𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘴; 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘱𝘶𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘬𝘦𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴; 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘺𝘦𝘦𝘴; 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘤𝘬𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘰, 𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘦𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘱𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘷𝘪𝘳𝘶𝘴; 𝘱𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘴, 𝘨𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘯, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘶𝘴𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘧𝘪𝘵 𝘰𝘧𝘧-𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴, 𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘰𝘵 “𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘺 𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦” 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘬𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘴.
𝘐𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘔𝘪𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮.