PDL in Baguio develops solar-powered ‘gasifier’

With the high cost of electricity and skyrocketing prices of gasoline, turning to cheaper alternative sources of energy has never been as urgent. This was the driving force behind a solar-powered "gasifier" developed by a person deprived of liberty (PDL) at the Baguio City Jail.

An engineer by profession, 53-year-old Rex (not his real name) said he wanted to make his idle time behind bars more productive so he came up with the idea of a solar-powered gasifier and submitted a proposal to the jail management.

Unlike his device, conventional gasifiers are powered by charcoal, wood and wood waste, agricultural residues, organic wastes, industrial wastes, and municipal trashes.

“Hindi ko naman magagawa ito kung wala silang suporta at approval. Tinulungan din nila ako sa materials na kailangan ko (I cannot do this without their support in terms of approval and materials),” he said.

Aside from powering light bulbs, Rex's energy converter can also be used to power appliances, mobile phones, and smokeless stoves.

The gasifier when used on a stove produces a blue flame that prevents soot from accumulating on a pot's bottom and eliminates the heavy smoke emission that harms the environment.

“Mas malakas ang hangin na ibibigay ng gasifier, mas malakas ang apoy (the stronger the air, the bigger the fire is),” Rex said.

He said similar devices have been created in the past but his “La Jailmania” is the first one to have an ash chamber and a flame regulator.

Still with the help of the jail management, Rex then came up with a feasibility study on the possible mass production of his gasifier and submitted it for approval of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

“Tinulungan din ako ng jail para sa feasibility study at nagdadasal tayo na sana ma-approve ang project (the jail administration also helped me do the feasibility study which I hope will be approved),” he said.

Rex is among the beneficiaries of the jail management's efforts to provide livelihood skills and projects to people like him, in partnership with non-government organizations and other government agencies.

“BJMPs goal is a humane safekeeping of the PDLs. We have to come up with activities that will not only make them busy but will prepare them for reintegration in case they are allowed to go back to the community,” Jail Supt. Mary Ann Ollaging-Tresmanio, warden of the male dormitory, said in a phone interview over the weekend.

TESDA projects for PDLs

Tresmanio said being in jail should not keep their detainees from becoming productive individuals.

“Iyon naman ang gusto natin, kumita sila at ma-improve nila ang sarili nila kasi hindi lahat ng andito sa jail naco-convict at importante na alam nilang mamuhay ng legal at disente kapag lumabas na sila (That is what we want, they earn and improve themselves because not all PDL are convicted and we want that if they will go back to their community, they will have a legal and decent source of income),” she said.

One of the many skills being promoted among the inmates is restaurant services, which started being offered with the help of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to about 30 PDLs at the male dorm in May 2022, according to Vilma Tolarba, information officer at the Baguio City School of Arts and Trades (BCSAT).

“The intervention aims to allow PDLs to acquire skills which they can use when they return to society. They can also utilize the skills while inside the jail, such as applying it during special occasions in the jail,” she said.

Other skills being taught are table skirting, napkin folding, table appointment arrangement, serving, and bussing out.

“They can work as waitstaff or waiters in the food industry after learning these skills,” Tolarba said.

BCSAT administrator Arlene Cadalig, during the PDLs' graduation day, said: “I hope that you have learned something from the training that you can use for the betterment of your lives. Do not stop learning. We have various training that is under the scholarship programs. Please inform your family members, relatives, and friends to avail of the programs provided by the government.”

Cadalig assured the public that the BCSAT will continue upskilling more PDLs with its continued partnership with the Baguio City Jail.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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