Brix Maskariño wakes up before the sun even rises. The dormitory begins to bustle with muted activity, but Brix’s early start means that he won’t have to wait in line to shower. He is one of the team members rendering duty during Therma South, Inc.’s (TSI) facility quarantine to keep the lights on amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While the country’s frontliners like medical personnel, bankers, janitors, and police continue to brave the pandemic, another group of unsung heroes diligently works to be the backbone of the nation by keeping power supply available during these challenging times.
Control Room Engineers (CREs) can be considered the brain of the power plant. They have the oversight of the entire plant operations, and like brains picking up signals from the body, CREs also monitor the condition of the plant to ensure that everything is running normally.
In order to do this, it is imperative that CREs are mentally alert and have the mindset that anything can happen at any time. Even more so when the current work arrangement has stripped back manpower to a skeletal workforce due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“By the time I go back to the dorm, I usually fall asleep right away since the task is mentally-demanding. You have to continuously monitor the status of the plant and your mind is always running and has to be prepared to respond if something goes wrong,” Brix shared.
Plant operations are not the only thing running through Brix’s mind, though. The facility quarantine entails that all personnel rendering duty inside the plant have to stay inside the facility for two weeks. This is a reverse isolation protocol to prevent bringing in potential infection. This also means that team members have to be away from their families for a period of time. TSI has provided dormitories for its team members under quarantine, along with forms of entertainment such as cable TV and full Internet access so that people like Brix are able to stay in touch with their loved ones.
“This is the first time I’ve been away from my family. With all that’s happening, it’s hard to keep your mind at ease. My thoughts keep going back to my family. I found a better appreciation for my family through this experience,” Brix said.
In light of the developments, Brix had to leave his aging parents at home alone while he steps up to keep the lights on.
“The work that we do is important, now more than ever. We need to supply energy so that frontliners can do their work and can use the facilities they need. Kay syempre kinahanglan nila ug suga sa mga hospital (They need electricity in hospitals),” Brix shares.
“Mas na-appreciate nako akong trabaho run. Usually [sa social media] kadalasan makita nimo kay thanks para sa mga nurses and frontliners, pero naa pud times makita namo para sa power sector. Maka-touch pud nga naay kapilang tao nga maka-appreciate sa among ginabuhat (I can appreciate my job more now. Usually you see people thanking nurses and frontliners on social media, but sometimes you can see some thanking the power sector. It’s touching that there are some people who appreciate what we do),” Brix added.
Overall, Brix found that his experience with hotel isolation and facility quarantine was alright. It was an experience that allowed him to find a deeper appreciation and sense of duty to his family.
“Ang atoang sacrifice para man gyud ni siya sa atoang family. Kinahanglan nato isupport atong mga frontliners para mabuhat nila ang ilang trabaho para ma-control nila ning pandemic. Para pud dili madamay atoang mga families. Kana akong mindset karon. Ginabuhat nako ni to keep my family safe and para makatabang pud ta sa country (The sacrifice we’re making is for the sake of our family. We need to support our frontliners so they can do their job to control the pandemic, so that our families are kept safe. This is my mindset now. I’m doing this to keep my family safe and to help my country),”
Wholly-owned AboitizPower subsidiary Therma South, Inc. (TSI) is the owner and operator of the 300-Megawatt Davao Baseload Power Plant located in Binugao, Toril, Davao City. TSI is certified in four ISO standards, namely Quality Management (ISO 9001:2015), Environmental Management (ISO 14001:2015), Occupational Health and Safety Management (OHSAS 45001:2018), and Asset Management System (ISO 55001:2014). Along with Therma Luzon, Inc. and Therma Visayas, Inc., the three primarily compose the Coal Business Unit of AboitizPower.