Energy can be considered a country’s lifeblood. It nourishes, empowers, connects, and moves us. Without power, critical infrastructure like hospitals, food and drug manufacturing, and banks would have difficulty operating.
Our team members in the power sector may not be in the front lines, but they have a mission of their own in this pandemic — spreading the positive energy that will help the country heal. This has become their “why” in the mission to keep the lights on.
“Whenever I used to ask my colleagues how they felt about their work, they usually give the generic answer. ‘It’s the usual business. This is the work we do as technicians’— and then here comes the pandemic…”
A great many people walk through life in search of their “why”. The reason they wake up every morning. The reason they do the work that they do. For the Japanese, they call this “ikigai” which can be translated as “reason for being”. Anything that gives a deep sense of purpose to someone’s life.
Wilfred Manatad had always found himself pondering on this “why” and while the Aboitiz Group has the noble “why” of driving change for a better world, it wasn’t until the pandemic that he was able to translate this into his own purpose.
“It was late in the night, I just read the announcement that we were preparing to activate business continuity plans. I reached out to my teammates and told them, ‘I think we’re going on lockdown. We need to gear up,’” Wilfred recounted.
“I didn’t expect the answer they gave, because they were all enthusiastic. They said that this time the time we get to do our part and support the frontliners. I was initially expecting resistance, but the answer I got instead was of compassion,” Wilfred said. “It’s our time to help our community.”
From the resounding positive feedback from his peers, Wilfred found a deeper sense of meaning to the work that they do as part of the Electrical team of Therma South, Inc.’s (TSI) Maintenance department.
“Mas nabigyan ng meaning ‘yung trabaho namin. ‘Di na lang siya usual business. Though rarely tayo nasa spotlight, we play a vital role in helping the country. Tayo ‘yung nasa backstage. We keep the show running. (There’s more meaning in the work we do. It’s not just the usual business. Though we’re rarely in the spotlight, we play a vital role in helping the country. We’re the ones in the backstage. We keep the show running),” Wilfred said.
Rendering duty to keep the lights on is not an easy task. Apart from being away from family for almost a month, the team is also stripped back to a skeletal workforce during the facility quarantine. The usual work for four or five people falls onto the shoulders of two.
“We only have two people on the electrical team on duty for each batch. That means we have to be smart with our time and conserve our energy, because you never know if you’ll be called to do small fixes or bigger ones that consume more energy,” Wilfred shared.
As part of the Maintenance team, Wilfred’s duty entails that he keeps the power plant in shipshape conditions. This means the regular field work for the conduct of preventive and corrective maintenance.
A deeper sense of meaning is not the only thing Wilfred discovered during the pandemic. People often discover things about themselves in times of crisis, and for Wilfred, he discovered a brand of resilience he didn’t know he was capable of.
“Technicians have different specializations. For example, one can be good at protective relaying and another is good at partial discharge monitoring, but since we’re separated into three skeletal teams, sometimes the expert won’t be there in your group. We can call and seek for guidance, but we’d still need to do the work on the ground. More than anything, this experience has made us step up and strengthen teamwork,” Wilfred shared, “We’re able to do work that’s usually out of our comfort zone.”
Wilfred enjoins his fellow team members to adopt the same kind of resilience and spread positive energy.
“Walay mahitabo if you always worry. Instead of worrying, focus on and enjoy what you do. Above all, look for the purpose why ginabuhat na nimo. Kay pag naa na man gud meaning sa imong ginabuhat, ma-fulfill ka. You will enjoy what you do compared to nagabuhat lang ka without knowing the essence sa imong ginabuhat. Know your purpose and meaning. Make it your own. (Nothing will happen if you always worry. Instead of worrying, focus on and enjoy what you do. Above all, look for the purpose why you’re doing what you do. Because if you find meaning, you’ll be fulfilled. You will enjoy what you do compared to working without knowing the essence of what you’re doing. Know your purpose and meaning. Make it your own,” Wilfred said.
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.