ESPRESSO MORNINGS

By Joe Zaldarriaga

Mr. Joe Zaldarriaga, fondly called “Manong Joe”, is a distinguished figure in the country’s corporate communications landscape. Holding the position of Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications at Manila Electric Company (Meralco), he has orchestrated unparalleled success for the utility company, winning accolades for their brand of service communications.
Under his guidance, Meralco achieved unprecedented milestones, clinching a historic 3-peat Company of the Year title at the IABC Philippine Quill Awards, scoring the only PR Team of the Year trophy bestowed at the Anvil Awards, and securing numerous honors at international and local communication awards.
Manong Joe’s leadership also extends as a respected member of the Board of Trustees for the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), concurrent with his role as Chairman of the International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC Philippines) where he also served as its President.
Manong Joe is a distinguished awardee of the medallion of honor and scroll of commendation from the University of Manila, owing to his years in public service as a communications professional. He shares his insights through columns in renowned publications, including The Philippine Star’s The Z Factor, and Philippine News Agency’s ESPRESSO MORNINGS.

In today’s rapidly advancing world, stable electricity service is perhaps one of the most overlooked basic needs that, surprisingly, remains a scarcity for some. Despite the many technological advancements in our society, it is an unfortunate reality that reliable electricity service remains a privilege for some communities.

While key economic regions here in the Philippines such as Metro Manila often take for granted continuous electricity, there are still areas that grapple with frequent and prolonged power outages.

A 2023 study published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) revealed that the country stands to lose millions in hours-long power outages. A five-hour power outage in the country for example is estimated to cost the Philippines about PHP556 million in economic losses according to PIDS. This is not only a detriment to the quality of life of Filipinos but is also a major threat to regional economic growth and societal progress given that electricity is a pillar of commerce and industry.

Unreliable electricity service hampers progress as it tends to slow down business operations, reduce productivity, and diminish the quality of life of communities.

Therefore, efforts to improve the quality and stability of electricity service in areas often plagued with recurring power outages should be prioritized not only to accelerate economic growth and progress in the provinces but mainly to avoid potential losses. After all, energy security forms part of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s 10-point agenda for economic renewal and long-term growth.

In Batangas province for example, 18 mayors recently passed a resolution for a partnership between the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and Batangas Electric Cooperative Inc. (Batelec) 1 and 2 to address the problem of recurring power outages and improve the general quality of electricity service. The partnership will see Meralco pouring in more capital as well as technical expertise to enhance the electricity service in Batangas.

This development comes following clamor for better electricity service from Batangueños. Once effective, the proposed partnership is expected to boost the quality and stability of electricity service in Batangas province for the collective benefit of the people and businesses in the area.

Sadly, many people don’t fully realize how crucial it is to have quality electricity service is in our daily lives.

On the economic front, improving the quality and reliability of electricity service in provinces, such as Batangas, will attract more investors to pour in capital outside Metro Manila and will encourage businesses to expand. This in turn will generate more jobs and open more economic opportunities for regional growth and development.

Beyond economic benefits, having stable and reliable electricity service enhances the quality of life of citizens. Electricity, more than anything, is an enabler. It enables the provision of quality healthcare, education, social services, even recreational activities.

To improve the electricity service and accelerate economic growth in the provinces, collaboration between energy industry stakeholders and the support of the government is necessary for the collective benefit of Filipinos. It is imperative for local government units (LGUs) to explore ways to continuously improve and strengthen the electricity infrastructure in their areas.

Collaboration between energy industry players like Meralco, and Batelec 1 and 2 can serve as a blueprint on how utilities can work together to improve the quality of electricity service that will surely create a positive ripple effect across all aspects of life.

Moving forward, I hope that problems on the stability and reliability of electricity service will soon become a thing of the past in areas like Batangas, so that more communities can reap the benefits of improved quality of life and wider economic opportunities.