June 21, 2024

Engr. Juris Awal, a resident of Asin Barangay, sought an audience with the city council to discuss the possibility of Baguio forging a sister city partnership with cities in Ohio in the U.S. in appreciation of the late mayor Eusebius Halsema who was from New Bremen, Ohio.
Awal said Halsema, an American engineer, spent his entire career in the country and was instrumental in the construction of the Asin Hydroelectric Power Plants.
Halsema’s biography stated the first plant at Camp 6 went into operation on July 16, 1921. Thereafter, the second plant was constructed at Asin River.
The third plant located at Asin Hot Springs which was put into operation on August 27, 1936 was Halsema’s final major project for the Philippine Government and its people.
Awal said he is lobbying for a partnership with Ohio State cities to honor Halsema and help the city government in the rehabilitation and effective operation of the Asin power plants.
He said the idea of a sister city partnership came from Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan.
He said the two potential Ohio State cities Baguio City can partner with are Columbus City and Lima City.
Awal said Ronald Simeon Eiselstein wrote Sharetta Smith, Mayor of Lima City, to relay Olowan’s desire to forge sisterhood ties with Ohio cities.
Eiselstein is a native of Meigs County, Ohio who lived at Maria Pucay Road. He studied at Easter School, now Easter College, and University of Baguio.
He is a hydropower inventor and personally knows Awal.
The city council’s secretariat obtained an email message sent by Eiselstein to Smith in which the former explained the sisterhood proposal may be “a fantastic idea.”
Eiselstein said there are over three million Filipino-Americans in the United States and many of them live in Ohio.
Awal told the council that Eiselstein introduced the idea of a partnership between Baguio City and Ohio cities to Congressman William “Bill” Johnson, a member of the committee on energy in the United States House of Representatives.
Awal said Johnson proposed that Baguio City should first try applying for a grant from the United States Agency for International Development Energy Secure Philippines (USAID ESP).
He said the city government may look into the possibility of acquiring a USAID ESP grant for the re-operation of the Asin power plants.
He proposed the use of Tidal Energy Converter by Replenish Waterpower USA which was invented by Eiseltein.
If the USAID ESP grant is approved, the engineering and design will be done by the inventor.
The fabrication and installation will be the responsibility of the city government or it can bid it bid out, but responsibility to operate and maintain the innovation will lie with the inventor.
The technology uses simple lever instead of turbines. The lever uses the weight of water rather than the flowing force of the water like a turbine, making it more efficient than traditional technologies.
Olowan tasked Councilor Elaine Sembrano, the city council’s representative for the sisterhood and twinning committee, to study the sisterhood proposal.
Olowan likewise tasked Councilor Benny Bomogao, chairperson of the committee on public utility, transportation, and traffic legislation, to look into the proposal to use Tidal Energy Converter for the re-operation of the Asin hydro plants. – Jordan G. Habbiling