Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saltwater-fed lamp: Will its inventor stick to her gun?

Engr. Aisa Mijeno meets with President Obama and Jack Ma of  Alibaba.com.
at the APEC CEO Summit in Manila. Photo: philnews.ph
Engr. Aisa Mijeno didn't have time to figure it out until she paid a visit to a remote village in Mt. Province in the Philippines.

At the touch of dusk, she had noticed that all the homes in that upland community were engulfed in total darkness. Then, she promised to herself that she would invent a lamp that wouldn't use kerosene, a common fuel for unsafe traditional lamps in the hinterland areas in the country. But kerosene lamps can burn down houses made of light and native materials that are readily available in the uplands.

When she went back home, Mijeno tried to polish her new invention. Voila, she made it. She thought her problem would end there. Instead, she was faced with the lack  of money to finance her new project, which is to mass-produce the saltwater-fed lamp intended for the homes in upland communities in the Philippines.

It took Mijeno a long while before she finally had a chance to meet one of the most powerful political figures the world over. But her luck wouldn't have been realized had  it not been for her persistence and determination to attend the APEC Summit in Manila held last November 2015 at the Philippine International Convention Center  (PICC). As she narrated to media, the security cordon almost made it impossible for her to get through the gates as she wasn't accredited by the APEC organizer. To  make the story short, President Obama's secret service agents fetched her at the gate and brought her to meet President Obama in person.

Such was the culmination of an exchange of camaraderie among President Obama, Jack Ma of  Alibaba.com and Engr. Aisa Mijeno at the stage for the world to see  and hear what she went through before she finally got that rare opportunity to meet the U.S. president. If I wasn't mistaken, Mijeno was invited by President Obama to visit Washington, D.C. And as media reports said even Mr. Jack Ma has expressed optimism to support the mass-production of the saltwater-fed lamp. In this way, the world's hinterland populations, especially those who are not connected to the power grids, may have the chance to be lit up at a cost they can afford to defray.

The Philippines comprises of more than 7,000 islands where lighting up all the homes would be next to impossible. Homes in coastal villages are accessible and can  easily be interconnected to the power grids. This is where the disparity in power distribution begins. But what about those homes located in the hinterlands, where infrastructures are absent? This is where this type of lamp  comes in. And to think that the Philippines is surrounded by the oceans is something that makes it more economical for poor households to readily avail of a cheap  power sources.

Now, the big question is: Will the inventor of this saltwater-fed lamp be strong enough to resist the tempting offers from foreign companies to buy her patent? The reason why I'm asking this question because there were Filipino inventions in the past which landed in the hands of foreign financiers, without the Filipinos or their intended  captive markets where they're supposed to improve the lives of the poor majority. There was a Filipino who invented a special gadget that could run vehicles using  water, instead of gas. Another Filipino invented the fluorescent bulb, but who is raking the huge profits?

Again, the Philippine government is to blame if this happens once more. From what I read, Mijeno failed to get support from the Philippine government even  after she came out with her invention. I wouldn't be surprised at all why Filipino inventors have been left alone for a long period of time. The Department of Science and  Technology (DOST) must spearhead a program that would lend support to our inventors. Otherwise, they'll have no option but to sell their inventions to foreigners who are expected to mass-produce them for huge profits.

Patent for the saltwater-generated lamp, which was invented by Filipino Engr. Aisa Mijeno, could be bought by a rich foreign financier. Then, it could be shelved for selfish reasons.  Possible buyers of this special lamp are oil producing countries and perhaps, companies that produce fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. Why?
If this newly invented lamp, which can also be used to recharge cellphones,  is mass-produced, using multi-million funds sourced out from from foreign financiers, there is likelihood that it could be vulnerable to tempting offers from people or companies whose intentions are either for profit or for something else. Nobody knows.

The concern of many Filipinos right now is whether the lamp's inventor is determined enough to stick to her gun or not? But sometimes, the color of money fools the eyes! Isn't it?

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