Photo Essay Documents Plight of Communities Living Near Philippines’ Oldest Coal Plant


Coal is a highly polluting energy source. The use of coal brings with it a host of environmental, human health and social costs, which can be clearly seen through its impacts on mostly poor communities in and around coal-fired power plants.

Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!

Photographer AC Dimatatac, visited Calaca, Batangas, to join a community consultation led by Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL), with the residents of Barangay Quisumbing, to document the plight and struggle of communities living near the Philippines’ oldest coal plant—the Calaca power station a 600-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned by DMCI Holdings Incorporated of the Consunji Group in Calaca, the Philippines.

Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


The coal plant stands prominently behind the statue of a crucified Christ at a chapel near Barangay Quisumbing, Batangas. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


Elders of the Barangay Quisumbing share their experiences about the coal power plant near their area. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


A child plays in front of a chapel that stands along the way to Barangay Quisumbing, Calaca, Batangas. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


Children walking along the shores of Calaca Bay, where the 600 megawatt power plant stands since 1984 causing great damage to the environment and health of the residents for over thee decades. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


Residents speak about how they bore witness to the construction and eventual 30-year operation of the coal plant that continues to this day. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


Peti Enriquez, of Bukluran ng Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL), the main organization campaigning leading the anti-coal campaign in Calaca, gives a historical background of how the rule of eminent domain was used by the national government to take the coastal region of Calaca, in the late 1970s to build a power plant for the massive industrialization that was being implemented in the region at that time. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!

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The farmer and fisherfolk community of Barangay Quisumbing are calling for the government to stop investing in dirty coal and start using renewable energy. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


Community leaders voice their resistance to the expansion of the coal plant. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


PJ Santos, of Kalikasan Peoples’ Network for the Environment, relates the community’s struggle to the national momentum of grassrooots resistance against fossil-fuel development. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


View of the phase 3 of calaca power plant near Barangay Puting Bato,Batangas. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


DMCI Power Corporation plans to expand the power station in three phases.Expansion Phase I, consisting of two 150-MW units, is under construction. Expansion Phase II, still under development, was initially planned as two additional 150-MW units; it was later changed to a single 350-MW unit, then to two single-unit 350-MW additional phases. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


What used to be a part of a rest house is now in ruins because of the effect of the coal power plant’s constant dredging of the shoreline to make room for the constant. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!

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(L-R) Constancia De Mesa (64), Norma Castillano, (59) and Magdalena Hernandez (66) they have been living in Calaca since birth and have lived with the effects of the coal power plant almost all their lives. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


Constancia De Mesa: “We were among the first to oppose the project because it caused the immediate decline of our catch. We hope there is still a chance to close it because it causes great destruction to our community.” Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


Norma Castillano: “Our appeal to the government is to put a stop to the coal plant’s dirty operation, it puts our future and the future of our children at risk.” Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


Magdalena Hernandez: “We’ve been resisting this project since the 1980s — even before it the plant started operating. When the coal plant started to operate it started to kill off the fish and the vegetation. Our community health center can attest to the growing trend of declining health and rise of cardiovascular diseases. The ash is everywhere including our farmlands and our sources for drinking water.” Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


The community vows to step up their campaign against the expansion of the coal plant. On May 14 they plan to confront DMCI Power Corporation. Photo credit: AC Dimatatac / Piglas Pilipinas!


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