By Camille Abadicio, CNN Philippines – On Saturday night, parts of the country were plunged into darkness from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
No, it wasn’t because of a power disruption or a terrorist attack. But it was Filipinos joining 184 other countries in making a stand to mitigate the ill-effects of climate change.
The Philippines took part yesterday in Earth Hour 2017, a worldwide initiative that started in 2007 where people switch off their lights for one hour to spread awareness on environmental issues.
For this year, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines and the National Youth Council put the youth at the forefront of the movement by launching the Earth Hour Camp.
The event was led by young people who put up a variety of booths that highlighted: climate mitigation, adaptation, native tree planting, gardening, interactive disaster response, and renewable energy technologies.
WWF Philippines also introduced National Youth Ambassadors Janine Gutierrez and Andre Paras to join their roster of ambassadors, who include celebrities Mikee Cojuanco-Jaworski and Marc Nelson.
“It’s been 10 years since we started Earth Hour and the most important thing is what we do after we switch the lights back on,” Cojuangco-Jaworski told CNN Philippines on Saturday. “We really hope to be able to get the message (across) of how important it is for us to do our share in taking care of the environment.”
Indeed, even one of the country’s largest commercial districts joined the movement.
Local officials and celebrities led the ceremonial switch off of a huge light bulb at the Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati to observe Earth Hour. Some of the personalities who attended the event were David Semerad, Arnold Van Opstal and Rashawn McArthy of the San Miguel Beermen.
After the lights were turned off, the players made a public pledge to do their share in protecting the environment.
“We’re really happy to be here,” Van Opstal said. “Whenever humanity comes as a whole together for the bigger picture, it’s always nice.”
“We’re happy to be part of a company, San Miguel Corporation, that supports Earth Hour and supporting the environment, so it’s really good to be part of a family like that,” Semerad said.
Meanwhile, commercial establishments along Ayala Avenue turned off their lights as a symbolic act of their commitment to protecting the Earth.
Bikes as symbols of sustainability
In Cabanatuan City, people gathered in two SM malls to take part in the Earth Hour celebration.
After the ceremonial switch off, guests had the chance to experience powering a giant light-bulb centerpiece using only energy from bicycles.
Local government officials, such as Cabanatuan City mayor Julius Cesar Vergara, joined the event, as well as members of non-government organizations and environmental-protection groups.
“We know how destructive the calamity that we experienced in the past years (was),” Vergara said. “And it’s about time for us to work together to save the environment not only for us, but for the future generation.”
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