The lights in about 1,600 cities and towns in the Philippines will be turned off at exactly 8:30 tonight as the country takes part in Earth Hour, the global movement championing the environment.
The Philippines has been participating in Earth Hour since 2009, and is consistently one of its biggest advocates.
Last year, more than 1,600 of the 7,000 communities worldwide that joined Earth Hour were in the Philippines, a feat that earned it the title “Earth Hour Hero Country.”
Over 15 million Filipinos were estimated to have joined last year’s Earth Hour.
This year, organizers of the event are pushing for more aggressive initiatives. “We have already shown that we can generate the most number of participating towns, municipalities and cities,” Gregg Yann, Earth Hour Philippines communicator, said on Friday. “We have given our voice to the movement. The point we’d like to make now is that Filipinos can also be involved in other actions for the environment, that is why we also launched the Earth Hour Blue.”
Earth Hour Blue is a crowd-funding environmental initiatives platform that has launched projects from the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Nepal, India, Russia, Uganda, South Africa, Australia, Madagascar, Canada and Columbia.
WWF-Philippines chief executive officer Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan said he wants the Philippines to positively influence other participants.
“Having secured the top spot for four straight years, we should do all we can to ensure that the country again sends a clear message to the world—that individuals, when working as one, can rise to the challenge of climate change,” Tan said in a statement.
In the Philippines, the main staging sites for Earth Hour will be the Eastwood Mall Open Park and SM Mall of Asia’s by the Bay Area.
“At 8:30 p.m. you can either initiate your own switch-off at your home or be part of bigger switch-off initiatives led by companies or organizations,” said Gia Ibay, Earth Hour Philippines national director.
What began as a single-city event in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, Earth Hour now has 153 of the world’s 196 countries joining the switch-off.
SM Supermalls, a loyal supporter of Earth Hour, has pledged to turn off the lights in all of its 48 malls in the country, and six malls in China.
Another staunch supporter is the Ayala Group. The Ayala Center in Cebu will observe Earth Hour, as well as in Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati City where the local government will hold its ceremonial switch-off.
More famous brands also have a hand in caring of Mother Nature like coffee company Starbucks that will also switch-off lights, and digital imaging company Canon that launched a photo contest dubbed, “Be a Superhero for the Planet.”
Hotels in the Philippines like the Diamond Hotel, Dusit Thani Manila, Manila Pavilion Hotel, and Crowne Plaza Galleria are also taking part.
The government sector is represented by the Department of Energy, Climate Change Commission and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje also urged for more Filipinos to observe Earth Hour.
He said, “The overwhelming devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda serves to remind us that climate change is a serious issue that we can’t simply ignore and a global event such as Earth Hour is a valuable tool to raise awareness of climate change and environmental issues.”
In the wake of the 2013 devastation, Earth Hour Philippines 2014 will benefit rehabilitation projects for Yolanda survivors.
Even the Catholic Church has sent out a call to its faithful to join Earth Hour.
In a message on Friday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle invited Filipino Catholics to “give Nature a break.”
Tagle said taking care of the environment is part of being a good follower of God.
Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo urged the people to light candles and place them in windows as a show of participation to the activity.
Quevedo during Earth Hour the people “one can pray together as a family so that our environment will be protected even more.”