A three-time Earth Hour champion since 2009 , the Philippines has earned the title official Earth Hour ‘Hero Country’ having the most number of cities and municipalities actively participating in this environment-awareness event. In 2009, the Philippines became the top Earth Hour country in terms of town and city participation, with 647 Philippine towns and cities joining in. Ten million Filipinos saved at least 611 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity in 2009 – equivalent to a temporary shutdown of a dozen coal-fired power plants.
In 2010, 1076 Philippine towns and cities participated – more than enough to retain the title. A record-breaking 1661 Philippine cities and municipalities switched off their lights for Earth Hour in 2011 – making the country a three-time Earth Hour champion and an official Earth Hour ‘Hero Country’. For the honor, Earth Hour Founder and Executive Director Andy Ridley is slated to celebrate this year’s event in the Philippines.
Since its inception, Earth Hour has grown to a 5251-city-strong global movement, reaching 1.8 billion people in 135 countries and territories in across all seven continents. It is now the largest annually-recurring environmental event on Earth.
|WWF Pres. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan|
The global 60-minute switch-off will extend to the International Space Station, where Earth Hour Astronaut-Ambassador Andre Kuipers shall stand vigil over our imperiled planet as the lights switch off on 31 March and share live photos with commentary.
Kuipers says he is thrilled to participate in Earth Hour and literally take the globally-significant movement to new heights. “There’s no better way to raise awareness for the future of the most beautiful planet in the whole universe!”
Back on Earth, preparations are frenetic. From Angola to Zimbabwe, organizing teams from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and its growing roster of allies are preparing for what is hoped to be the largest environmental celebration in human history.
Earth Hour founder and Executive Director Andy Ridley says everyone from citizens to businesses, school children to world leaders, need to believe they can make a difference.
“The state of our planet affects each and every one of us,” says Ridley. “Last year Earth Hour reached 1.8 billion people across the planet. This year through digital media we are offering a greater opportunity to connect people with the desire to take much needed action for the environment."
|Hosts Marc Nelson (R) and Rovilson|
Makati, Cebu, and Davao are the official Philippine Switch-off Sites
WWF-led switch-off ceremonies will be held simultaneously in the cities of Makati, Cebu and Davao - though other cities and towns are expected to hold well-organized events to observe the switch-off.
Makati City’s Ayala Triangle Gardens shall be the central hub for Luzon. At 6:30 PM on 31 March, glow-in-the-dark dance troupe Bailes de Luces and the Caracol dancers shall form the vanguard of an Earth-themed parade which starts at the Makati fire station and ends at Ayala Tower One - where WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Rovilson Fernandez shall host a programme with performances from El Gamma Penumbra, Brigada and other groups. No less than Earth Hour founder Andy Ridley shall lead the country’s main switch-off event, hosted by WWF with the help of Ayala Land and the Makati City Government.
Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia shall be the chief switch-off site for the Visayas. A festive street parade led by local Sinulog Dancers shall start from Fuente Osmeña Circle from 5:30 PM onwards. The Cebu switch-off further features a candle lighting ceremony capped off by the release of biodegradable sky lanterns. Cebu’s event is in cooperation with the Aboitiz Group and the Cebu City Government.
SM Davao shall be the main switch-off site for Mindanao. WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Marc Nelson shall host the switch-off, which features a tribal-themed parade around SM Davao at 6:30 PM. Black-light and fire-dancers shall woo the crowd with specialized routines once the city plunges into darkness. The Davao event is in collaboration with SM Supermalls, the Green Alliance and the Davao City Government.
|Presscon at the Manila Peninsula|
Earth Hour Philippines National Director Atty. Gia Ibay shares, “We’re extremely excited for this year’s switch-off ceremonies. Though the Visayas and Mindanao have always observed their own unique switch-off ceremonies, WWF has traditionally celebrated Earth Hour from Manila. To commemorate our country’s fifth Earth Hour, we thought it high time for WWF to observe the movement across the archipelago - which has always been what we’ve aimed for."
Famous faces around the world are speaking out to encourage participation and support for Earth Hour. Environmental activist and former US Vice-President Al Gore urged people to join the switch-off from a video message recorded from Antarctica. Pledges are coming in from a plethora of groups - ranging from top band Coldplay to global supermodel Miranda Kerr. As an open-sourced campaign, Earth Hour uses social media to connect a global community of people inspired to change the world we live in.
“More than anything, Earth Hour is a celebration of hope. When our planet plunges into darkness, we can look to the stars and dream of what can be. When the lights switch back on though - our real work begins.” concludes Ibay.
Earth Hour 2012 is set for 8:30pm on Saturday, 31 March, whether you’re on planet Earth - or orbiting it.
Earth Hour at a Glance
Earth Hour began as a single-city initiative in 2007. From 7:30 to 8:30pm on 31 March, 2.2 million people switched off their lights to celebrate Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia. The power saved during the 60-minute switch-off was equivalent to removing 48,613 cars off Sydney roads for an hour.
Earth Hour became a global movement in 2008. The Philippines was the first Southeast Asian nation to pledge full support. Its flagship cities of Pasay, Manila, Parañaque and Makati observed a switch-off ceremony from 8:00 to 9:00pm on 28 March 2008 at the CCP grounds. For more information, log on to: wwf.org.ph.
|Check out the cool Earth Hour shirts|