Earth Hour and Beyond: What Should I Do Now?

A beautiful sea of candle lights lit up the Ayala Triangle Garden in Makati City last March 31, 2012 with shadows of smiling faces appearing over the darkness. People united and took pride in the effort to create global awareness for the plight of Mother Earth.  There were song and dance numbers as well as random pledge-making among the audience before the anticipated light switch-off moment was to happen from 8:30 until 9:30 pm..  Celebrities like Chris Tiu attended the event to lend their crowd-drawing power for the cause.  The feeling of the night was somewhat close to a New Year celebration where a count-down for Earth Hour was eagerly anticipated but instead of fireworks, the crowd was looking forward to darkness.  Who would have guessed that darkness could be a good thing?
The world celebrated Earth Hour, the largest environmental celebration in human history, last March 31, 2012. The Philippines, declared a Hero Country for topping Earth Hour’s global town and city participation level for three straight years until this year, held three simultaneous switch-off ceremonies for the first time in the cities of Makati, Cebu, and Davao led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines!
 
Makati City’s Ayala Triangle Gardens was the central hub for Luzon. Earlier at 6:30 PM , glow-in-the-dark dance troupe Bailes de Luces and the Caracol dancers led the  Earth-themed parade from the Makati fire station to Ayala Tower One – where WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Rovilson Fernandez hosted the program. 
Performances from Bailes De Luces, Caracol, and El Gamma Penumbra entertained the audience with outstanding energy and confidence. Minutes before the switch-on, WWF-Philippines Partners announced their participation in the I WILL IF YOU WILL campaign by sharing their pledge. 
The I WILL IF YOU WILL campaign aims to empower people by asking them to share a personal dare with the world. It poses the question — what are you willing to do to save the planet? and centers around providing a social contract between two parties. It connects one person, business or organization to a ‘promise’ and their friends, family customers or members to a challenge – uniting them behind the common goal of creating a positive environmental outcome. 
Famous faces around the world are speaking out to encourage participation and support for Earth Hour. Pledges are coming in from a plethora of groups and as an open sourced campaign, Earth Hour uses social media to connect a global community of people inspired to change the world they live in.
Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia was the chief switch-off site for the Visayas. A festive street parade led by local Sinulog Dancers started at Fuente Osmeña Circle from 5:30 PM onwards. The Cebu switch-off featured a candle lighting ceremony capped off by the release of biodegradable sky lanterns. Cebu’s event was held in cooperation with the Aboitiz Group and the Cebu City Government.
SM Davao was the main switch-off site for Mindanao. WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Marc Nelson hosted the switch-off, which featured a tribal-themed parade around SM Davao at 6:30 PM. Black-light and fire-dancers entertained the crowd with specialized routines when the city plunges into darkness. The Davao event was in collaboration with SM Supermalls, the Green Alliance and the Davao City Government.
Earth Hour is one of the solutions that we can use to battle climate change, among other environmental problems. With this in mind, Makati City Mayor Hon. Jejomar Erwin Binay, Jr. welcomed the guests and introduced a short message from the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III.  WWF Philippines Vice Chairman and CEO, Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan talked about climate change and rallied people to be part of the solution. 
Andy Ridley gave the keynote speech followed by the Earth Hour official video and a message from heads of WWF International leaders – Jim Leape, WWF International Director General and Yolanda Kakabadse, WWF International President. 
“I want to say thank you to all of you here in Mania and across the Philippines who are part of this global event. Earth Hour by itself is an important statement of concern about the future of the planet. It also should be just the beginning. So I hope when you go home you will recommit yourself to making changes in the way you live that can help us all sustain life on earth. Thank you for being part of Earth Hour 2012,” said Mr. Leape in his message to the Filipinos. 
Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez

Everyone was asked to pledge for the planet by having a greener lifestyle and by joining hundreds of millions of people across the globe in calling for action on climate change and celebrating one’s commitment for the planet not just for that night but beyond the Earth Hour. 

The ceremonial switch-off was led by Earth Hour Co-Founder Andy Ridley, WWF Vice-Chairman and CEO Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, Makati City Mayor Hon. Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., Ayala Land Inc. President Mr. Antonio Aquino, DOE Undersecretary Ms. Loreta Ayson, Climate Change Commission Commissioner Naderev Saño, and MACEA President Mr. David Balangue.
Now in its fifth year, Earth Hour Philippines continues to grow. Current public sector partners include the Climate Change Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Information Agency, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense, Department of Transportation and Communications, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Budget Management, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Education, the Metro Manila Development Authority, League of Municipalities, League of Cities and League of Provinces of the Philippines.

Philippine Media Champions include TV5, ABS-CBN, GMA-7, CLTV-36, Discovery Channel, Knowledge Channel, ZOE TV, Global News Network, Philippine Star, BusinessWorld, BusinessMirror, Philippine Daily Inquirer Online, Aftercall Magazine, Philippines Graphic, Radyo Veritas, DZIQ, DZAR, Globaltronics, QCreativs, Photoworld Manila, ASK and Illuminati Philippines.
Corporate partners include the Yuchengco Group of Companies, Arthaland, McDonald’s, Big Chill, Tully’s Coffee, Globe Telecommunications, Smart Communications, Primer Group of Companies, Core, York, Victory Liner, Aboitiz Group of Companies, Lopez Group of Companies, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Ayala Land, SM Supermalls, Victory Liner Incorporated, 2GoTravel, Canon Marketing Philippines, Campaigns and Grey, Leo Burnett Manila, the Makati Shangri-La Hotel plus Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila. 
The list of allies grows longer each day. 
“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. 
These scenes may have been replicated in other major cities around the world but when the lights are turned back on, what happens next? How do we keep the feeling alive, much longer than just a hour?
WWF Phil CEO, Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, sums up what Filipinos can do beyond Earth Hour.
“What are the things we forget? . . . is that we are a democracy. The art of democracy is participation.  If you look in the US, the first one to respond to Hurricane Katrina is the private sector not FEMA.  So that is the point I am trying to make here.  Sure, the governent has the opportunity to influence politics, but politics takes years like planting trees. Whereas the private sector can do something quickly and within one year they can make a difference, not just by saving power but by keeping communities and economies viable . . .such as how they put up their plant or how they annex water.  No company can operate without water and there are some companies who have actually made investments in improving watershed management that not only benefits the company but also the community. For me, the challenge here is to create waves of reaction, not just point to government and ask what are you doing now. The opportunity really here is to point to yourself and ask: what am I doing?
With Earth Hour founder, Andy Ridley
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