WWF’s Earth Hour is just around the corner. In 2009, over 80 countries participated by turning off their lights from 8:30-9:30PM to increase awareness about climate change and the negative effects of greenhouse gases. Even iconic landmarks all over the world from Athens to Australia’s Sydney Opera House joined the fun and bathed in moonlight instead of electricity. For proof, check out http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/03/earth_hour_2009.html for before-and-after pictures of The Eiffel Tower, the Sin City, and Los Angeles’s Nokia Plaza among others.

We Filipinos have a lot to be proud of: the Philippines placed first among all the countries in the world in terms of participation. Over ten million Filipinos in six hundred forty-seven cities, towns, and municipalities turned their lights off, saving about 611MWh of electricity. That’s like shutting down a dozen coal-fired powerplants for an hour! Some places even made a big celebration out of it. Palawan’s Puerto Princesa City coordinated with their local Electric Cooperative to shut the electricity of the entire city, paired with a celebration in their baywalk area. There was acoustic music, poi dancers, and a parade in the dark led by their “green” mayor, Hon. Ed Hagedorn. Their streets were lined with lamps made of recycled materials (see #1). In Cebu, over 1000 stakeholders gathered at the SM City Cebu to share their collective support for Earth Hour. This year, the Philippines wants to raise the numbers. We’re aiming for fifteen million Filipinos from one thousand towns, cities, and municipalities to turn their lights off.

So much of what we do seems to depend on technology and electricity, but there’s also a lot to do when the lights are off. Here are five things you and your friends can do during Earth Hour:

  1. Make your own lamp from recycled materials. Look for a used bottle and fill it up with equal amounts of rock salt and cooking oil (preferably used, to keep in line with the recyclable materials). Roll a piece of cotton into a small ball, dip the other end of the cotton to the mixture, and light the tip. Voila! If you’d like to try making a funky homemade lava lamp, learn how at http://www.education.com/activity/article/Make_Homemade_Lava_Lamp/.
  2. You’re never too old to play games. Revisit your childhood by playing patintero and/or taguan (hide-and-seek) under the sky. While you’re at it, why don’t you invent silly games? The sillier, the better. A crazy and fun suggestion is to pick a theme and draw in the dark. Use crayons, cray-pas, watercolor… Pick your medium. When the clock strikes 9:30PM, turn on the lights and see whose drawing is the “best.”
  3. Take advantage of the dark and spook each other out. Exchange the worst (meaning the best) ghost stories you know. After all, the scariest creatures come out at night…
  4. How long has it been since you used the landline instead of texting or calling using your cellphone? Dial a friend’s home number, go old school and “make telebabad.”
  5. There’s such a thing as “light pollution” which comes from the excessive use of artificial light. This makes the stars invisible. According to the calendar, the full moon is a couple of days away from Earth Hour, meaning there will be plenty of moonlight on March 27. Roll out that banig, lay down beneath the sky, and gaze at the stars. There is always light in the midst of darkness.

Let’s all get together and Vote Earth on March 27, 2010 by turning off your lights from 8:30-930 PM.