Passing the torch: Youth to lead upcoming Earth Hour in PH

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2017 05:28 PM

Members and partners of the WWF - Philippines during the kickoff of Earth Hour Philippines with their mascot, Chi Chi the Panda. Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A group of young people will lead this year's celebration of Earth Hour, an annual event that aims to raise climate change awareness among Filipinos.

This year's Earth Hour has been set on March 25, 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Alexa Cancio, chairperson of the 8-member WWF - Philippines council, said it's about time the youth get involved in environment conservation.

"This is the planet we're inheriting. This is our planet right now and we are going to deal with all the past issues and mistakes that were done before," the 25-year-old environment advocate said in a press conference Wednesday. 

WWF - Philippines National Youth Council Chairperson Alex Cancio in an interview with reporters. Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Cancio and her team will lead the ''Earth Hour Camp,'' an addition to the annual Earth Hour celebration. The free-for-all camp at the SM by the Bay, Mall of Asia Complex will open at 4:30 p.m. on March 25.

At the camp, people can learn about disaster risk reduction management, renewable energy and tree planting, and how to take small actions on local environmental concerns.

"Bringing in the youth will be beneficial. They will make everyone care about taking care of the environment. They will go beyond the youth and go to their families and friends," added Cancio. 

AN EMPOWERED YOUTH

Earth Hour Ambassadors Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski and Marc Nelson with WWF - Philippines' National Youth Council members Yza Nazal, Nikki Huang and Alex Cancio. Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

The Youth Council of WWF has done field works, and went to various schools to raise climate change awareness and teach sustainable living, said 20-year-old Youth Council member Yza Nazal.

"It's really empowering. Finally the youth has a voice," said Nazal, who balances environmental advocacy work while studying at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Another council member, 16-year-old Nikki Huang, said this year's Earth Hour Philippines would be a good opportunity for the younger generation to do more than post their advocacy on social media.

"I think throughout the years, in past initiatives, the youth has been confined in social media," she said. "Now, we can do so much more... It's the real concrete change that we can see.

Huang said this was important since the youth now has the power to take park in ensuring environment conservation, for the use of the future generation.

"That's what sustainability is about," she added.

 

The young environmental advocates said their actions go beyond the upcoming switch-off event, as they have been preparing for more outreach activities. 

"There are so many organizations trying to be involved in this cause. We need to collaborate, we need everybody's help," said Cancio.

PASSING THE TORCH

WWF - Philippines President and CEO Joel Palma at the Earth Hour 2017 kickoff press conference. Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Joel Palma, president and CEO of WWF-Philippines, recognizes the power of the youth in participating in big environmental issues, adding that more than 50% of the Filipino population is aged 24 or below.

"Years ago WWF has a tagline, 'let's leave our children a living planet.' These children are here," he said. 

"You've seen our generation take care of the environment. Now, we got to have the youth to take care of the planet," he added.

WWF - Philippines National Director Atty. Gia Ibay encouraged Filipinos to switch off electricity on Earth Hour.

WWF - Philippines National Director Atty. Gia Ibay at the Earth Hour 2017 kickoff press conference. Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

She said that more than a switch-off event, Earth Hour is a symbolic event that shows people can move together for the environment.

"We need this one single event to remind us that there is something we can actually do, and do together," she said.