MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Philippines is aiming to break last year's record of 1,661 cities and municipalities that participated in Earth Hour, a worldwide campaign that aims to mitigate climate change.
Makati City's Ayala Triangle Gardens will be Earth Hour’s central hub for Luzon.
Dance troupe Bailes de Luces and the Caracol dancers will form the vanguard of an Earth-themed parade on Saturday, which will start at the Makati Fire Station and end at Ayala Tower One.
A program will then be held at the Ayala Tower One, hosted by WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Rovilson Fernandez.
The event will be highlighted by performances from ABS-CBN’s “Pilipinas Got Talent” Season 3 finalist El Gamma Penumbra, Brigada and other groups.
Earth Hour founder Andy Ridley will lead the Philippines’ main switch-off event, hosted by WWF with the help of Ayala Land and the Makati city government.
In Visayas, Cebu City's Plaza Independencia will be the campaign’s main switch-off site.
A festive street parade led by local Sinulog Dancers will be held at the Fuente Osmeña Circle from 5:30 p.m. onwards.
The Cebu switch-off event also 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.
Meanwhile, SM Davao will be the main switch-off site for Mindanao.
WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Marc Nelson will host the switch-off event at SM Davao, where a tribal-themed parade will be held.
Black-light and fire dancers will perform for the crowd once the city plunges into darkness.
The Davao event is in collaboration with SM Supermalls, the Green Alliance and the Davao city government.
According to Ridley, the campaign began in Australia in 2007 and this year, more than 500 cities around the world will participate in switching off the lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday (Manila time).
“Millions of people took part and it sent an incredibly strong message,” said Ridley.
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, which is equivalent to a temporary shutdown of a dozen coal-fired power plants.
In 2010, 1,076 Philippine towns and cities participated, more than enough to retain the title.
The Earth Hour, now in its 6th year, began as a single-city initiative in 2007 in Sydney, Australia.
The campaign was simple but it has grown to become “the world's largest demonstration of support for action on carbon pollution.”
Organizers said a total of 5,251 cities took part in 2011, as the movement reached 1.8 billion people in 135 countries.
Newcomers to the initiative include Libya and Iraq.
This year, the International Space Station will watch over the event as it rolls across the globe.
“There is no better way to raise awareness for the future of the most beautiful planet in the universe,” said Andre Kuipers, an astronaut who will share photos and live commentary as he views Earth Hour from space. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse