Category Archives: Eureka

8th GIS Training of the UPLB Environmental Science Society

Would just like to advertise our organization’s upcoming activity, a Geographic Information System (GIS) training this February 19-21, 2016. I’m a member of the UPLB Environmental Science Society, a graduate student organization advocating environmental science in our everyday lives, and based at the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) of the University of the Philippines Los Banos. Well, if you like to spread this opportunity to your colleagues, just follow the link below.

Source: 8th GIS Training


Environmental Campaigns and Public Participation: A Theme for Analyzing Communication and Information Theories (Personal Experiences with the Earth Hour campaign)

Before going further, I would like to inform you that this post simply aims to illustrate, rather than to comprehensively point out why, since 2011, I stopped participating in ‘Earth Hour’ events.

And! I would like to assure you that I’m still conscious about a variety of environmental concerns

And! I would also like to assure you further, that, in no way am I advocating the “stoppage” of celebrating Earth Hour.

And! Also! I’m not gonna assure you anything further, but rather provide a brief background of Earth Hour, for it may as well be the reason why you’re reading this article.

Earth Hour

In 2004, World Wide Fund for Nature [WWF] Australia began conceptualizing various strategies for taking climate change in mainstream media. It was initially termed as “The Big Flick” for a large scale switch off [presumably of anything electrically-powered]. After three years, WWF-Australia inspired Sydney citizens, around 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses, in turning their lights out for one hour as a symbolic campaign against climate change. The campaign became a global phenomenon in 2008, wherein around 35 countries participated by switching their lights of from 8-9 pm in their respective time zones. [refer to Earth Hour website]

More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011. That year also ushered in a new era with the “Beyond the Hour” concept, by asking supporters to think about other ways, aside from switching off the lights, of helping save the planet. [refer to Earth Hour website again]

This 2012, Earth Hour Executive Director and Co-Founder Andy Ridley, states that, “Earth Hour’s challenge is no longer to connect people; the challenge is to offer a reason to connect. Any movement of change begins with symbolism – it’s a needed step to prove enough people care about an issue.” [Retrieved from: yes, what else but the Earth Hour website]

What Went Wrong?

So what went wrong (for me at least), that even after internalizing Earth Hour’s goal of bringing the problem of climate change in mainstream thought, I stopped observing Earth Hour? Or maybe even more precisely, is there anything wrong with my decision in the first place?

I first celebrated Earth Hour in 2009, together with fellow young ones at our local square. I was volunteering in a USAID funded program back then, and together with other organizations, we did a simple but meaningful program about why there is such a thing as Earth Hour, and how switching off lights can help reduce green house gas emissions. On a personal level, the primary goal for the event would be to raise awareness about climate change. Creating this awareness however would need a ‘bonggang’ [Tagalog] or an attention seeking event in order for the general public to notice what that thing is all about.

We assembled around 7:00 pm, as various local musicians were singing their pieces before and during the ceremonial switching off, which was from 8:30-9:30 pm. We participated in the event by singing a song, which was practiced [for what seemed like] night after night, singing the same tune, the same lyrics, with the same ear-wrecking voices. It was a miracle though that when we finally  sang our piece in March 28, people commented as though they’re hearing something so extra ordinary, angelic and inspiring. [That must be the effect when I’m NOT singing.]

Various talks were also given about climate change and Earth Hour. A covenant signing, on how one should respect and care for the earth ended the program.

The following year [2010], I made a video clip [sorry about the quality]  about how I perceived the rationale and essence of the activity, as well as inviting others in celebrating Earth Hour.

Earth Hour

That year was also my last Earth Hour celebration.

This year proved to be the same, as I stared at various tarpaulins, printed with a “60” and some panda, posted at major roads in the city last Saturday. And here I am, four days since then, blogging about these things when all I want to say could just be simply illustrated using Kuznets curve [just changed the variables]:

Environmental Campaigns and Public Participation: A Theme for Analyzing Communication and Information Theories

Yes, there’s really nothing wrong about not celebrating Earth Hour. Isn’t it that the goal in the first place was to inform mainstream media – in other words, people –  about climate change?

Apparently, what went wrong may be better understood when we think about the game also known as telephone, grapevine, broken telephone, whisper down the lane, KISU KISU (Tamil “grapevine”) Развален телефон (Bulgarian for “broken telephone”) gossip, secret message, Le téléphone arabe (French for “Arab phone”), Stille Post (German for “Silent Mail”), Gioco del Telefono (Italian for “Telephone Game“), Telefono senza fili (Italian for “Cordless Phone“), Telefone avariado (Portuguese for “Broken Phone”), Głuchy telefon (Polish for “deaf telephone”), Зламаний телефон (Ukrainian for “Broken telephone“), Глуви телефони (Serbian for “deaf telephones”), Telefonul fara fir (Romanian for “Cordless phone”), Глухой телефон (Russian for “deaf telephone”), Rikkinäinen puhelin (Finnish for “Broken telephone”), Viskleken (Swedish for “The whispering game”), Tichá pošta (Czech and Slovak for “silent mail”) and pass the message. [Whew, thanks to Wikipedia!!] As you all know how the game goes, a miscommunication occurs as the message is passed on.

Reviewing the elements of communication reminds us about senders and receivers of communication. It is very clear in Earth Hour’s history that all they had wanted to communicate was to bring climate change in mainstream media. And fortunately, we had received that message. HOWEVER, how we interpreted the message had created diverse [ranging from confusion to outright apathetic] reactions.

Yes I know, looks like the work of our kindergarten neighbor. :p

On a critical perspective, a lot of theories can be cited to explain how various environmental campaigns have affected our behavior, and its subsequent impacts on environmental quality. Such arguments can go on and on, and unfortunately, my time is up, and I have to go on a lunch break. All I know is, climate change exists, and to help minimize its adverse consequences, I would… [need I say more!?]


Here’s a WordPress blog about Pass the Message, as talked about earlier:

Pass the Message: A rather simple blog for a little exercise

A pessimistic critique of Earth Hour:

A Criticism of Earth Hour

Further discussions of Earth Hour:

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Panagbenga 2012: What happens after?

It’s the last Saturday and Sunday of February 2012, and here in Baguio City (Philippines), these days would be the grand street and grand float parades in celebration of the annual Panagbenga (Season of Blooming) or Flower Festival. Now on its 17th year, and surely, yes… there will be an 18th one. 😉

I stopped watching the parade after my high school, since (1), you’d rather walk a thousand miles than have your butt glued on the seat if you are to watch. Traffic flow is so terrible just before and after the parade. Two (2), since you’ll already be late, all you would see are heads or shoulders (even feet, depending on where you placed yourself), and occasional glimpses of the parade. So unless you have planned and reserved your viewing spot, it would be better to watch it on TV instead.

As mentioned earlier, watching the parade wasn’t that much fun (for me at least) anymore. Well, maybe I just got bored with the same dance and parade routines. Or even maybe…

It’s interesting though that I’ve been part of the parade twice already. First, when I was still young and innocent, and I knew how to, or rather was forced to, memorize the exact bars to hit on the lyre. Second time was when  I was the water man (hehe!) of a group of young souls advocating for a cleaner and greener Baguio. Anyway…

…which brings me back to another reason why I may have stopped watching the parade. At the end of the show, you’d feel somehow disappointed, exhausted and puzzled. After all the sights and sounds that flooded and excited your senses, you’d stand there and witness the outcome brought upon by the reason you were there in the first place. That after the parade, the celebration, all the oohs and the aahs, would be the sore and noisy background of emptied packs, trash, some not even inside waste sacks.

My camera was all set early Monday morning to see what’s still on display (or littered) at Athletic Bowl, where the street dancing and float parades end. These floats (the ones still left, as there were more or less than 15 floats that Sunday) have been there all night, ready to be dismantled later that day.

The popularity of Panagbenga invites participation all over the Philippines. Here you could see a float from Batangas (Angkan Batangueno)…

Parts of the floats have been vandalized, and sadly, not just the floats, but the entire cityscape. Taking the pictures below reminded me of the sore and noise; the feeling of being disappointed, exhausted and puzzled after the eye-fest. The thought of wanting to say that, “Hey, it’s good to watch, but please, manage your waste.”

Of course, all of these can’t be cleaned up immediately by these guys, unless you join them. 🙂 So where ever you go, manage that waste. Consume less, waste less. Don’t litter, hold it on a pocket until you see a sack/bag/bin. Festivals are filled with things that please the eye, not with tumbling plastic bags and empty food packs.

Until then, happy Panagbenga!

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