Over 1,200 people attend Earth Hour celebration in QC

Over 1,200 people attended the celebration of Earth Hour 2023 at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City on Saturday, March 25.

The celebration of Earth Hour is held annually to encourage everyone to switch off non-essential electric lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. It is considered one of the largest global grassroots movements for nature with over 7,000 participating cities from 193 countries.

The Quezon City government hosted the country's Earth Hour celebration this year.

In partnership with World Wide Fund for Nature- Philippines (WWF-PH), the local government set up a pre-switch-off program hosted by WWF-PH ambassadors: Janine Gutierrez, Mikee Jaworski, and Karen Ibasco.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, in her address, shared the city's environmental initiatives over the recent years.

"Way back in 2019, nagdeklara na ang ating City Council ng climate emergency (our City Council declared a climate emergency) We are the very first city in the Philippines to declare a climate emergency. At dahil nagdeklara po tayo ng climate emergency ay nagkaroon po tayo ng justification to allocate more funds towards addressing the climate crisis (And because we declared a climate emergency, we had a justification to allocate more funds towards addressing the climate crisis)," she said.

Belmonte said 30 percent of the city's budget is allocated to projects and programs that directly address climate change.

"If there is any city in this country that is fully committed to addressing the climate crisis, it is Quezon City," she added.

As the city's local chief executive, Belmonte also stated her vows and commitment to supporting climate change.

The mayor promised that all public structures in the city will be solarized by 2030. She said three of the city's public hospitals will be solarized this year.

"Every year magdadagdag nang magdadag kami ng mga gusali na isosolarize. Next year ang mga public school dahil marami kaming public schools, 159 sila, syempre uunti-untiin nation 'yan kasi magastos pero kahit magastos, it is all worth it because at the end of the day we are going to be protecting our planet (Every year, we will add more buildings to solarize. Public schools will be solarized next year and because we have many public schools, a total of 159, the city will install solar panel one at a time, because it is expensive. But even if it is expensive, it is all worth it because at the end of the day, we are going to be protecting our planet)," Belmonte said.

Belmonte also encouraged all national and city governments to also install solar panels in their public structures to adapt to the production of renewable energy.

The mayor also vowed that she will increase the city's 650 urban farms to 1,000 in the coming months.

"By planting vegetable gardens, we are actually lessening the number of trucks coming from the provinces that bring vegetables to the city. Lahat ng mga trucks na iyan nag-eemit ng carbon emissions (All those trucks emit carbon emissions)," Belmonte said.

The local chief executive also announced the launch of a bike park for the Earth Month celebration in April.

She said the city government converted the former Payatas Controlled Disposal Facility (PCDF) into an eco-friendly park for cyclists.

The mayor pledged to build drinking water fountains in all city public schools and parks.

Meanwhile, Climate Change Commission of the Philippines Executive Director Robert Borje, WWF-PH Director Katherine Custodio, and Earth Hour Director Atty. Angela Ibay expressed their gratitude to the city government for its unwavering support and efforts toward achieving climate change.

Booths showcasing eco-friendly products were installed by non-government organizations around the premises of Liwasang Aurora, to promote their environmental advocacies.

Special performances from Antoinette Taus and Jeremiah Tiangco also entertained the audience.

The city government also held a bike ride event "Padyak ng Kababaihan Para sa Kalikasan" on Saturday morning in conjunction with National Women's Month, where over 200 women participated in the 8.5-km bike ride.