From the Press

Private-Public Collaboration (April 2, 2009) by René Azurin

For the past four weeks, I have been an involved witness to an extraordinary example of private sector groups working side-by-side with an agency of government. If there had been a way, during this period, for me to have blocked out news of presidential sons pushing charter change or public bidding committees handing out contracts for more overpriced equipment, I might have even believed that I had somehow been magically transported to another country.

Still, the experience provided a glimpse of how the hardening barriers that divide us citizens from our government can melt away when the officials of a government agency share with civil society groups a sincere dedication to a worthy cause. When public officials actually move to a beat not dictated by distrusted politicos, genuine collaboration between the private sector and the public sector remains possible and the nation as a whole benefits greatly.

To Secretary Angelo Reyes and his team at the Department of Energy is owed much of the spectacular nationwide response to Earth Hour 2009 that saw more than 10 million Filipinos in 647 cities and towns – No.1 worldwide – throughout the country switch off their lights for one hour last Saturday evening in solidarity with the rest of the world in the campaign to avert global warming. Although Earth Hour is a private sector initiative – led globally by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and locally by WWF-Philippines, the Green Army Network Foundation (of which I am a part), and the SWITCH movement – it needs to be conceded that the hugely successful social mobilization for it was due in large measure to the energy of the Energy secretary. Credit must be given where it is due.

Definitely, it would not have been possible for us in the private sector to get the officials of 647 cities and towns to commit to the project in the time available without Secretary Reyes’s personal interventions at various stages of the mobilization process. Moreover, the non-government organizations that chose to follow his lead in the overall effort did so readily because of his passion for environmental causes (demonstrated when he was Environment secretary) and his obvious enthusiasm for the energy-saving project. In addition, it was his detailed organization of the entire massive effort that made the execution of this landmark event unfold as smoothly as it finally did. It certainly was not easy to coordinate the myriad activities of all the private groups that took part – the environmentalist groups, civil society groups, religious groups, youth groups, business groups, professional associations, homeowners’ associations, etc. – with those of public officials all over the country.

In essence, Earth Hour was a global appeal to world leaders – who will meet in Copenhagen this December in a Climate Change Conference to craft the successor to the expiring Kyoto Protocol – to take decisive action on climate change. Secretary Reyes expressed it very well: “This was a symbolic act, a declaration that you can take the future into your hands and change the world. What next? What should come next is action at every scale of human organization.” Those sound to me like the words of a planetary statesman.

     I might be amused, if it weren’t so potentially catastrophic, that some people still try to peddle the notion that man’s spewing some 31 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year – 46% higher than the yearly spewing rate in 1990 – is not going to cause us any harm. That’s pretty much like saying that living in an enclosed space with a car whose motor is running will not damage one’s health. I guess some people tend to overlook the fact that the Earth is an enclosed space. Even if the planet itself possesses regenerative powers that will allow it to recover – in time – from whatever damage a blundering mankind might inflict, there is no similar assurance that our species will survive our own follies.

Fortunately, the efforts of such naysayers did nothing to stem the global outpouring of support for the save-energy initiative. What began in Sydney in 2007 has turned into a truly worldwide phenomenon with an estimated one billion people in 3,943 communities in 88 countries across 24 time zones switching off their lights at precisely 8:30 pm (local time) of March 28th in a united call for action on climate change and energy conservation. The “Vote for Earth” was unmistakable even without automated counting. In the Philippines, approximately 611 million watt-hours of energy were saved.

“Efficiency in energy use in the light of global warming is an issue that cuts across all sectors,” Secretary Reyes stressed in an interview. He pointed out that recent developments, like the recent passage of the Renewable Energy Act, should transform the energy sector and cause an eventual shift to “green” technologies: “This should encourage power companies to now use clean and indigenous sources like the wind, the sun, and the ocean waves to generate our electricity.” Work at the Energy Department is being hurried apace along this road.

I do not think it is too much for us citizens to demand that the people who wield government power in this country think and act for our benefit rather than for theirs. Sadly, though, this is no longer commonly the case at the highest echelons of our government where self-aggrandizement and the preservation of personal power have become the main preoccupations, and dishonesty and incompetence the dominant traits. Sadly also, the example of an honest and hardworking public servant like the often brusque Angelo Reyes is easily lost on the public, hidden in the malignant profusion of smiling, smooth-talking, corrupt mediocrities. Civil society groups who are privy to his secret should spread the word that there are still trustworthy public servants like him in this badly governed country. If there were more, we might see more private sector-public sector collaborations even beyond the scale of Earth Hour 2009. Then, we might entertain a bit more optimism about this country’s future.



Nationwide Support for Earth Hour Mounts

Earth Hour Press Release


Various organizations—representing civil society, the business community, the religious sector, the youth, national agencies and local governments—have committed their full support for Earth Hour, the global expression of a desire for serious and sustained action on global warming.

Filipinos from all walks of life and in all key cities are being urged to turn off their lights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on March 28 as part of this worldwide movement, which last year saw the involvement of 371 cities across 35 countries.

In the Philippines, the effort is being led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) in cooperation with the Department of Energy (DOE), the Green Army Philippines Network, and the SWITCH movement.

“We have to act now if we are to halt, if not reverse, the dangerous momentum of climate change,” explained Lory Tan, President and CEO of WWF-Philippines. “Earth Hour gives us the vehicle to show how simple acts—like turning off a light switch—can make a difference if we act together to fight global warming.”

“In this time of global crisis, it is vital that we seek causes that unite, rather than divide,” DOE Secretary Angelo T. Reyes added, “and fighting global warming through best energy practices is an excellent opportunity for all of us, regardless of creed, social status, or political affiliation to come together.”

Taking corporate involvement one step deeper, Earth Hour Philippines organizers are aligning the event with climate-friendly energy initiatives through the SWITCH movement, the social mobilization platform of multi-sector energy stakeholders spawned by the 2008 Philippine Energy Summit.

Beyond sponsoring a one-day event, potential national partners are being urged to support SWITCH initiatives over a full year. These initiatives include community-level switches to efficient lighting; cleaner transport fuels and technologies for jeepneys and tricycles; and area-based renewable energy (RE) groundwork-setting and promotion.

“By linking Earth Hour with SWITCH, we hope to make people realize that the symbolic act of switching off their lights for an hour on March 28 is but the start of a broader imperative to change our lifestyles and energy practices for the survival of our planet,” Secretary Reyes said.

"Climate change realities require a drastic change in the way we live,” declared former Miss Universe Margie Moran-Floirendo, an Earth Hour Ambassador. “For starters, we need to ask what we can do to help adapt to climate change and help slow it down.  Switching off our lights, even for an hour on March 28 is a good start because by our collective action, we will be sending a very powerful message to the rest of the world that we are taking a stand on global warming. We need to use cleaner forms of energy. Even the way we build our houses will need to change."

Earth Hour 2009 aims to reach one billion people in 1,000 cities all over the world. In December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen to agree on a post-Kyoto policy for tackling climate change. One billion people voting with their light switch during Earth Hour will create a powerful mandate for world leaders to take strong and decisive action on climate change in Copenhagen.

To help reach this goal, a global sign-up campaign and competition is again being launched worldwide. Last year, the Philippines ranked 9th in terms of total sign-ups at the Earth Hour website  

The Earth Hour campaign is already generating a strong online presence: every seven seconds a new mention about Earth Hour appears on the web; Earth Hour social profiles have over 230,000 friends and followers with a new connection every 20 seconds; and an Earth Hour video is viewed every 20 seconds online.

Among Earth Hour’s high-profile international advocates are Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actress Cate Blanchett, and corporate tycoon Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.

Earth Hour Philippines 2009 hopes to involve 10 million Filipinos and 500 businesses in key cities across the country. To achieve this goal, WWF, DOE, the Green Army, and the SWITCH movement are touching base with networks and organizations across the country.

To date, the following institutions have signified their support for Earth Hour: ABS-CBN, Apostleship of the Sea, Archdiocese of Cebu, Archdiocese of Manila, Association of Foundations, Ayala Land Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands, Body Shop, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, BusinessWorld Publishing, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, Cemex, Center for Migrant Advocacy, Center for Overseas Workers, Chevron Geothermal Philippines Holdings Inc.,, Coalition for Bicol Development NGOs, Department of Education, Don Bosco Youth Center – Tondo, Earth Day Network, Earth Institute Asia, Inc.,  El Nido Resorts, Energy Development Corporation, Federation of Philippine Industries, Filinvest Alabang, First Gen Corporation, First Philippine Holdings, Gawad Kalinga, Girl Scouts of the Philippines, Globaltronics, Globe Telecoms, Google, Habitat for Humanity Philippines, Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, HP, HSBC, Institute for Solidarity in Asia, Intramuros Administration, Jebsen & Jessen, Klima, Knights of Columbus, Lafarge, League of Corporate Foundations, Leo Burnett, Luzon Hydro Corporation, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Manila Jaycees, Manila Ocean Park, Mano Amiga, Meralco, Mindanao Business Council, Mindanao Coalition of Development NGOs, Miriam College, Mother Earth Foundation, National Confederation of Cooperatives, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, National Electrification Administration, National Historical Institute, National Parks Development Committee, National Ulama Council of the Philippines, Nokia Philippines, Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines, Petron Corporation, Philippine Association of Building Administrators, Philippine Biosciences, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Green Building Council, Philippine Jaycees, Philippine Lighting Industry Association, Philippine Ports Authority, Philippine Sugar Millers Association,  Philippine Wood Producers Association, Philips, Pilipinas Shell Corporation, REACT Philippines, Renewable Energy Coalition, Ricoh, Shangri-la Hotels, SM Supermalls, Smart Communications, Soroptimist International, Starbucks, Sun Power, Sustainable Development Solutions for Asia and the Pacific Youth, Tetra Pak, The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS), Toyota Motors, UNESCO Club Metro Manila, UNIFEM, USAID Energy and Clean Air Project, Victory Christian Fellowship, Word and Life Publications, World Youth Alliance, YMCA, and YWCA.

Local governments have also started signing up to do their part for Earth Hour. Among the early advocates are the cities of Caloocan, Cebu, Digos, Las Piñas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Mandaue, Manila, Marikina, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Quezon, Tagaytay, Taguig, Tuguegarao, and Valenzuela; the municipality of Pateros, and the provinces of Bukidnon, Marinduque and Misamis Oriental.

How to sign up

To register your participation in Earth Hour, go to

How to get mobile phone updates

To receive Earth Hour news updates and event schedules, register your cellphone number by sending this message to 5777 for both Smart and Globe users: green <space> reg <space> firstname <slash> middlleinitial <slash> lastname.

Example: green  reg  Juan/C/De la Cruz.


Background Information

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) was established in 1961by a few eminent gentlemen who were worried by what they saw happening in the world. Since then, more than 1,300 conservation projects underway in various countries, including the Philippines. Mostly focusing on local issues, these WWF-supported projects range from school nature gardens in Zambia to advocacy initiatives that appear in the packaging of commercial merchandise, from the restoration of orangutan habitats to the establishment of giant panda reserves. WWF works through multi-sector partnerships at the global and local levels.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is mandated by Republic Act 7638 to prepare, integrate, coordinate, supervise and control all plans, programs, projects and activities of the Government relative to energy exploration, development, utilization, distribution and conservation. In partnership with other energy stakeholders, it seeks to improve the quality of life of the Filipino by formulating and implementing policies and programs to ensure sustainable, stable, secure, sufficient, accessible and reasonably-priced energy. The DOE is committed to pursue national development through the two-fold agenda of attaining energy independence and implementing power market reforms.

The Green Army Philippines Network Foundation envisions a healed planet with people living in harmony with all of creation and undertakes projects, such as the Green Philippine Highways and the Trees for Life program, which manifest responsible stewardship through integrated local action for environmental protection, conservation, and restoration. A launching base for green initiatives requiring widespread social mobilization, the Green Army collaborates with government agencies, the church, the private sector, the academe, and civil society in protecting and nurturing the environment. It focuses on projects that would help communities empower themselves through their concerted action.

SWITCH is a social mobilization movement, spawned by the 2008 Philippine Energy Summit, which seeks to demonstrate how ordinary Filipinos and specific sectors of Philippine society can contribute substantively—through fundamental changes in lifestyle, behavior or standard practices—to the massive effort needed to address the dire consequences of unstable oil prices and climate change. Launched in July 2008, SWITCH is designed to: a) make energy programs of both the government and the private sector more participative for better appreciation, acceptance and involvement among key stakeholders; b) accelerate and scale up the adoption of best energy practices that are simple but strategic; and c) lay the institutional foundation to sustain best energy practices on the ground.

Earth Hour official sign-up website:
EarthHour Philippines operations center hotlines: Tel(632) 840-2134; 812-5974
EarthHour materials download website:,

100 ‘Ramons’ to plant trees for former president Magsaysay

August 19, 2007 - Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- The biggest gathering of “Ramons” will take place tomorrow in honor of perhaps their most esteemed namesake -- the late President Ramon Magsaysay -- during the launch of a tree-planting initiative led by environment groups.

It’s raining Ramons on Magsaysay Day

August 21, 2007 - Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- Ramon Rodriguez. Ramon Santos. Ramon Gil Macapagal. Lucito Ramon Bertol. Ramon Dondi. Ramon Borromeo. Ramon Aldea. Ramoncito Campos. Ramon Cardenas. Ramon Diaz. Ramoncito Ramos. Ramon Sales. Ramon Tulfo.

The list goes on.

Over 30 “Ramons” from different fields Monday turned up at the launch of a project to plant 100,000 trees across the country in memory of the late President Ramon Magsaysay.

100 Ramons to plant 100,000 trees for Magsaysay’s 100th b’day

August 15, 2007 - GMANews.TV

Are you Ramon? Do you love to plant trees? You can join your other namesakes in planting trees for Ramon Magsaysay, the president of the third Republic of the Philippines, who will be celebrating his 100th birthday on August 31.

The Green Army Philippines Network Foundation, Inc said in a statement that 100 Ramons from all walks of life will plant 100,000 trees to mark the former president’s centennial birthday.

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