THE power crisis and rotating brownouts, especially in Mindanao, should be an added incentive for Filipinos to appreciate and support Earth Hour on March 27, Malacañang said Saturday.

Deputy presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo said the brownouts should make Filipinos appreciate more the need to conserve power, which he said is the message of Earth Hour.

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“Recent brownouts have driven home the message that we must conserve power. Because of this, we support the conservation of power, which is the message of Earth Hour,” he said in a radio interview.

He added President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself had been very vocal about energy conservation and caring for the environment.

“The president takes the lead in energy conservation and environmental protection,” he said.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) expects at least 15 million Filipinos to be part of the one billion people worldwide who will switch off their lights for one hour for the environment on March 27.

WWF said the switch-off at 8:30 p.m. on March 27 will be the highlight of Earth Hour, which is on its third year.

“(In 2009), over 10 million Filipinos in 647 towns, cities and municipalities joined in – more than anywhere else on Earth. This year Earth Hour Philippines aims for the participation of over 15 million Filipinos in over 1000 towns and cities nationwide. Globally, 807 cities, towns and cities in 82 countries across every continent have already signed up,” WWF said in a statement on its website.

It added many of the nation’s most iconic landmarks are expected to dim their lights in the largest call for action on climate change. Cities from around the world, from Europe to Africa, are expected to join in.

Earth Hour was crafted to take a stand against climate change. It became a worldwide phenomenon in 2008 and 2009. The Philippines placed first in this event globally in terms of town and city participation.

In 2009, it inspired over 10 million Filipinos in 647 cities and municipalities to switch their lights off, saving an estimated 611 megawatt-hours of electricity – equivalent to shutting down a dozen coal-fired power-plants for an hour.

Earth Hour kick-off activities were launched in Davao and Cebu.

In Davao City, stakeholders from various sectors led by the Green Alliance for Davao, Mindanao Business Council, Save Davao Gulf Foundation and the Davao City National High School pledged collective support.

In Cebu, over 1,000 stakeholders gathered at the SM City Cebu to share their collective support for Earth Hour.

The Earth Hour Philippines road show, led by Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, is set to visit Iloilo, Baguio, Ilocos Norte, Laguna, Bicol, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Tuguegarao and Clark.

“Earth Hour is a simple act that emphasizes the importance of adopting energy efficient practices and lifestyles. Given ever-increasing energy demands, we must be mindful of the need to control human-induced global warming and adopting more responsible energy practices. This will allow us to bestow upon future generations a world that they deserve,” Reyes said.

Since Earth Hour 2009, each of the Earth Hour allies has advocated for the adoption of renewable energy technologies and energy-efficient practices.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to the Philippines. We could lose 2000 isles to sea level rise alone – a scenario which could be made worse by dwindling natural resources,” said Earth Hour Philippines National Director Yeb Saño.

“Luckily, Filipinos have a unique Bayanihan spirit – a brotherhood of kinship that unites people. Through the message of Earth Hour – that it’s time to think of solutions now – we stand a good chance of adapting to climate change,” Saño said.

Earth Hour Philippines calls on private corporations, local groups, schools and the entire nation to participate in the event by switching off lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Photos and videos of Earth Hour celebrations may also be sent to kkp@wwf.org.ph for documentation.

“Each Filipino’s participation will go a long way in spreading the message that working collectively – people can create an impetus far more powerful than the mightiest of rivers. For more information, please log on to www.earthhour.org or email ehp2010secretariat@gmail.com. Don’t forget to sign-up atwww.greenarmynetwork.net/earthhour2010,” WWF said. (JMR/Sunnex