Lights of Hope: WWF-Philippines Deploys Solar Lamps in Beton, Palawan

About 15 million Filipinos have no access to electricity. Living in far-flung villages which are not directly connected to power grids, they instead rely on highly-flammable kerosene to light up their homes. This lack of access to a safe, stable, and sustainable energy source hinders opportunities for social and economic advancement.

Located in the municipality of Taytay in northern Palawan, the remote island-community of Beton is home to an estimated 300 families who rely on subsistence fishing and seaweed farming for food and livelihood. The majority of them make do with living in darkness after sundown.

“Our children study and do their homework under the light of kerosene lamps, which are dangerous and expensive. We spend about PHP 150 for a month’s worth of kerosene. This amount could have been allotted for other necessities like food and school materials,” said Romela Dominguez, a mother of four.

To spark hope, top climate solutions provider World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) recently distributed solar-powered lamps to dozens of families in Beton. Solar lamps rely on the power of the sun, eliminating the need for fuel.

The units were obtained through funds raised from Gift of Light, a crowdfunding project that WWF-Philippines initiated during the Earth Hour campaign in March 2015.

Gift of Light beneficiaries raise the solar panels from their
portable solar lamp kits. These lamps rely on the power of sun which
provides them with a clean and safe light source.
(Maia Melencio / WWF)
Earth Hour is the world’s largest voluntary mass action for the environment. What started out as an annual lights-off event has grown into a movement that catalyzes environmental and social projects with tangible outcomes. Earth Hour has paved the way for online crowdfunding initiatives like Gift of Light to introduce practical yet long-term climate solutions.

Beton is a remote island-community in Northern Palawan
with no regular access to electricity. When darkness falls,
 they rely on dangerous kerosene lamps to light up their homes.
 (Maia Melencio / WWF)
Before distributing the portable solar home systems, which include two lamps each, WWF-Philippines organized an education session among Beton residents, who learned about climate change, renewable energy, and how they can maintain their new lamps.

“Renewable energy is free, safe and clean. With these lamps, there is no need to waste money on kerosene, the burning of which contributes to climate change,” said Atty. Gia Ibay, who heads WWF-Philippines’ Climate Change unit and the Earth Hour Philippines campaign.

Romela Dominguez and her children Kyla Joy, Cathy, Joys, and Nino
 can now use the free power of the sun to illuminate their homes
 at night using their solar lamps. (Maia Melencio / WWF)
Romela’s eldest daughter, sixth-grader Kyla Joy, shared, “The solar lamps capture the power of the sun during the day so that we can have a bright light source at night. With this, I am able to properly read my books, do my homework. I really hope to be a teacher one day. Thank you to the generous individuals for giving us the gift of light.”

For children who have big dreams like Kyla Joy, Gift of Light brings hope for a brighter future. 

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