Making More Filipinos Realize What Earth Hour is About

Earth Hour 2014 just finished a few hours ago.

I started celebrating Earth Hour in 2010 by turning off as much light and electricity in the house as I could, without my family’s help. I would remind them every year about celebrating it until 2012. In 2013, they remembered it without my reminder and voluntarily turned the lights and electricity off. This year I spent it walking around the village with my youngest sibling. I noticed that while many homes participated, a good number also had their lights on.

I’m hardly critical of social movements because of their good intentions. But for all the publicity Earth Hour has earned over the years, and even the country’s placement as top participant in Earth Hour in recent years, proper and clear communication on how Earth Hour helps address issues of global warming and climate change and effective longer term calls-to-action have yet to be realized at least here in the Philippines. Many people know that it’s a way to save a few centavos or pesos from the electric bill, but I think many people don’t see the connection between reduced energy use, global warming and climate change in a simple and clear way. Even if I know the connection because of my growing exposure to environmental issues, I am still finding it a bit difficult to articulate. I also have not seen a widespread campaign both digital and traditional grassroots in nature that teaches people from all walks of life on how to practice energy efficiency.

It’s a great campaign so it would be even more greater to see people use their cause-oriented energies to make it truly more meaningful through practice.

Building More Trust in Nonprofits in the Pork Barrel Scam Aftermath

Nonprofits

Since my university days, I have worked for development. Though I am not formally learned about the field, it is something that I have been exposed to so much, that it was the nonprofits that I first thought of and worried about when the pork barrel scam first broke out.

The number of legit nonprofits in the Philippines is large, and this counts both those that belong to a global network, and those that are local. Operation Smile, Childfund and World Wildlife Fund are just a few of those that are international but have local offices. Philippine Business for Education, Education Network (E-Net), Synergeia, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Probe Productions’ Mulat Pinoy, Diksyunaryo Atbp., and Kanlungan Pilipinas are just some of the hundreds of legit nonprofits that have programs that seek to address issues in education, health and social issues in general.

Since the scam broke out, the government has decided to ban funding nonprofits. People have been more wary of giving for fear that their donations will go to the wrong hands. From what I see, international and local funding agencies might increase their parameters on giving. Because of the pork barrel scam, these legit nonprofits are being negatively affected. There is a loss of trust not just in the government but also partly in this part of civil society. This is something that is problematic for the development sector, which finds it hard to access funding, even prior to the scam. The coexistence of bogus nonprofits have made things difficult for the legit ones in the years preceding this scam, and even more now. I remember seeing a post on social media asking for donations for victims in the Zamboanga armed conflict, and every one of those who commented criticized the foundation, saying immediately that it was bogus. And the group ridiculed is a globally-affiliated Buddhist faith-based foundation that people are harping on. Sad.

But all is not lost. Definitely!

Now how should legit nonprofits address this? Should they wave signs saying “We are legit! Please donate!”? No, because that would be a hard sell. Many nonprofits already suffer from looking like hard sellers. However, the good thing is that legit nonprofits are largely engaging in nature and have already been building trust with the public. Their programs are promoted through quad media, and financial reports are made available to their members, and for some, even to the public. Given that they are already transparent, then what I think has to be done, is to make themselves even more transparent through the proper utilization of social media and even traditional media, and encourage people more to volunteer in their programs in order to see what they are doing.

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