Here in the Philippines, it’s “Tag-init”, the hot season that lasts from now until the monsoon hits in May.

Since a lot of our power is hydroelectric, that means less power available at a time when everyone has their airconditioner on.  The result is loss of electricity. Brownouts are not uncommon here: The electricity has been going off and on for the last few days, but if the current goes off for too long, we have a generator. But as the season gets hotter, the brownouts will become more common, and soon we will start having “rolling brownouts” on certain days as a way of electrical rationing.

Sometimes it gets so bad Manila just shuts down for the day and sends everyone home from the offices.

Electricity however is a godsend, meaning fewer burnt children from candles or kerosene lamps falling over, less crime, and fans (and airconditioners) when it’s hot. It also means TV’s and radios, so people using “natural family planning” have something else to do in the evening.

But of course, the powers that be that see Global warming as a religion see lights and comfort as the enemy. That light bulb is destroying the planet.

So even though we are in a rural city, we too had our “turn out the lights” to save Gaia from Global warming.

Towns and cities around the Philippines and all over the world flicked off their light switches for one hour from 8 p.m. Saturday evening during the observance of Earth Hour, a global movement aiming to show the impact of global warming and climate change, specifically the impact of intensive energy use.

In Manila, the street lights were turned off, and the police were worried that this would cause an increase in home burglaries, but since it was just for an hour, they used it as an excuse to party in the streets.

Here we are a small town, but sure enough there was a band playing and lots of people having a grand time at the nearby town square, so it was noisy and happy (and dark) outside.

My husband Lolo is a believer in conserving energy, so he was gung ho about it: He went out and turned off most of our security lights, even turning off the lights in the dining room where Kuya and his wife were having a late supper. With no lights, we could be robbed, so we left the dogs out of their house early, so they were happily barking at the kids going to and fro to the party at the town square.

I’m too old to party, and with no lights, I can’t read, so I went to bed with my mp3 player instead. Lolo, however, decided to watch TV. So much for saving energy.

So everyone is happy. The dogs got left out early, Lolo feels self righteous for turning off the lights, and me, I just feel guilty.

Don’t tell Lolo, but I left the Airconditioner/dehumidifier on.

I figure, with the choice between sleeping comfortably or being hot and wheezing from the humidity, I’ll chose an aircon any day.

We eat locally, walk for shopping, recycle, limit our use of electricity and travel, but  you have to draw the line somewhere.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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