By Chuck Baclagon
Over the weekend, we joined the climate activists and faith communities which celebrated Earth Hour in Malate Catholic Church with a call to go beyond the hour by going fossil-free.
Through the years, Earth Hour has become an expression of unanimity and solidarity for a more sustainable path to progress, with millions of people across the globe taking part in the initiative every year.
We spent an hour with the Malate Church parishioners, members of the Global Catholic climate Movement Pilipinas, and fellow activists in contemplation with music and dance, with the event lit up by solar power systems, serving as beacons of hope amidst the darkness of a world engulfed in a climate crisis.
It was there in the dark church yard, illuminated by glimmering lights that came from the torches and LED lights, that we celebrated our struggle with short speeches about the current state of the climate movement and the role of the church in it, emphasizing the urgency in heeding both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, as Pope Francis phrased it in his landmark encyclical Laudato Si.
It was followed with music and dancing to the enchanting tunes of Philippine folk songs and indigenous dances, ending with the whole community dancing as we neared the end of the 60 minutes.
For me, that’s the power that can be found in harnessing ritual for both individual catharsis and collective expression – whether it is to recommit to a cause, find courage, voice dissent, or build trust.
The inspiring feeling that we all had that night, in Malate Church and in other places around the world which celebrated Earth Hour, must be translated into daily actions that would contribute to the global movement dedicated to combating the threat of climate change.
The 60-minute lights-off is but the first step towards a long journey to a near future, where Earth Hour would no longer be needed for us to act to turn the world upside-down.
It is a call for a sustained and conscious effort to become real agents of change in the struggle to switch on a fossil-free world by pursuing energy transformation, fossil-fuel divestment and climate justice.