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Lights go out in over 7,000 cities worldwide

Lights went off in thousands of cities and towns across the world, including the Philippines, on Saturday for the annual Earth Hour campaign, which is aiming to raise money via the Internet for local environmental projects.

Led by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Earth Hour is an annual global event during which individuals, businesses and governments turn off non-essential lights for an hour to signify commitment on helping save the planet from climate change and other environmental challenges.

Earth Hour , Spider Man , Manila Bulletin,

THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT (EPA) – Persons dressed as comic character Spider Man join other people observing the Earth Hour event in Singapore as lights of the city’s skyline are dimmed to mark the occasion.

For the 2014 Philippine Earth Hour celebration on March 29, lights off was set from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The WWF said Earth Hour was observed in more than 7,000 cities and towns worldwide, including a number of those in the Philippines.

The worldwide event “has always been more than just about turning lights off – it’s about people from all walks of life coming together throughout the year to show what they can do to protect the planet,” WWF cited Earth Hour Co-Founder and CEO Andy Ridley as saying.

Earlier, WWF reported the Philippines has been heralded as an “Earth Hour Hero Country” for topping Earth Hour global participation levels from 2009 to 2013.

The Philippines contributed over 1,500 of the world’s 7,000 Earth Hour hubs for 2012, WWF said.

The Singapore-based campaign by WWF was boosted by Hollywood star power, with ”The Amazing Spiderman-2” stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx leading ceremonies at the city-state’s Marina Bay district.

Comic-book hero Spiderman is this year’s ”ambassador” for Earth Hour, which was launched in Sydney in 2007.  Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge were among the first landmarks around the world to dim their lights for 60 minutes during Saturday’s event.

An estimated 7,000 cities and towns from New Zealand to New York are taking part.

Hong Kong’s stunning waterfront skyline was unrecognizable on Saturday evening, with the city’s tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Centre, stripped of the vast light show usually wrapped around its 118 stories.

Blazing neon signs advertising some of the world’s largest brands were shut off, leaving the view of the heavily vertical southern Chinese city peppered only with tiny lights from buildings’ interiors.

Earth Hour partnered with payments giant PayPal to allow donors to contribute to specific projects from Russia and India to Canada and Indonesia, using Asian fundraising site Crowdonomic.

Earth Hour chief executive Andy Ridley said before the lights went off in Singapore that the event had moved beyond symbolism to concrete action.

”If you want to get real social change you need to have symbolism,” he told AFP.

”We are seeing some really big outcomes.”

Projects under the ”Earth Hour Blue” crowd-funding scheme — which aim to raise more than $650,000 in total — include a turtle center in Italy and funding for forest rangers in Indonesia.

The event was marked in more than 150 countries, organizers said, with thousands of cities and towns taking part by the time the ceremonies began in Singapore.

Fiberglass Boat

The projects seeking crowd-funding include a $24,000 effort in the Philippines to bring fiberglass boat technology to coastal communities affected by super-typhoon “Yolanda” in November last year.

In Nepal, $100,000 is being sought for a program called ”A Flame Called Hope” to provide access to biogas energy for 150 households in the Terai region, reducing the need for wood as fuel and helping protect the habitat of endangered wildlife, according to the Earth Hour website.

Spiderman-2 star Garfield told journalists that he was a personal supporter of the Nepal project.

”What they are doing is turning waste into energy, it’s like the cycle of life right there, if only everyone knew how simple it was,” he said.

Earth Hour also saw other landmarks including the Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow switch off their lights for an hour starting at 8:30 p.m. local time on Saturday. (With reports from PNA, AFP, Freddie C. Velez and Jonas Reyes)