‘Solar light’ cheers revelersBy Madonna Virola
Inquirer Southern Luzon
CITY OF CALAPAN—Known to have lit up thousands of impoverished homes in Metro Manila, the innovative and ecofriendly “solar bulbs” or “solar light bottles” awed the revelers who flocked to Oriental Mindoro’s provincial capitol on December 1.
Local executives unveiled a 22-foot-high Christmas tree fashioned from green 1.5-liter plastic soda bottles, much to the delight of thousands of Calapeños, who came in droves, their children in tow, to gaze at the giant holiday decor glowing against the night sky.
Alongside the Christmas tree, a snowman just as tall and 10 slightly smaller snowballs, also produced from recycled litro bottles, decked the capitol grounds.
The solar bulbs, more than 15,000 of them, were first used to make the giant balls that lit up the stage of a local beauty search, the 2011 Search for Miss Oriental Mindoro, spearheaded by the Miss Oriental Mindoro Charities Inc. (MOMCI).
Ronald King, the creative director of the search held on November 13 at the Alfonso Umali Sr. Memorial Gymnasium to mark the province’s foundation anniversary, said it took the volunteers three days to finish each of the balls used.
Since the pageant was held in the evening, a few fluorescent bar lights were installed inside the balls to reflect their light at night, said King.
“If the organizers used to spend P50,000 for the stage, we spent only around P20,000 this time. We spent a small amount to buy the nylons to bind the bottles,” he said.
These same balls were reused for the snowman decor for the display in the capitol grounds in time for Christmas.
King said the lighted fluorescent bars placed behind the bottom of the soda bottles produced star-shaped lights that were perfect for the nighttime Christmas display.
King said the idea for the solar bulbs was first hatched during a meeting of the MOMCI when they thought of cheap but innovative lights that would tap the help of the communities.
Hiyas Govinda Ramos-Dolor, MOMCI president and wife of Vice Governor Humerlito Dolor, helped King come up with the stage design for the pageant night.
Ramos-Dolor got the support of her mother-in-law Estrellita Dolor, the schools’ division superintendent in Oriental Mindoro, who asked the Girl Scouts in the province to help collect empty 1.5-liter soda bottles from their schools.
“Trucks of soda bottles coming from as far as the southernmost town in Mindoro arrived in Calapan so that we even had a surplus of 15,000,” said King.
Light for Mangyan
“While we were preparing the solar bulbs, one volunteer told us what we were doing was being done in a poor community in Payatas in Quezon City,” said King.
“So we thought we’d also share this with the Mangyans,” he said.
His research on the Internet pointed to the work of Illac Diaz’s My Shelter Foundation which seeks to provide an economically and ecologically sustainable light source for households in the Philippines.
MOMCI learned that the solar bulb could light a darkened room like a 60-watt bulb does.
After New Year, the solar bulbs, plus another batch of 15,000 bottles, which were surplus bottles from the last pageant, would be installed in the houses of Mangyans so they could have light without any expense, King said.
Each house would be fitted with two to three solar bulbs. The Boy Scouts would be asked to fix the solar bulbs and ready them for installation by members of MOMCI, government employees and volunteers.
Through the project, “we wish to provide the island of Mindoro with a sustainable light source and brighter tomorrow,” said King.