In the Philippines, living off the grid means that you probably aren't reading this article right now-- you don't have any of the technology it takes to browse the internet, power a computer or charge a phone. Heck, you can't even operate a fridge, a microwave, an electric fan, and you sure don't have any lights to switch on. If brownouts are a pain in the neck, what's it like living without electricity or running water all your life?

aeta hike for light
Aeta native and an outdoor solar lamp

If water and electricity are among our most basic social needs, then why is it that so many of us live in darkness? Several areas of the Philippines are not as lucky as we'd like to think: obscure towns have no access to electricity, and when night falls, the day ends. Gas lamps and candles are still the m.o., but oil is a costly resource that's soon starting to dwindle.

(See this list of the metros best hardwares)

noor-us salam
Noor-Us Salam, or Light For Peace and Development campaign in Muslim Mindanao

To solve this problem, Jim Ayala and HYBRID Social Solutions are on a mission to provide renewable light to households that are off the country's grid. Using solar energy, the little lamps come with a solar cell that can be charged during daytime in order to provide a bright light source when evening comes.

hike for light
Trekking kilometers to retrieve water, and to charge a phone for PHP 15.00

And to address the fact that every Filipino owns a cellphone? Yes, no matter how far away from a Meralco pole some people may live, a cellphone is pretty much a necessity for anyone-- even if you have to trek several kilometers from your home just to charge it. Every solar lamp comes with an outlet capable of producing enough energy to power a phone, so keeping in touch will never be a problem again.

Pola man with his solar lamp

pola residents solar lamp
A Pola family receives their solar lamp from the Ride For Light volunteers

Yes, it isn't as grand a gesture as others who build entire schools or houses would like to think, but size doesn't matter here-- empowerment does. If you've been living without light for as long as you can remember, one little bulb can make a difference in ways unimaginable. On the previous Ride for Light mission, one Bajao mother commented on how her children's grades greatly improved after receiving the solar-powered bulb, and another was overwhelmed at how she no longer had to close-up her sari-sari store before dinner time. Empowerment in renewable energy-- it's definitely the future.

hike for light 2011

Hike for Light and Ride for Light deployment areas

hike for light mt pulag
Mt. Pulag

kitanglad hike
Kitanglad mountain range

Jim Ayala and Stiftung Solarenergie- Solar Energy Foundation are calling on all volunteer climbers to scale 6 of the country's tough and most beautiful peaks in order to distribute 500 solar lamps across the nation for the Hike for Light campaign. This campaign will include members of Team Everest such as Leo Oracion, Pastour Emata, and Janet Bellarmino. The mountain tops of Pulag, Apo, Guiting Guiting, Majaas, Canlaon, and the Kitanglad mountain range will be trekked by 200 volunteers starting this November 25. If you've got the balls, then I suggest you start changing the world!

Juice's in-house endurance athlete and Fitness First Cycling Team member, Paolo Defensor, will be climbing the Dulang Dulang peak (or D2) on the Kitanglad mountain range along with 30 other volunteers. For two days, the team will trek the Philippines' second highest peak, in order to give families living in the mountains access to a reliable source of light that can benefit their lives in countless ways. For live updates, just follow on Facebook.

Columbia Trail Masters 2011

Hike for Light is also supported by the Energy Development Corporation, Primer Group and R.O.X., Century Tuna, Cebu Pacific, EYP, M2.0 Communications, and the Gordon V and Helen C Smith Foundation.

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