The sun, a simple bottle bring light to San Pedro

Sunday, 27 February 2011

MANILA, Philippines – For households out there living in the dark without electricity, there’s hope for a brighter tomorrow literally with a nationwide lighting mission called the Solar Bottle Bulb project.

Spearheaded by social entrepreneur Illac Diaz, the Solar Bottle Bulb, designed and developed by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), aims to provide an economically and ecologically sustainable light source for households in the Philippines.

A plastic bottle filled with a solution comprising of water and readily available chemicals, the inexpensive Solar Bottle Bulb harnesses the power of the sun to light the rooms of houses, schools or warehouses.

It is a device that is based on and grew out of the principle of Appropriate Technologies – a concept that provides simple and easily replicable technologies that address basic needs in developing communities.

With its promise for long-term sustainability, these solar bottles are now being used to light poor communities in Brazil and Mexico.

In the Philippines, My Shelter Foundation has initially introduced this technology to 300 households in San Pedro, a highly-urbanized first class urban municipality in the province of Laguna.

Illac Diaz.
The foundation is also exploring partnerships with both private and public entities to implement this project nationwide.

“Light is an important part of our daily life, and access to light is a right of everyone here in the country. Through this project, we aim to provide the whole country with sustainable light energy and bridge the gap between social classes,” says Diaz, founder of My Shelter Foundation, a socio-civic organization that aims to form partnerships with communities and groups locally and globally to create affordable housing.

The idea of establishing the Solar Bottle Bulb project came in the midst of reports that in 2009, three million households outside Metro Manila were still powerless, based on the records of the National Electrification Administration.

Aside from these households, there are also those families in and out of the metropolis who desperately try to source electricity through illegal or unsafe means – often with disastrous results.

According to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), fire accidents often involve faulty electrical connections.

In 2009 alone, 2,520 electric-related fires were reported nationwide. And because the BFP does not conduct fire hazard inspections in informal settlements, these communities are high-risk fire hazards, especially with illegal electrical connections rampant in these areas.

Diaz said the realization of the fire hazards confronted by these communities as well as the pressing need of families to have access to light prompted them to launch the Solar Bottle Bulb project.

“With the Solar Bottle Bulb project, a brighter Philippines is going to become a reality,” says Diaz, who has launched other noteworthy ventures such as the Seafarer’s Dormitory at Pier One, the acclaimed Bottle School Project, and the global architectural design contest Design Against the Elements.