Turn the Lights Off


Growing up in the Philippines, these reminders are constant and basic. One develops conservation habit not as much thought to planet earth as for the rise of electricity and water bills.

I remember our house filled with hand-written notes scotch-taped to the walls.

”Turn off lights when not in use.”

”Close faucet tightly.”

”Do not close-open the fridge door.”

It is a crime to leave the house lights on overnight or leave the faucet dripping. Unused appliances were always turned off and unplugged.

So the first time I heard my husband tell me NOT to turn off the lights when going out the house and the first time I saw him leave the television on overnight, I was shocked to the core.

Almost two years in Abu Dhabi and I conclude that this is not a ”conserving” country.


Our bathtub has never been filled for a soak bath. Also, we reserve the water heater only for the cold mornings of the ”ber” months. The shower is replaced by timba and tabo (pail and dipper). The maximum water allowance for each bath is two pails.


I take a foam bath almost every night. When showering, water runs continuously throughout the entire bath. Heater is never turned off, even during summers when tap water is steaming hot.



Dirty dishes are first rinsed in contained water then washed with the least consumption possible. The dirty water is not drained but used to water the plants.


There is no rules for dish-washing.



Laundry is done per batch. An automatic washing machine is not practical because of the amount of water it consumes. We use our standard washing machine, water always from a dug-out/pump-well. Most of the time, we do hand-wash then machine-dry. Again, used water goes to the plants or is splashed on dusty streets.


I can do laundry anytime I want, plenty or few clothes. I do not see where the used water goes.



Ironing is done once a week or a set of clothes at one time. Iron is always unplugged.


Iron can be left plugged and working the entire day.

Utility bills (and unexplained increase) are the monthly dilemma of every household in the Philippines. I remember renting an apartment in Manila and dreading the arrival of my monthly bills. The last conversation I had with my sister-in-law was her teary-eyed and worrying on how to pay for our accumulated unpaid bills. Our electricity supply was scheduled to be disconnected.

It’s ironic how the Philippines, an archipelago surrounded by vast bodies of water, have very low water supply compared to Abu Dhabi, the desert.

Convenient as it may be, I challenge myself to go back to my ancient ways of turning lights off and saving water. Someday, I would want my children to grow up developing the value of conservation as I did. Learning to turn the lights off taught me preservation and frugality which led to ingenuity that helped enhanced my creativity.

Whenever you switch the lights off, you are learning more than you can see.


8 thoughts on “Turn the Lights Off

    1. it ends in the airport. And sometimes the only people who can see it are the transit people. Haha 😦 But if it’s a new campaign, I think it would take years before people from here would actually practice it. Overflowing supply e. they won’t see the point 😦


  1. Even if cost isn’t a problem, clean water and energy are scarce resources (water more than oil, natch). Conserving them is doing your part in helping future generations. So go, go, go Violet!
    There should be lectures about peak oil in elem schools in those oil producing areas.


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