In November 2013, super-typhoon Haiyan AKA Yolanda, swept through the Philippines decimating many of its cities and leaving thousands of residents homeless. As is usually the case following natural disasters, initially, there was tremendous outpouring of concern and aid from the international community. However as the months have passed, world focus has moved on to other issues and the donations, trickled down to almost nothing.
Meanwhile, Philippines is still struggling to recover from the disaster. Many villages and towns remain without power and thousands of residents are still living in shelters and tents. This means that moving around at night is difficult and dangerous, especially the for women and children.
Now thanks to Filipino-American architect Lira Luis, there may be some relief in not just bringing light to the areas, but also, refocusing the world's attention to the plight of the country's residents. Entitled the 'Leap Frog Project', it involves installing giant illuminated ball-like structures throughout villages affected by the typhoon.
Built from debris found on the sites, each of the 9-feet diameter installations that were inspired by the Japanese Marino ball, a rare algae that grow into large green spheres, will be lit up naturally. Some will be filled with bioluminescent plankton. Found abundantly in the waters surrounding the country, the microorganisms glow when disturbed. Others will be painted with photo luminescent paint that requires just 10 minutes of solar irradiation even on cloudy days, to keep glowing for 8 hours at a stretch. Made from natural light-storing mineral crystals, the non-toxic paint can be recharged almost indefinitely.
The architect who has so far been able to raise funds for ten of these naturally-lit balls plans to begin the Leap Frog Project in one of the most severely impacted cities - Tacloban. Once ranked among the top ten most competitive cities of Philippines, the coastal capital of the Leyte Province was leveled by the surging typhoon waters and has had a hard time recovering.
By illuminating the transitional structures using natural sources, Luis hopes to encourage the Filipino authorities to rebuild sustainable cities that are strong enough to withstand any future natural disasters that come their way. And in case you are wondering, she plans to return the bioluminescent plankton back to its natural environment, when the project comes to an end.