The first-ever "Asian Game Changer Award" was given to Illac Diaz, a former model-turned-social entrepreneur, for his valuable contribution to Asia's future.
The Asia Society of New York, a nonprofit educational institution established in the 1950s by John Rockefeller to advance understanding and fortify ties between Asia and the United States, presented the inaugural prize.
The United Nations Dining Room and Terrace hosted a Game Changer Awards Dinner on October 16 to recognize Diaz and the other 12 members of the 2014 Class of Asia Game Changers. The other recipients come from Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Japan, and India.
Diaz's "A Liter of Light initiative" proposed the use of plastic bottles as "Solar Bottle Bulbs," which have illuminated more than 140,000 powerless houses in the Philippines.
He uses recycled plastic bottles that would otherwise wind up in landfills in his "Solar Bottle Bulb." A liter of water and a few teaspoons of chlorine are added to the plastic bottle before it is mounted to the roof.
The homemade solar bottle bulb refracts and spreads sunlight, illuminating the room below, when it is fitted snuggly into a hole that was specifically designed in the roof.
Illac Diaz, whose name is an Aztec phrase that means "God of Light", said,
It means a lot na parang tinitingnan tayo at na-o-honor yung mga proyekto namin nakakatulong hindi lang sa Pilipinas pero sa buong mundo. To be put with all these people that are changing the world, in commerce, in business, in humanitarian works malaking bagay 'to para sa Pilipinas at sa organisasyon namin.
(It means a lot to us that people are taking notice of us and honoring our programs, which benefit people not just in the Philippines but all across the world. For the Philippines and our organization, it's a major deal to be included with all of these people who are making a difference in the world through business, humanitarian work, and trade.)
Diaz subsequently developed his Solar Bottle Bulb so that it can be used at night when there is no sunshine.
The modern solar bottle bulb has a basic circuitry or battery that saves the solar energy that has been converted and powers an LED light that comes on automatically at night. Ten hours' worth of energy could be stored.
Liter of Illumination is a night-time solution; charging the battery during the day and providing light for the night are two steps apart, according to Illac.
In various regions of the world, the Solar bottle bulb concept is currently being imitated. By the year 2015, Illac said he aspires to provide lighting for at least 1 million houses worldwide.