Little did I know that an opportunity like this will come my way. I am fortunate enough to be invited to learn what Villar Foundation is all about and see with my own two eyes its different livelihood projects for the people of Las Piñas City.
A day before the tour, I was actually having second thoughts whether to join the tour or not because of an earlier commitment scheduled later in the afternoon of the tour but boy am I glad that I gave in to the Villar Foundation invitation. I have learned a lot from our tour. Our itinerary's first stop is the Coconut Coir facility at Barangay Elias Aldana Las Piñas City.
We were welcomed by Engineer Dexter Gonzalez at the Las Piñas Coconet Weaving Livelihood Project Facility of Villar Foundation at Barangay Elias Aldana, Las Piñas City. Engineer Dexter Gonzalez is with the Villar Foundation for more than 16 years now. He told us how the livelihood project started 20 years ago. The Villar Foundation is a non-stock, non-profit organization that aims to support projects geared toward helping our less fortunate countrymen break free from the clutches of poverty.
We learned from Engineer Dexter Gonzalez that Las Piñas sidewalks and rivers used to be littered with coconut husks that clog the river, thereby resulting to floods during rainy season. This was the situation until Congresswoman Cynthia Villar met Agricultural Engineer Dr.Justino Arboleda, Dean of the Bicol State University Department Of Agriculture. The good doctor shared his technology to solve the problem.
Dr. Justino Arboleda, who helped alleviate Bicol's poverty with coco fiber ropes which you could make from the coconut husks, happily shared his technical know-how with the people of Las Piñas. He designed a decorticating machine for Las Piñas City. This machine helps Las Piñas City residents to be able to make coco nets.
This is the decorticating machine that separates the coco fiber and coco dust.
Afterwards the residents collected the coco fibers.
Yes, Coco net is a superior and more cost-effective alternative to concrete rip rapping to prevent soil erosion. It was used within Las Piñas City and near the Zapote River to avoid floods in those areas.
The coco fibers are prepared for twining by shaking and filtering the fibers.
After the coco fibers were cleaned, all you have to do is attach a little fiber, not too thick and not too thin, on the rolling bicycle hub. Then pull the fiber towards you and walk backwards while adding more fibers at the end of the twine to form a rope. Why do I know it? It is because I tried it! It is so easy! :-D!
As shown in the pictures below, as the woman rolls the wheel, her granddaughter Glaiza attaches the strands of coco fiber at the hub of the wheel and then walks backwards while adding more coco fiber strands to form the rope.
They need a maximum of six hundred (600) ropes to make one (1) Coco Net.
Twining at three (3) years old. She is said to be the youngest twiner. She is Glaiza's (5 yrs.old) younger sister, they help their grandmother to make coco fiber ropes. Twining is really easy that even a child can do it.
Glaiza resting for a while. They have a reversal of roles. Lola is now twining while Glaiza is rolling the wheel.
Dr. Justino Arboleda's erosion-controlling coco nets allow road builders to create longer-lasting ripraps at a fraction of the cost of concrete.
The coco nets help plants grow on the riprap. The roots of the plants hold the soil tightly, thus preventing landslide.
Weaving the Coco Net
The Villar Foundation provides the raw materials and machines to the Las Piñas City residents then buys the coco rope at Php 1.50 each, coco net with a size of 1x50 meters are bought at Php 1,100 each. A family can make an average of three (3) coco nets a week. Providing an income of P3,300 per week per family.
Vista Land buys coco nets from Villar Foundation for their slope protection and soil erosion requirements, they buy one (1) roll for Php 2,000 each according to Engineer Dexter Gonzalez.
The profit from Coco Net was used by the Villar Foundation on its second project which is The Handloom Blanket Weaving Enterprise which happened to be our second stop over. It is located at Bernabe Compound in Barangay Pulang Lupa, Las Piñas City.
Engineer Dexter Gonzalez waiting for us to get inside the handloom weaving center.
Whenever there is a disaster or calamity the staff of Senator Manny Villar purchase China-made mats in bulk for distribution to the affected families. When Congresswoman Cynthia Villar learned about the said purchases, she thought of making their own handloom blankets so that the Villar Foundation can help the idle women of Las Piñas City to do something productive instead of chit chatting or playing tong-its the whole day.
The Villar Foundation provided free training to forty women. In three months’ time, seventy-five percent of the trainees dropped out . After another three months of training, each of the ten women could finish as much as three blankets a day.
Producing three blankets a day means that each weaver could earn up to Php 4,680.00 (approximately US$105.00) a month. The ten women weavers became models for the others in their barangay.
News spread fast and soon women from other barangays requested to be given the opportunity to learn and earn from the craft. Hand woven blanket
This is how they do the personalized hand woven blanket. Do you think you can do it too?
I did not try it on the electric fan because I was afraid I might mess up her thread. But I think I can do it! It looks very easy.
On the other hand, I got to try the handloom weaving machine which requires hand and foot coordination. Driving is much easier, I tell you, ha ha ha!
Ms. Rhoda Lodronio, the Livelihood Project Coordinator of Villar Foundation, said that they pay Php 65.00 for each single size blanket. The average output of one worker is three ( 3 ) blankets per day. In a month each weaver can earn up to Php 4,680 net. That is already good according to Congresswoman Cynthia Villar since the weavers don't have to pay for transportation because their houses are just around the corner. Besides, they can still look after their children while they are working because the children are free to come and join their moms.
At the moment there are currently seventeen looms distributed in five barangays with a production output of 800 blankets a month or a total of 10,000 blankets a year.
Our third stop is the Solid Waste Management at Barangay Pamplona Dos, Las Piñas City. Its Brgy. Captain Roberto Villalon, a fellow Bicolano who migrated to Las Piñas City, welcomed us. He is Mr. Pure Energy in explaining with so much passion each step in recycling and Vermi culture initiated by Villar Foundation.
This poster welcomes guests as you enter the Solid Waste Management Center in Barangay Pamplona Dos Las Piñas City.
Brgy. Captain Roberto Villalon explained to us that they educate Las Piñas City residents to segregate their waste from wet (basa) and dry (hindi basa) since it is easier to use wet and dry terminology than biodegradable and non-biodegradable.
According to the kind hearted Brgy. Captain Roberto Villalon, to compliment the regular collection of the city's garbage trucks,"bio-men" conduct a door-to-door collection of the household wet garbage or kitchen waste (kaning-baboy) starting at 7 o' clock in the morning daily from Monday through Saturday. The "bio-men" are Las Piñas City residents who work part-time under the barangay payroll. Everyday the "Bio-men" have to finish the collection at twelve noon sharp to avoid the foul smell.
The Bio-men then run the kitchen waste ( kaning baboy) thru a mechanical compressing machine present in every composting facility to remove the excess liquids.
They then transfer the compressed garbage to the mixing plate with coco dust that came from the coconut coir center.
They have to thoroughly mix the kitchen waste with the Coco dust.
The kitchen waste and coco dust mix will then be crushed using the hammer mill.
It will then be put in a composting machine 24/7.
They will then air dry and filter the compost and pack it in desired pack sizes.
The compost is used in producing organic vegetables and regreening and tree-planting programs all over Las Piñas City. Barangay Pamplona Dos also sells to other barangays at Php 700.00 per sack.
For the waste in yards such us fallen branches, yard trimmings and plants, these will go to the Vermicomposting Facilities. Vermicomposting is the process where earthworms are used to process organic waste into nutrient-rich soil.
Plastics and shredded plastic bags that are not being bought by junk shops are mixed with sand and cement to make hollow blocks and pavers. They do this to attain zero waste in Las Piñas City. Isn't that great?
Steps in producing Hollow Blocks from Trash:
First, put non-biodegradable and nonrecyclable items into the Shredder or Pulverizer.
Collect the shredded pieces.
To produce 75 hollow blocks or 150 paver blocks, mix 10 kilos pulverized pellets with 40 kilos cement and 250 kilos of sand.
According to Brgy. Captain Roberto Villalon, they use the paver blocks in Barangay beautification projects. Wow! That's a lot of savings! We then went to see the River Stationwhere all these projects started. It used to be called Molino dam near San Nicolas. The one who had the dam repaired in 1885 is said to be Saint Ezekiel Moreno. The roadway on top of the dam connects Bacoor and Las Piñas City. You can transport from one place to another for only 2 pesos per person. Amazing, isn't it? Zapote to Bacoor Cavite at Prinza Gate cost two (2) pesos only. The only requirement is for you to have a BFRVHAI Prinza ID for proper identification and for the security of all the villagers.
Photo taken in front of River Station in Las Piñas City.
Someday this river banks will be a tourist attraction like Bohol.
The last itinerary in our tour is the Las Piñas Arts & Crafts. Abundance of water lilies poses a problem to the river’s ecosystem.
The local government of Las Piñas City, through the efforts of then Congresswoman Cynthia Villar, has come up with a solution that preserves the river’s ecosystem and at the same time provides a viable source of income to the constituents.
Hundreds of Las Piñas residents were offered livelihood training seminars on basket weaving using water lily stalks.
“While our main objective with this project is to prevent flooding and preserve the river’s ecosystem, we also examined ways where we can take advantage of the over-abundance of these plants in our rivers,” the lady solon said.
Water Hyacinth is turned into wonderful native products such as waste basket, fan, laundry basket, lamp shade, chairs, tables, cabinets and a lot more native products through the initiative of Villar Foundation and then Congresswoman Cynthia Villar.
Villar Foundation is creating green social enterprise in Las Piñas City.
Arts and Crafts of Las Piñas from Water Hyacinth.
Baskets weaved from Water Hyacinth.
The livelihood program is a follow-through to the highly successful Sagip-Ilog Project of then Congw. Villar, which has seen the massive rehabilitation of the Zapote River.
“This livelihood project has already produced amazing results for our constituents. This provides people a feeling of self-pride and self-worth, and more importantly security especially during these difficult times,” Villar added.
Cabinets from Water Hyacinth.
We had lunch at the ancestral house of former Congresswoman Cynthia Villar after the educational tour. Former Congresswoman Cynthia Villar joined us there and while eating, she answered our questions. Former Congresswoman Cynthia Villar doesn't want to waste time so she eats while she answers questions from the bloggers.
Cynthia Villar said that every Filipino should change their mindsets, habits and appreciate and improve cultural traits and develop a deep sense of nationalism.
Mrs. Villar is willing to help any barangay, town or city who would like to learn and emulate the livelihood projects of the Villar Foundation and the city government of Las Piñas as long as the people are willing to learn and and their local government counterparts are willing to fund the various livelihood projects and dedicated to do the job to help the environment.
I admire the Villar Foundation on its livelihood projects in Las Piñas City. Now on its 20th year, Villar Foundation is still very active on its main advocacies to alleviate poverty and help the environment. It addresses one of the main problems of the Philippines today which is poverty and garbage. Recycling Water Hyacinth, Coconut husk, plastic bags into something worthwhile, not only attains zero waste for Las Piñas City but also gives employment to idle men and women in Las Piñas City.
Villar Foundation is slowly but surely paving the way out of poverty for Las Piñas City residents.
I believe that if all the cities and towns in the entire Philippines emulate Las Piñas City it will have a huge impact in our environment. Lives will be saved from destructive floods and people will have some hope because of the employment generated by the different livelihood projects of Villar Foundation.
Kudos to the Villar Foundation and staff, Former Congresswoman Cynthia Villar and the local government of Las Piñas for doing a great job.