Being an advocate of the use of ecobags/reusable bags instead of plastic bags, it was such an honor to visit a foundation that values nature as much as I do.
The Villar Foundation is a non-stock, non-profit organization, it aims to support projects geared toward helping our less fortunate countrymen break free from the clutches of poverty.
Villar Foundation started in 2001 and one of their pioneer project was Sagip Ilog program. This is a program that aims to rehabilitate Las Piñas-Zapote River. According to Engr Dexter Gonzales, it was during the rehabilitation program that they noticed, that some of the garbage that was seen floating in the river was coconut husk.
Coconut husk disposal is a problem but Congw Cynthia Villar started a project that not only solves the coconut husk disposal problem but as well as improve the lives of the people, the Coconet Weaving Livelihood project
Coconet Weaving Livelihood project is now on its 7th year. The project produces coconut net from coconut husk with the use of decorticating machine. It is a machine developed by Dr. Arboleda, a dean from Bicol University. The machine separates the fibers from the husk and what is left are dust. The machine, as Engr Gonzales told us, is at 585 thousand PhP. It can decorticate 10,000 coconut husk a day.
Coconut Vendors willingly bring their coconut husk waste to the Coconet weaving factory located at Brgy E. Aldana (the factory that we visit). The husk, then will be put at the machine for decorticating (which produces two by products: fibers and dust). After the fibers are separated, a family member will dust it. After dusting, a pair will twine it to make coconut rope. After that another pair will weave it to make a coconet. Coconet making is a family matter as we were told. Each family will work hand in hand to make a coconet. According to Atty Reggie, each week, a family can produce 3 rolls of net on the average (a roll is 1 meter by 50 meters net). The foundation will buy the nets produced for the week, for 1000 PhP per roll of net and sells it for 2000 PhP. The profit that the foundation make from coconet weaving was used to pay for the blankets from the Las Piñas Handloom Weaving Center (which we also visited).
You may ask where or what is the use of the coconet? It is being used as slope protection. It was used to prevent soil erosion one of the problems faced during the rehabilitation of the river. The coconet is placed at 45 degree angle on the lands around the river. Plants (specially bamboo) where planted in between the nets. The coconet together with the plant’s root system holds the soil and absorbs water too.
Las Piñas Handloom Weaving Center is located at Bernabe Compound. It is a livelihood project that answers the call of relief operations. Villar Foundation, instead of buying blankets, decided to create their own blanket. It employs 24 workers and as mentioned, profits from the Coconet Weaving project was used to pay for the workers.
The Eco Center at Barangay Pamplona Dos is another Villar Foundation that we visited. Brgy Captain Roberto Villalon shared with us how segregation and composting made a difference in their waste management.
Their waste was classified as wet and dry. Wet are mostly composed of biodegrable waste and kitchen waste. This waste they turn into an organic fertilizer through organic composition. The food and kitchen waste collected (collection done every morning) together with the dust from the coconet weaving factory and trichodema were placed in a composting machine for one week. After a week, the food waste becomes an organic fertilizer:
And since plastics is not biodegrable, Villar Foundation think of something to make use of the plastic, specially plastic bags and sachet. This was used to make hollow blocks where in 10kg of plastic was mixed with 1 sack of cement and 20 kg of sand.
Other projects in the ecocenter are:
- Biogas Project
- Backyard Aquaculture
- Production of Vermicompost
After the trip, we went to Villar’s residence and had a sumptuous lunch with Congresswoman Cynthia Villar.
Congw Cynthia Villar, told us stories about Villar Foundation, how it started as well as their current projects. I am glad to hear that she also helps my city with its water hyacinth problem. I remember her saying:
How can you develop nationalism if you don’t even know what you have.
It was the old Las Piñas we were talking about and the importance of having an old part of the city preserved.
Though our time with her was limited, I believe all of us were inspired by her dedication and hard work in changing the lives of others through Villar Foundation.