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Transforming lives one brick at a time in Toledo City
August 22, 2023
Brick by brick, lives were changed.
In the mountainous barangay of Cabitoonan, Toledo City sits the Ecobrick Hub managed by the Toledo United Farmers, Fishermen and Women Workers (Tuffwow). The hub, retrofitted with machinery for brick production, has been a source of livelihood and efficient waste management programs.
Through a partnership with Therma Visayas Incorporated (TVI) under Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower), Tuffwow has been making eco-friendly and high value bricks and pavers since 2022 under the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities through Kaibigans, or Project B.R.I.C.K.
With the new innovations and equipment brought by TVI and AboitizPower, along with technical partner Green Antz Builders, Inc. who provided the eco-brick model, the hub produces the bricks and pavers using plastic waste collected from the community and coal ash byproducts freely supplied by TVI’s nearby plant.
Since the production of bricks and pavers use reinforced materials and employ innovative methods, the products are nine times stronger than traditional hollow blocks available in the market.
Tuffwow Federation President Roger Antopina said he was initially confused when they were told they needed plastic waste.
“Wala ko masayod, primero ang gi-ari diri, mag-tigom og plastic. Unsaon ang plastic, kita na hinuon magtigom sa plastic.,” Roger said.
(“I was not sure because at first, we were told to gather plastic waste. What were we supposed to do with the plastic?”)
Eventually, Roger realized the program’s impact. Plastic waste can be upcycled via the reinforced bricks they were making.
To hasten its collection, TVI and AboitizPower deployed a “Basura Mo, Bigas Ko” scheme, which encouraged the community to collect and exchange at least two kilos of plastic waste — like food wrappers and shampoo sachets — per a kilo of rice. As a result, Roger said that he observed an improvement in the cleanliness of his community.
Around 1,000 members of Tuffwow are recipients of the project's gains. Roger said that when they have profits from sales, the association goes to distribute rice among the constituents.
Manny Ducor, liaison officer of Tuffwow, said that the project has given him joy and fulfillment knowing that he’s contributing to the community and the environment.
“Nalipay ko nga nakatabang sa pag-atiman sa atong kalikupan. Usa mi sa instrumento nga napugngan ang pagkabara sa atong mga kanal kay amo gyud gi-edukar ang amoang komunidad na ang plastic di man nato kalikayan, pero atong hipuson,” Manny said
(“I’m happy that I get to help in taking care of the environment. We are able to prevent the clogging of drainages because we really educate the community about properly managing their plastic waste.”)
The project has changed not only Roger and Manny, but the communities and people around them.
“Gusto ko nga ang among project di lang kay diri lang nakalimit sa Cabitoonan. Gusto ko nga mahimo ni sa uban barangay og uban kalungsuran,” Manny said.
(“I don’t want our project to just be limited here in Cabitoonan. I wish for other barangays and even cities to be able to do the same.”)
For Roger, he envisions the humble barangay of Cabitoonan to be a place where industries will rise and flourish, along with a people who understand their responsibility in caring for their environment.
This article is written by Eiver Ky Villegas for SunStar Cebu.
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