manilarat signing off.

Wide road fronting the Sta. Rosa Hospital
Been dreaming of wide open spaces and clean fresh air everyday for a good while, and now I get to smile in my heart and say it for real: it’s all happening.


Am moving on to literally “greener pastures” in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and will no longer be a true blue manilarat.

Thank you for the visits through the years and most especially for the kind words. Will maintain this site as a tourism jump off point to keep fighting the good fight to #helpDOT, but do hope you also join me on my journey towards sustainable living in

I dream of a simple home, a home that keeps me home.
I dream of a home that’s pretty.
I dream of a home that makes me happy.
I dream of a home that would make retreats and vacations unneeded, because the clarity and deep joy that I find in them, I find at home, everyday.
I dream of a home that has both silence and laughter.
I dream of a home that has love.

My Nuvali Home
: my first big adult commitment.

It’s not just a house; it’s a big YES to a lifestyle shift– to more quiet everydays, filled with meaning, in resonance with the quiet shift to a healthier, more conscious lifestyle that values and always upholds what truly matters: family, people, ordinary lives, joy in the everyday, helping others, helping who needs help now. It’s one that requires a lot of listening, and a lot of path-clearing… one that is awakened, awakening and awakens.

This is the sustainable life, this is what My Nuvali Home is about.


green architecture guide for my first house!

Was so happy to get finally get my copy yesterday!

First heard about this book from my friend Pompet, who says it’s his bible in building sustainable homes in Palawan.

The author, Johan van Lengen, founded the Bio-architecture and Intuitive Technology (TIBA) School in the Mata Atlantica (coastal jungle) of Brazil. The book is easy to follow, very practical but comprehensive, with sustainable design guides and zoning plans for communities (not just individual houses).

The reference page at the back has this Old Chinese saying:

When a king dies, his people say:  “He did this; he did that…”

But when a great king dies, they say: “We did everything ourselves.”

Wow.   Hope to use its ideas eventually as I bring to life my dream of an eco village, but also now, on a smaller scale, as I get started on building my first home! So exciting.

Other pegs for a green home from

Special thanks to my good friend, Marns, for the book!


I think I really am moving to Sta. Rosa…

My plans of relocating to Palawan and getting involved in sustainable tourism have taken a backseat (for now), and am realizing that the work that I have and want to do is still in the mainstream.  If it is to push for a real sustainable lifestyle, I must first live it in order to be able to talk about it.  And so I’ve been exploring the farming alternative for when my lease expires in February, ideally somewhere near Manila, with Tagaytay as the best bet…

A few weeks ago, my brother gave me a grand idea: instead of moving to Tagaytay to be a farmer, why not just get a small house in Nuvali, and live the life I want, in a way that’s personally sustainable for me:  I can bike all I want everyday, have a small outdoor area for my art and permaculture, and make a living in real estate, selling the same lifestyle I’m building for myself– the sustainable Nuvali lifestyle with lots of wide open spaces and green green green everywhere.  Genius!!!

When Nuvali was launched in 2007 as Ayala’s big city project in Sta. Rosa, I was so in love with it.   It was the first time I heard of any concrete plans to build a sustainable community in scale, and I was so happy that such a vision was being supported and implemented by someone that meant business, with real funds and real energy from people who believed in it.  I was even happier that people my age–my peers–were excitedly buying in!

I’ve been living in a 50-sqm loft for almost a year now, and if only this had an outdoor space, I’d have no complaints, so a small house surrounded by a garden will be just perfect for me.

The main hesitation was the isolation from everyone else, but Sta.  Rosa is just a few minutes away from Alabang, and I’ll still have access to city conveniences (there’s National Bookstore in Nuvali, haha, priorities!).

Mom and Dad were also more supportive of this plan than the farming option, especially if they’ll just be in Tagaytay, and they went with me last week to check out the Avida site itself, where there are house and lot options for sale:

It was raining so we just drove around to get a feel of the community…

The houses are identical (there are three models to choose from), and they have the modern-minimalist feel of sleek clean lines, but I like that they used earthy tones to lend a sense of warmth to the place.  A purely white house makes for a too sanitary life think–yey to color in our everydays!

If I choose to buy now, I’ll be able to move in by next summer, and I’ll be living in my own house in a community that I feel safe in, but is still far from noise, pollution and traffic!   Sounds heavenly wahhhhhh!

This is one of the standard two-bedroom houses…

I’m interested in the most basic of them all, like the one below.. just 53 sqm floor area, and about 120sqm lot area…

I can build a fence around it, have a small lookout garden/patio and a carport… but most important of all, it’ll be my own house!  That’s one more thing off my 30-before-30 list, hehe!

Of course I would love love love to have my dear friends as my neighbors… If any of you are also considering a shift to a healthier lifestyle, this is it!! Xavier will start its first schoolyear 2012 for co-ed, right in front of Avida, so no need to worry for your kids or future kids’ schooling. There’s already St. Scholastica’s,  La Salle and Ateneo Graduate School in Sta. Rosa, plus plans for UST and Everest Academy.  There’s also a Waldorf school inside Georgia Club next door to Nuvali.  For work, there are a number of IT companies and call centers already operational, plus the almost 20 industrial parks in Canlubang.  There’s also Alabang for more options.  Teehee… tara!

Here’s something more about Nuvali, from my old post in April 2008, “Nuvali: where I want my friends to buy“:

I pass by the main Nuvali entrance along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road on the way to Tagaytay almost twice a week, and I always find myself smiling, almost like a mother in patient admiration of a child as he comes of age, thinking that in a few years, there will be a thriving, empowered community living on that exact spot.I’ve been in love with Nuvali since I first heard about it in September 2007, and I’ve already decided that it will be my future home and the home of my kids and their kids.

Why Nuvali?

1. Offhand, it’s really because I believe in the project.
It’s not just another piece of land converted into livable space for houses. Much like a visionary company with inspiring people behind it, Nuvali is a project with soul, and it shows. There is a real commitment to responsible living, which is not something you hear property developers in the Philippines rally everyday.

2. It is a responsible venture, with long-term quality life at its core.

As more and more people in the world clamor for greener lifestyles, it makes me proud and excited that in our own country, someone (or some group, i.e. Ayala) is doing his fair share in not just conducting business responsibly, but in providing ways–concretely and with the long-term in mind–for people to also live their lives responsibly. This means that we, as individual citizens, can also directly participate in this green revolution by living the green lifestyle ourselves, and living it not just in bits and pieces, but wholly and collectively!

3. It offers a shot at holistic, responsible living to those willing to work for it.
Living in Nuvali is not cheap, but it’s not incredulously expensive either. We were very happy to service one OFW client, and his wife and three kids based in Laguna, as they excitedly made their lot purchase. Bank financing is readily available, with options to pay in 10 years or more.

More recent updates:  A wakeboarding complex like the one in CamSur will be put up within Nuvali itself, hopefully operational by December 2010.  That’s in two months!!! Woohoo! Imagine going out for a short bike ride, and having a wide lake (and hot muscled boys perhaps) waiting for your viewing pleasure… !   Plans are also in place for biking trails, a bird sanctuary, tree nurseries, and a number of open fields (called “The Fields” :P ) for soccer, frisbee, etc.  So exciting!!

Taraaaaa!  Neighbors anyone?? :)


Bahay Kalipay – a house of healing

bahay kalipay

bahay kalipay

Welcome to Bahay Kalipay, a house of healing in Palawan, where I found myself on a quiet inner journey for six days barely a month ago.

bahay kalipay

There’s something about going barefoot that invites opening up, a baring of sorts..
bahay kalipay

…and this daily habit of having to take off one’s shoes and walk with naked feet on the floor is simple but it does what it is meant to do… which is to disarm, interrupt, like a cymbal clanging in a church, or maybe more like a flute in a library. It is strange but not unpleasant, maybe even friendly…

bahay kalipay

Living in a communal setting also disarms– especially for someone who values private space and the comforts of familiar noise or absolute silence.

bahay kalipay

I went to Palawan to visit my old friend, Pompet, and still no day passes that I don’t go back to those six days and wonder what really happened there.

When you go to a place expecting to live simply and commune with nature, you prepare yourself by leaving behind your city habits…  As someone who has no attachment to TV, newspapers, radio and magazines, I didn’t expect to have to adjust much.

I went with a passive mindset–I was there to observe, I was just going to watch.

bahay kalipay

The days went by quietly, and to a certain extent, uneventful…

There was no novelty to shock or animate something dormant… The Inner Dance meditation was new, but it was very pleasant, and familiar…

Even the raw food aspect of the retreat–nothing but fruits and uncooked vegetables for 6 days–was easy to adapt to, it was a joy for me to eat so healthily.

I felt I had no need for healing, and let myself get comfortable believing that…

Maybe with no expectations, the true healing I needed happened.. quietly, without drama, without external hints.

bahay kalipay

bahay kalipay

Something I’ve been  asking for this whole year–clarity–came to me so quietly soon after my trip, and I now realize that the search for clarity has always been the search for honesty.   To have clarity is to have the path cleared, so that one can see himself wholly and truly, and hear his own voice, follow his own rhythm.

What comes next is the courage to uphold that truth,  to pursue it, not without fear, for fear is part and parcel of life, but to press on in spite of those fears.

I’ve always wanted to be brave, and here it is–my most trying test:  Do I have the courage to be who I truly am, and also to let go of who I am not?

* * *

Pompet is Pi, healer and in more ways than one, father of Bahay Kalipay.

bahay kalipay

Bahay Kalipay, as “a self-sustainable community of healers, artists, gardeners, teachers, and earth-conscious people from around the world, some permanent, some in transit,” is a retreat space that offers Healing, Raw Food, Detox, Yoga in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. It is also the main retreat center of an ancient Filipino Spiritual Healing Practice which is today called Inner Dance.

Bahay Kalipay, Lot 38E, Hagedorn Road Extension, San Pedro, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines.
* Pi Villaraza: +63 9994512765
* Daniw Arazola: +63 09081391139

Dreams are underway to build a community of healing further north, this time on the mountains of Palawan, which makes my heart leap quietly, especially when I liken it to Tolkien’s Rivendell, The House of Healing which was home to Elrond, Lord of the Elves:
bahay kalipay

bahay kalipay

Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, “a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.” Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.

bahay kalipay

Imagine living in a place of abundant healing energy such as this:

“But it feels impossible, somehow, to feel gloomy or depressed in this place. I feel I could sing, If I knew the right song for the occasion,” said Pippin.

“I feel like singing myself,” laughed Frodo. “Though at the moment I feel more like eating and drinking!”

bahay kalipay

Bacungan, Palawan.

What do you see?


View more photos of Bahay Kalipay on flickr.

(Images of Rivendell and Lord of the Rings quotes are fromThe Rivendell Image Gallery)


hooray for wooden toys!

wooden toys

Don’t you think it’s so hard to find a meaningful toy to give kids these days?

It’s always been a problem for me–I don’t buy into plastic toys and the PS2 generation–and come kiddie birthdays or baptisms, I always get torn between giving something I’d rather not give or just giving nothing.

Was so glad, then, to have met Tes Sobeng, a Waldorf mom who makes wooden toys for children (and children-at-heart!). She had access to wood craftsmen in Paete, Laguna and took it upon herself to make toys that resonated with love and encouraged imagination.

waldorf toys
Do you notice the mini palayok (clay pot) on the shelf? I have so many fond memories playing with clay pots as a child!

Tes has an assortment of toys, but mostly for kids of school age. Most adhere to the Waldorf ideals of age-appropriateness and imaginative play.
waldorf toys

Here’s one toy I took home for myself, inspired by a tansan (bottlecap) spinning wheel usually played in the provinces:
wooden toys

Hayyyy, what joy in being a child!

* * *
You can look at Tes’s toy catalog on her website, toys and stuff, or contact her through
0908-492-3953 / 912-4056 or


what it really means to go green

first world (28)

Was so happy to read The Burden of Stuff: Why Less Could Make You Happier from the Huffington Post.

This is exactly what I’m (quietly) advocating–a purging of our consumerist lifestyles, which, in essence, is what it means to go green!  Not just changing our kitchen, bathroom, or library, but more so our own mindset.  To be able to go green for the long haul (i.e. be consistent in it enough for it to become a part of who we are), step one is to live simply.   It is a gentle, quiet call for basic living, which does not necessarily mean a frugal lifestyle, but living with only what’s enough.  It’s catching ourselves whenever we say “I want…” and really asking the whys behind that want…

Going-green has gotten on the “uso” bandwagon for a while now, which is good for the awareness it creates, but not for its message.  The internet is literally swamped with go-green blogs now, our local bookstores have a new section just for the green lifestyle, and “green” products are just everywhere, with more popping up everyday and adding to the clutter!!

Author Kirsten Dirksen shares:

Our stuff has weight (something George Clooney’s character understood in Up In the Air with his How Heavy Is Your Backpack speech), whether because it simply blocks our view of the more important things in our lives, or because like some parasite, it begins to suck up our time and attention. Almost everything we have in our lives affects us in some way: the extra clothes in our closets just get in the way of what we really want to wear; the extra furniture takes up space; it’s extra stuff to dust, to rearrange, to store, to lose things in.

She did a video interview of Brad and Andy, a couple from Texas who literally uprooted themselves from the city and chose a leaner, cleaner lifestyle with just the bare essentials: a good bed, good table, good sofa, and some modern comforts like a good kitchen and the internet:

The good news is going-green is by no means an “absolute no” to material things! Brad adds:

I don’t want to own nice things, but I want to use nice things. For example I like the idea of going and renting, although Anda makes fun of me on this, a Porsche and driving up US Highway 1 from San Francisco to Portland. I think that would be great, but I don’t want to own a Porsche.

And for this “luxury”, Kirsten says there are new amazing communities that actually have communal ownership of  “shareable” things like cars, bikes or tools.  She also shares a link to Inconspicuous Consumption, which lists references on shared libraries of useful things.  Have you heard of movements like this in the Philippines?

In any case, this is it, friends–the lamppost along the tunnel!  To go green is to travel light and purge the excesses from our lives.  It’s to sign up for “voluntary simplicity“, which is hard and frustrating, but as with all purges, promising and refreshing.  :)


it’s almost been a year since Ondoy…


My thoughts on October  1, 2009:

Typhoon Ondoy brought with it so much loss, fear, anger.  Galit lahat, finger-pointing has begun, and will only get worse.  My brother told me he doesn’t want to watch the news anymore, he just gets depressed.

Ordinary citizens are rallying behind something though, something that’s mobilizing them and getting them on the streets.  Everywhere people are helping–rescuing, donating, packing, cleaning, coordinating, passing on critical information.  In one weekend, we have begun talking again, and talking about things that matter–the people around us, our people, us.

First saw this during Cory’s wake–Pinoys came out to honor a great woman, a hero to the Filipino nation.  Strangers rubbing elbows in the rain, waiting in line for long hours to pay tribute and say goodbye.  It seemed that Filipino apathy was finally taking a turn for the better, but I think real motives of people were still hazy then.  It wasn’t clear why we really took to the streets.  Usiseros aside, how many of those who came with good intentions knew what those intentions were, really? Na kinilatis, pinag-isipan, binuo? Why mourn Cory? Who was she to them? What about her and her life did they connect with, that was relevant to them? Some friends who went said they wanted to be part of history… what does that mean?

I’d like to think we went to the streets to mourn Cory because despite our pronunciations that our country is hopeless, that Filipinos don’t care anymore, the truth is we do care.  We want to care. We were out there looking for hope, and Cory gave us that.

In the aftermath of Ondoy, what happened?

They say that when you take a step towards God, he comes running to you.  Maybe the Cory magic was our first step, collectively as a people, towards hope (and love). And here it is now in our midst, in abundance. Hope came running to us.

Let’s dwell on hope.  The Philippines will need more than material healing from this tragedy, and there will be a time for demanding accountability, but let it be anchored on hope.

We’ve already started talking to each other again as Filipinos.  We’re looking each other in the eye, regardless of family, school, occupation, religion, socio-economic class.  Let’s keep talking to each other.   I hope this blog can help safeguard and continue this dialogue for healing–one that is fueled by hope and at the same time channels it.

– Excerpt from Ondoy Heroes

They do say all things pass–the best and the worst–and the storm that was Ondoy has passed. I pray that its lessons (and demands) have not been lost on us though….and that the dialogue for healing among ourselves lives on…Or better yet, that it has been translated into living hope, that is fueled by consistent action.

What have you done since September 26, 2009, or what have you done differently since then?

For me, the hoping (and seeking) continues in manilarat, where I still insist on finding beauty in the city (and country!) that we love to hate, and in finding the people who can help make it all happen…go go go tourism development!  The green brigade lives on too, which is above all, a shift inside…

Various friends have helped campaign for their candidates for the recent elections; some actually ran (and won, yay!) for government.  Others keep on fighting the good fight in NGO’s like Gawad Kalinga, and still others wave the Philippine banner in their own smaller circles of friends and families…

Wherever we are, we carry our best intentions for this country with us, so whatever it is you’re doing, whether you’re primed for the bida role or part of the supporting cast, fight on! You are not alone.


Para sa bayan!

We have a new president!


a market-to-plate cooking day using organic food!

My friend Jhoey Hernandez of is holding a unique culinary tour in Alabang on Saturday, May 22, for sustainable cooking! Hope you and your green-minded friends can support her project:

Are you a cooking mama, a foodie, an urban gardener wannabe or simply love learning new things? Dust off your basket and join us as Pinoy Organics launch its Market-to-Plate Tours in the South!

Pinoy Organics in partnership with Feed 5000


Market-to-Plate Tour Launch

MAY 22, 2010, SATURDAY

8AM – 2PM

  • Know your local producers in nearby weekend markets
    • Help us purchase our ingredients for our cooking demo
    • Meet the only certified organic local produce seller in the South
    • Meet a 70 year old woman who sells local produce from Batangas on weekends only
    • Know where to buy organic brown rice at market price in the South
    • Enjoy a local drink with more electrolytes than commercial sports drink
    • Visit Mom-Turn-Farmer who sells her sustainable foods from Cavite
    • and more!

  • Learn “How To Grow Your Own Herbs”
    • Kitchen Herbs 101
    • Growing Herbs
    • Propagation
    • And more practical tips about herbs!
  • Watch and learn from Chef Len Santos of Feed 5000 as she shows us how to use herbs via Cooking Demo, “Cooking with Herbs”. Bonus treat: we get to taste everything she’ll cook!
  1. Watermelon, Mint and Kesong Puti Salad
  2. Penne Vongole (with Flat Parsley and Dill)
  3. Grilled Chicken and Mushroom Bruschetta
  4. Pineapple Basil Shake
  5. Lavender Flan
FEE: P 1,000/person only (inclusive of all materials and light lunch)


8:00 – 10:00   Market Tour
10:00 – 1:00   “Cooking with Herbs”, a cooking demo cum lunch by Chef Len of Feed 5000
1:00 – 2:00   “How to Grow Your Own Herbs”, an urban gardening workshop
The cooking demo and gardening workshop will be held at Feed 5000 Studio, 186 Luzon Drive, Ayala Alabang Village
To book your reservations, call +632 347 3975, text +63922 895 3975

or email us at


manilarat turns green

I started a green blog last year as a response to the stirrings I began to feel inside– a need to declutter, to simplify, to stay still and let go of excesses, and to be practical about it. I wrote:

Early September 2009, I sat through a movie that changed my life: Home, a quiet documentary on the state of the Earth by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Couldn’t get Glenn Close’s voice out of my head: faster and faster we humans moved from the reign of agriculture to the industrial age. Faster and faster our cities grew, with mega-buildings hailing the triumph of human intelligence and resourcefulness. Faster and faster we used up the pockets of sunlight deep inside the earth, and faster and faster our earth lost its resources–it is now dying.

My brother told me the Earth won’t really die– it will continue in whatever form it takes to survive. Whether we humans survive this new form or transition is another matter.

My big resounding story now, especially given the parallel shift inside to live, think, and act more simply, is to move towards simplifying my everyday environment. In other words, I wanna green! I wanna greenify!

That blog is now the new green section of manilarat, a catch basin for whatever information I find on going green or living greener everydays.  Also hope to share it with whoever is on the same journey.   Info is filtered for the Filipino,  relevant most to those living in Metro Manila.

Would be glad for any tips or insights from you–please don’t be shy to send me an email or use and abuse the comment forms on every post :)

Let’s do our part and create new habits that will manifest our greener selves!


green and politics– what’s the latest?

I’ve made no secret about my support for Nicanor Perlas, who is neither my relative, family friend, nor ninong.

Glad to see others are recognizing the same:

Perlas best bet to solve water woes, survey shows (Inquirer, 23 March 2010) — Environmental groups EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace show the results of their “Green Electoral Initiative” (GEI) survey, which ranks the presidential candidates’ green value based on their platforms on clean water.  Highest mark of  8.7 points (out of 10) goes to Nick Perlas.  Sen. Jamby Madrigal is second with 7.8 points, followed by Gordon with 7.2 points.

P30,000 water system solution–Perlas (Inquirer Visayas, 16 March 2010) — Nick Perlas gives a solution to water problem for farms that costs P30,000, can be set up in three days, and can irrigate three to five hectares of farms.

Other news on politics and the green agenda:

Madrigal is ‘greenest’ presidential bet (Inquirer, 22 March 2010)  — another question-based ranking of the presidential candidates, conducted by Agham-Youth, Earth Island Institute, Takder, Katribu, Lakbay-Cagayan Valley, and Computer Professionals Union.  Basis for the rankings: green beans cadre or how pro-people and pro-environment their answers are to questions such as the re-commissioning of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, commercial logging, Mining Act of 1995, coal power plant, Visiting Forces Agreement, Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, cleanup of toxic wastes, and commercialization of genetically modified organisms.


Long before I knew of his decision to run for president, I’ve heard stellar things about Nick from my friend Jason Gonzales, who knows Nicky personally and who is also running for a government position in Iloilo City.  Nicky, says Jason, is a renaissance man (who never sleeps because of everything he’s busy with!), brilliant at everything he does, which include farming, microfinance, meeting with global leaders and thinktanks, etc.. His website is  Also visit Nick’s facebook page.  Medyo mabigat, and you need to set aside time for the long texts, but well-worth the read. I’m sure you’ll find his writings engaging, or inspiring at the very least. He won an Alternative Nobel in 2003.

Last June, I met him for the first time during the Pag-asa workshop on creativity and love of country, and I decided right then and there that wow, I want him as my president, and not just that–I want to help campaign for him.  I’ve always wanted to do something good for the Philippines, but Nicky and this window we’ve been given to help him have made me want to do not just good but GREAT things! He’s such a capable man– finally we have someone with real qualifications running for office!


Everyone on Nick’s team is a volunteer! Just volunteer!  Or spread the word about this brilliant and growing pulse among Pinoys called New Politics.

Nick is also raising funds, here’s a message from Gil Alonzo, a volunteer fundraiser:

Dear All,

We are happy to inform you that we have been steadily gathering funds to match the P500T Challenge Donation that would, in total, raise P1M in campaign funds.

As a result of all our efforts, we now have P128,039.10 Just today, we added P20T by selling a rundown car to the junk shop. If you have any old car beyond repair, or any other major recyclable/saleable items that you would like to donate, please do so. Nothing is so small that we wouldn’t accept. Remember 3-year old Lareessa, who was our first donor of a 1-peso donation!

New Politics is about new approaches to getting the best candidate into power. Although we de-emphasize money in our campaign to have Nick Perlas elected, we also need minimal resources for operations, rentals, food, transportation, communication and production of campaign materials.

If we raise the P500T, we will will be able to get the other P500T challenge donation. This might be so small compared to the campaign funds of other presidential candidates, but this will go a long way for us, as this will add more mobile ads, more tarps, more flyers in recycled paper using soya ink, and another month of electric jeepney rental.

We can make this happen. Donate now!

With love and gratitude,

Nick Perlas Volunteer Fundraiser
Meet the Challenge Within: The 500T Challenge Fund


bamboo jeepneys in leyte

NOTE: This site got hacked last month and boo that my back-up didn’t include the latest 4 posts (lesson learned: back-up everyday!).  I’m resurrecting this third of four posts (original publish date: January 2010) from loose emails and saved drafts.

Look at these ingenious jeepneys spotted in Leyte!

Got these pics in the email last January 2010 from Dorothy Llariza, who said they were passed along by an acquaintance from India.  At first glance, friends and I were quick to dismiss these jeepneys as “surface green”–they use bamboo and other indigenous materials, but still have the same constitution as their CO2-guzzling cousin…. or so we thought.

An online search just now led me to the site of TOTI Eco,  which as it turns out is another ingenious project by a local government official (and also the source of the pics doing the email circuit)!

Feeling the need for a low-cost, fuel-efficient, safe, and environmentally-friendly alternative mode of transportation (versus the accident-prone habal-habal, a motorbike usually overloaded with passengers),  Tabontabon mayor Dr. Rustico Balderian created the Tabontabon Organic Transport Industry (TOTI) Eco cars, which proudly claim to be a revolution in transportation:

Important Points to Keep in Mind About a Bamboo Car vs. Vehicles of Steel
-Our bamboo cars run 100% on coco-biodiesel.
-90% made of bamboo.
-Bamboo is indigenous & renewable.
-Bamboo is stronger in tensile strength than steel.
-It takes 5 tons of ore to make 1 ton of steel plate.
-Consider the heat needed to process 5 tons of ore.
-Made by Tabontabon’s Out-of-School Youth

ECO1 can seat 20 people including the driver. It can run on ONE gallon of Biodiesel fuel for 8 hours. It can climb more than 20% grade. It is covered in banig the Filipino woven mat.

ECO2 is made of bamboo, seats 8 passengers, and has a stereo with sound system. It also runs on one gallon of biodiesel fuel for 8 hours.

Future Models
Other models in production include another vehicle made of bamboo…including the chassis.

Estimated cost of Eco1 amounts to P200,000.   Not sure how this compares to the steel Sarao…

Other projects by Mayor Balderian include the production of shredders, boilers and bio-reactors for solid waste management (package cost is at P650,000) and livelihood projects that reuse plastic waste into slippers, bags and bricks.

More pictures can be seen on the TOTI Eco website.

Related reading:

Biodiesel Bamboo Cabs: Philippines Town Turns Taxis Green (March 19, 2010)
Small Leyte town assembles bamboo car (Inquirer, Sept. 2009)
The Bamboo Jeep from Bangued, Abra (featured on Lakbay TV before 2006. NOTE: according to the people at Kawayantech, this bamboo jeepney was built by government worker Chris Adriatico in 1992 ):

Bamboo Bikes by Kawayan Tech (Oct 2009).  Video below shows clips of the bamboo bike building workshop by Craig Calfee held in the Yap Farm, San Jose, Tarlac last July 6-11, 2009: