MANILA, Philippines - If water hyacinths or water lilies are the " scourge" of Cotabato as they caused massive flooding, in Las Piñas City, they are a source of livelihood.
Five years ago, Zapote River in Las Piñas City mirrored how Rio Grande de Mindanao River looks today, with water lilies blocking the flow of the water, resulting in rising flood waters.
But city folk have since discovered the many products one can make out of water lily with little or no capital needed.
"Wala namang cost of raw materials. Parang ang investment nila is the labor part of it," said Cynthia Villar, managing director of Villar Foundation.
Not many people know that the stalk of a water lily can be used in many ways. When dried, it is as sturdy as buri and abaca, but softer and easier to use for weaving.
"Ang kagandahan niya, matibay siya at malambot," said Dong Torres, livelihood trainer of Villar Foundation.
With the use of a backhoe, city folk harvest the water lilies from the Zapote River. These are then dried under the sun or in an oven and fed into a machine for pressing. The resulting material is used for weaving many products.
Aside from using them as material for bags and baskets,water lilies can be utilized in making decor,furniture, slippers,and cheap organic fertilizer.
A lot of water lily products have already been exported to other countries, but more than this, the water lily industry is appreciated for providing livelihood to poor families.
Margie Magallanes has been making water lily products for a year now. Each week, she earns more than P1,500, which is a big help to her in raising her 3 children.
"Nakakabayad na kami ng kuryente... Tapos may budget araw-araw, pamasahe para sa estudyante," Magallanes said.
Villar said their foundation is open to starting a similar program in Cotabato to help in alleviating the flood problem in the city. They are currently looking for a non-government organization to partner with for this project, and are ready to help the local government if asked.
Information taken from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/06/23/11/water-hyacinths-can-be-source-livelihood Read more...