Bamboo victory

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Bamboo may be the next most multi-used plant after the coconut tree. Like coco lumber, it can be used as material for housing, finding application for the making of walls, floors and roofs. It can be cut into sticks to make frames for parol, the traditional Christmas lantern.

One can drink from it while a bamboo pole is also necessary for roasting pig or fashioning cannons that are traditionally used to welcome the New Year.

A more creative way of utilizing this hardy plant is in the making of musical instruments, like flutes. The Las Piñas Bamboo Organ is a classic example of this tropical plant being used to make tuneful melodies. Bamboo shoot or labong is even cooked as dinengdeng, an Ilocano vegetable-based broth garnished with saluyot leaves.

For 23-year-old Earl Patrick Forlales, a chemistry and material science engineering graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, the bamboo is literally a winner.

Forlales used a bamboo hut design as his entry in the contest for solutions to urbanization problems organized by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) as part of its 150th anniversary celebration. The concept won on Thursday the RICS Cities for Our Future Challenge in the Southeast Asia region.

The pre-fabricated, 12-square-meter bamboo house called Cubo, which draws inspiration from the bahay kubo or nipa hut owned by Forlales’ grandmother, bested 1,200 entries in the region as the judges were impressed by its simplicity, feasibility, affordability and sustainability.

The Cubo is made from bamboo that has been engineered to last 50 years. It can be fabricated in one week and assembled in just four hours. One unit is good for two persons, and can be rented out for only P450 a month. It can be easily transported, assembled and disassembled.

Forlales’ prize for Cubo is £50,000 which he plans to use in building prototypes and model units. He plans to build 10,000 units of Cubo by 2023 with the help of investors.

Filipinos also stand to win from the Cubo as it may be the answer to the housing shortage for calamity victims and poor families.

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