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Siquijor LGUs support bamboo industry

Drawing inspiration from bamboo enthusiasts in Central Visayas who visited the island province of Siquijor, the local government units (LGUs) in the province recognize the significance of expanding and strengthening the bamboo industry in the province.

This was bolstered by the underlying desire to affect growth and development on the island and the pressing need to restore the Siquijor environment amid the apparent yet unintentional harm done by the residents in their quest for a living.

“Nagkagamay na atong mga trees tungod kay kini gigamit sa paghimo ug mga balay ug mga furniture (Our trees are getting fewer because they are used to make houses and furniture. We need an alternative),” said Paul Tomogsoc of the provincial office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). 

Tomogsoc noted the potential for propagating bamboo in the province with the thriving furniture industry.

He said bamboo thrives well in Siquijor, and its utilization is becoming massive, but people do not consider planting bamboo to sustain them. 

Tomogsoc cited the most commonly used bamboo species in the province, such as Kawayan Tinik (Scientific Name: Bambusa Blumeana ) and Bagakay (Schizostachyum lumampao), that local artisans and craftsmen use for building huts, furniture and sculptures, fences, fish pots, or locally named “bobo,” and kitchen utensils, among others. 

Kawayan Tinik, also known as Spiny Bamboo or Thorny Bamboo, is said to be a good food resource because the bamboo shoots can be eaten. They are rich in fiber and phytosterols and have a good amount of thiamin, niacin, and vitamins B6, A, and E. 

It is used in construction, basketry, parquets, chopsticks, furniture, and fences. 

Due to bamboo’s numerous benefits, DENR and the Department of Trade and Industry organized the Siquijor Provincial Bamboo Industry Development Council (SPBIDC), composed of bamboo advocates, back in 2018. 

The council aims to promote the propagation of bamboo and establish a bamboo village as a tourist destination on the island while looking into its potential to address environmental and economic issues.

Excited and motivated, the advocates who call themselves "bambooang" took the time and shared their experiences, best practices, and love for bamboo as they urged and inspired locals to grow them, considering their benefits to humanity.

The visit took place during the provincial celebration of World Bamboo Day (WBD) on September 30, which was highlighted by an information caravan and the planting of different bamboo species in the six municipalities on the island as the first major activity of the SPBIDC.

Members of the Siquijor Provincial Bamboo Industry Development Council (SPBIDC) planting bamboos in Siquijor as part of the World Bamboo Day Celebration. (PIA Siquijor)
The Birth of SPBIDC

The SPBIDC was organized by virtue of Executive Order 2023-JVSV-015, signed by Siquijor Governor Jake Vincent S. Villa. 

The executive order acknowledges that the planting and use of bamboo will significantly contribute to the mitigation of climate change and disaster management, considering its carbon capture capability and cheaper reforestation costs.  

Further, bamboo can be easily transformed into a cash crop for farmers and community-based forest management agreement holders who engage in its cultivation, thereby alleviating poverty. 

Bamboo, Tourism, Economy, and SDG

Vice Mayor Justin Labuca of Asturias, Cebu, who chairs the Cebu Bamboo Industry Development Council (CBIDC), outlined the advantages and benefits of bamboo and its relevance to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in terms of the economic growth and tourism development of the province.

In his message during Siquijor's World Bamboo Day celebration, Labuca shared that the first item in the 17 SDGs that bamboo addresses is poverty. Others include zero hunger, climate action, life on land, and partnerships for the goals.

"Mananom tag kawayaan, ma-harvest nato (We plant bamboo,; we also harvest them),” he said. 

The vice mayor also cited other uses of bamboo as a source of food and livelihood, shade, wind-breaker, and more.

Labuca’s initiative to plant bamboo on a 10-hectare lot in 2016 that they now harvest and has become a source of his community's livelihood serves as an inspiration for the local chief executives and other officials. 

He shared that his town built floating cottages from the bamboo they grew and how Siquijor province can replicate and become a popular tourist destination because of bamboo.

Commitment signing during the celebration of World Bamboo Day on September 30, 2023 in Siquijor, which was highlighted by an information caravan and the planting of different bamboo species in the six municipalities in the island. (PIA Siquijor)

Fr. Victor Labao said, from his experience, bamboo is a very good source of income. He said there is a need to plant and propagate more of them so they can significantly improve the environment and the locals' quality of life. 

He said bamboos are beneficial to the environment because they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the ground. “These provide the people with a source of livelihood as well as food, clothing, and shelter,” he said.

Siquijor Provincial Planning and Development Officer (PPDO) Jason Manos said the provincial government encourages everyone to plant bamboo. 

"As mentioned by many, pinakadaghan ang benefits of bamboo (bamboo has a lot of benefits). Kung magbalay ka, pwede maggamit ug bamboo (if you build a house, you can bamboo). Of course, bamboo is also a natural barrier to protect us. In case of mga bagyo (typhoons), it can be a windbreaker, natural breaker gyud sya. Bamboo is also one of the effective carbon sinks, it lessens greenhouse effect, and fights against climate change," he shared.

The PPDO hopes that the activity will not just last there but will also be able to spread awareness about the value of bamboo and inspire more people from both the public and private sectors. 

Siquijor Mayor Richard Quezon, while acknowledging the challenges behind the bamboo industry due to the locals' lack of awareness of its importance, also thanked the bamboo advocates for coming to the province. "Nakahatag mo ug inspirasyon sa pagdasig niining atong mga katawhan pagprogagate niining bamboo (You have inspired and encouraged the people to propagate bamboo),” he told the bamboo enthusiasts.

San Juan Mayor James Capundag Jr., while grateful for the area where bamboo were planted in his locality, is also thankful for the Bamboo Day celebration as the awareness campaign has reached his town.

He admitted that the wild, original bamboo that used to be abundant in the municipality is now on the verge of extinction due to frequent cuttings and mass utilization without planting replacements.  

Fr. Victor Labao, co-chair of Region 7 Bamboo Council, giving his message during the celebration of World Bamboo Day in Siquijor on September 30, 2023. (PIA Siquijor)

"Walay sobra dili gani makasalingsing. Mao na’y nakahurot (They left nothing, even those that should be sprouting),” he says, referring to the bamboo that were cut and used in building boats and pump boats, beach resorts, furniture, toothpicks, and barbecue sticks, among others. 

Lazi Mayor Phil Moore Largo is also grateful for the activities set to mark the World Bamboo Day celebration, such as bamboo planting and the information drive. “Amo ning gi hangop, amo ning gihatagan gyud ug sakto nga mga suporta aron mahimo ni, magnalampuson ning atong kalihukan (We have embraced this program and we will give it the right support to make this program successful),” he said. 

Largo cited the previous support they gave to the proposal of planting bamboo along the riverbanks in Lazi, as he also pledged to improve and increase bamboo plantations in his town.

Maria Mayor Roselyn Asok, who is emphatic about enhancing the bamboo industry in the province and establishing a bamboo village in her town, said that bamboo has existed for a long time but was not given much attention.  

"Now is the time. I do not believe that it’s too late ug muingon ta’g (and we say it's) impossible. Nothing is impossible. Only your mind is giving you hindrances or limitations. You can reach whatever you want basta lang apilan ug kakugi (if we put hard work behind it),” she added.

Asok urged everyone to go back to nature and preserve bamboo, not only for today but for future generations. She admitted that bamboo does not grow quickly, but she is optimistic that once it is started, it will boost the province's tourism and economy. 

Enrique Villanueva Sangguniang Bayan Chair on Environment, Belinda B. Inao, also acknowledged the locals' lack of care and appreciation for bamboo. "Gasige ra mig panguha ug kawayan pero wa gyud mi nakatimaan nga nananom mi. Sugilanon sa amoang mga ginikanan, tinanom sa amoang mga apohan, wa gani mi kakita sa amohang apohan nga gatanom pud (We kept getting bamboos; but never did I remember anyone planting it. Our parents told us they were planted by our grandparents; we didn't even see any of them planting),” said Inao. 

She said she was amazed and inspired by the visitors for helping the locals be aware of the importance of bamboo. She thanked them for reaching out and involving the town in the celebration of World Bamboo Day. 

Likewise, Larena Mayor Cyrus Vincent Calibo was proud to be part of the celebration. Realizing how beautiful bamboo is and how it should work well with the town's direction to provide livelihood to the people, his team is giving their full support to the endeavor.

Moving forward 

Siquijor Provincial Tourism Office-In-Charge Atty. Dale Louis Tudtud noted the importance of building partnerships and conservation policies on the island regarding the development of the bamboo industry and tourism.

"We have so many gifts. We’re very blessed. We have lush greeneries, and of course, very clear seas," says Tudtud. He hopes that with the partnership, the province can enact policies against extended urbanization. 

He added that foreigners and local tourists come to Siquijor to appreciate its ecological and natural beauty. "Siquijor has one of the most diverse marine life. We can see there are various marine sanctuaries. We’re trying to protect and preserve what really makes us us, and that is our lush greenery, our beautiful environmental gifts," the tourism officer says. (RAC/PIA7 Siquijor)

About the Author

Fayette Riñen

Regional Head

Region 7

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