Saturday, May 12, 2012

VILLAR FOUNDATION: Celebrates 20th Anniversary from Saving a River to Securing Livelihoods

Some of you might have watched the infomercial about the former  Congresswoman Cynthia Villar and a young woman (in her early twenties) on television lately. Just like you, I am also curious on how this young woman was helped by the Villar Foundation.

I got the chance to visit Las Pinas City in the southern part of Metro Manila.  During our visit, I was informed that the Villar Foundation is celebrating their 20th year of service. This Foundation is led by former CongW. Cynthia Villar, who is its Managing Director. The Villar Foundation has a lot of projects that paved the way to the improvement of the City of Las Pinas.

Our first stop that morning is the The COCONUT COIR and PEAT ENTERPRISE.

The COCONUT COIR and PEATS Enterprise was established due to a growing number of mounds of coconut husks that used to pile up on a daily basis in the market and sidewalks of Las Pinas. These fill up the city garbage trucks, which necessitates more trips in getting the garbage, thus increasing the garbage disposal costs.

So with that problem, the city government of Las Pinas headed by then former Cong.W Cynthia Villar, thought of a way to utilize the natural advantages of the coconut husks.

  • -10% made of bristle fiber.
  • - 20% mattress fiber.
  • -70% coir dusts or wastes.

In the past, coir dusts were just made into ropes. Then the former Cong.W Villar learned about the DECORTICATING MACHINE invented by the Dean of the Bicol State University (Dept. of Agriculture). He taught her how to use this invention in the production of COCONET.

I learned during my visit to Brgy. Aldana (where the COCONUT COIR and PEATS Enterprise was situated) how the coco coir was made.

  • First collecting the used coconut husks. The husks should be dried before putting it at the decorticating machine.
  • Husks are shredded and and become peats.
  • The peats are then segregated.
  • After segregation it is now ready for the looming process.
  • After looming it is now considered good for twining.
The Coconut Coir enterprise is very helpful for the jobless women in the vicinity, since it generates income for these families. The mothers can bring their children to work, thus eliminating their worries in leaving their children unattended at home

Our next stop was at The Handloom Blanket Weaving Enterprise. This Enterprise according to Engr. Dexter Gonzalez is also supported by the earnings made by the Coconut Coir Enterprise. Former Cong.W Cynthia Villar decided to put up this weaving center to answer the high costs of purchasing large quantity of China-mats which were donated to typhoon-stricken victims. In this stance, she decided to put up this center which will also support the women living idly in the Barangay of Pulang Lupa I.

Each weaver can produce 3 blankets a day and earn almost Php4,300 a month.

I think this enterprise also helps the dying business of hand-woven products like mats and blankets. It invigorates our craftsmanship in making handcrafted products, which we can proudly call Filipino made.

Our next stop from hand-woven products is The Arts and Craft Center. The Arts and Crafts Center boasts a lot of products made from Water Hyacinth  (Water Lilies). I especially liked the baskets made from the Water Hyacinth. Upon laying eyes on the baskets, I told myself that I will buy them, but sadly I decided not to buy them because it might make my other co-passengers uncomfortable. So for the meantime, I planned to visit the center again. These baskets are very affordable compared to those commercially sold at malls. This Arts and Crafts Center also welcomes those who do not have jobs, since the workers here are also paid for the number of products they make.

How do they do craft Baskets from Water Hyacinths?
  • They harvest first the Water Hyacinths
  • Dry the stacks
  • Cut the wire for frame
  • Form the frame
  • Weld the wire



  • Trim exposed fiber/stalk
  • Apply Glue
  • Blow torch and varnish
The finish product- BASKET made from Water Hyacinth

After feeding our eyes with masterpieces made from Water Hyacinth, we also visited the the rehabilitated river which was under the project of former Cong.W Cynthia Villar's project "Sagip-Ilog"

From saving a river, former Cong.W Villar also thought of how to turn Las Pinas's everyday garbage into something useful. So Mrs. Villar thought of introducing composting to all the barangays. At first many residents opposed the idea because they thought that having a composting site in a barangay would only mean more flies and bad odors, but because of the help of the parish priest and their communication efforts in educating the residents, they were able to start the project. The idea was for Mrs. Villar to invest in a composting facility, and the barangay will provide a 36 sq. meter lot. After this they educated every household on how to segregate their garbage. Garbage are then collected and brought to the composting site.

 Here is a video I took when the actual demo of composting was done.
Click here to watch the video.

The video I took was in a composting site in Brgy. Pamplona Dos in Las Pinas City. "A composting machine can produce 1,000 kilos of compost in a month", says Brgy. Chairman (Brgy. Pamplona Dos) Roberto Villalon. Today there is at least one composting facility in all of the 20 barangays of Las Pinas. There are 47 Rotary Composters operating which provides livelihood to 141 families

The Composting facility.

The actual coconut and food residuals mixed together before putting on the composting facility.

The finish product, Organic Compost sold at Php30 a kilo.

Brgy. Chairman Roberto Villalon showed us how Vermis (worms) are used to process organic wastes into nutrient-rich soil.

The Kangkong here is very abundant because of the "vermi" and compost used in cultivating it.

This month the Villar foundation is celebrating its 20th year. They continue the vision they have started 20 years ago with the inter-dependencies of each social enterprise they have started. These projects are geared to cleaning the river to establishing a coconut coir enterprise, composting sites in all the 20 barangays, and boosting livelihood for the Las Pinas constituents. At the same time, they are also reviving Filipino craft and ingenuity through its Filipino-made products like the baskets woven from Water Hyacinth. One thing is sure, it is not just an overnight task to be made.  With patience and perseverance, the Villar Foundation, through the efforts of former Cong.W Cynthia Villar, every vision is a dream waiting to be a reality. 

After visiting the various social enterprises that the Villar Foundation has built, we were treated to a sumptuous lunch at the Villar residence. I was told that we will be having lunch with former Cong.W Cynthia Villar. I was excited and at the same time anxious to ask her questions

Mrs. Cynthia Villar is a woman who sits down and have casual conversation with no frills at all. I asked her why she and her family is all-out when it comes to helping their city, and even supporting and investing money on their city projects. She answered without battling an eyelash, that they have been fortunate and successful in all their endeavors. For this reason, it is just wise to share their blessing and knowledge through these social and income-generating projects. 

Visiting and having heard all her views about what the Villar Foundation has done for the city of Las Pinas made me wish that improvements like these can also be done in the same city that I lived in.
Thank you Mrs.Cynthia Villar for hosting our yummy lunch. I hope there will be
 more time to talk to you next time.

The vision of Villar Foundation may sound skeptical at first but if we only learn to open our eyes to the good that it can do, more improvements and opportunities may come to us.

By the way I enjoyed our advocacy trip so I took a lot of photos and you may take a closer look here.


  1. Love the green advocacy of Villar Foundation aside from giving jobs to the nearby barangay..

  2. congratulations to the Villar Foundation! Kudos for helping improve the environment and the community, that's the most important thing

  3. wow! they helped a lot of people from the livelihood projects. good job Villar Foundation.

  4. A good way to give back to the community.

  5. Interesting.. hope the projects will attain a high level of sustainability so that more people could benefit from it. Keep up the good work.

  6. It was my first time to see the Molino Dam and get to know more of the Villar Foundation. I am lucky to be part of the group invited in this activity. Thanks for sharing your thoughts abt it, Janese!
    Sharing mine too, here's the link

  7. i love her advocacy.. She's really changing the lives of her constituents

  8. Our country is one of the most blessed when it comes to Natural Resources , We almost have all the materials through crops, animal, fouls ect. but we tend to give unfinished products to our neighboring countries. Its good that this foundation has done something that is unique and different .I just hope that if ever they seat in a higher office on the next term that employees will have security of tenure and good laws regarding on it. Making Molino Dam clean and maintained should be a model thing to do nationwide because we tend to destroy our lakes , beaches and sea just for income sake ect.

  9. Those baskets made from water lilies look pretty. I would love to buy some of them for my house! :)

  10. It's always nice to read about advocacies like this. Thanks for sharing! :)

  11. Wow! Love how Las Pinas is becoming a model city. Great job to CongW. Villar and to the Villar Foundation.. :)

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