While checking up on Antidao National Highschool’s ecobrick construction last month I heared a great anecdote that affirms today’s relevance of ancestral wisdom.
Antidao is a small barangay of Sagada in the Northern Philippines– a village nestled in the mountains and surrounded by the verdent terraces that the community cultivates for their rice.
During a parent teacher meeting, the teacher who was leading the Ecobricking was presenting their intention to build an Ecobrick sign installation with our cob mortar technique. However, the poor teacher was assaulted by the doubts of the parents on the sturdiness and longevity of using clay to build with. These days, of course, everyone builds square, cement houses, and cob is just… well… mud! The poor teacher had no experience herself with cob or clay, only a past conversation with me to go on.
Then, at the back of the room, a grandmother stood up and reprimanded them all: “You don’t remember, but this is how we used to build our houses, walls and terraces. We didn’t have to buy steel bars or bring up sand or cement, just the straw from the field and the stones from cliffs. They were strong and stood for a long time.”.
Its often a big challenge to convince people of the merit of cobs. Its great to reminded that we are treading in the well honed path of our ancestors.
The students have since been overwhelmingly passionate in mashing the clay and cobbing their Ecobrick wall sign. With one eye on the solutions of the past, and one eye on the problems of today, we move on! Unlike cement, the locally made cob doesn’t have to be purchased or imported, its not hard on the skin, and best of all, it enables the ecobricks to be removed and recycled when one day the wall comes to its end.
Antidao has been experimenting with a new technique of laying Ecobricks to make a pixelated school sign. By laying the Ecobricks, one on top of the other (rather than one between the other) they have written the DepEd motto: “Honesty is the Best Policy” using the bottom colors of their Ecobricks. The bricks are layered using locally made cob then covered with a then finishing layer of cement.