Jane Liwan is a one-woman trash transformer — and a community inspiration. This week a team from ABSCBN braved the rough roads to document her beautiful and inspiring bottle home.
Every day Jane goes through her small town of Besao and collects plastics from the local stores. She carries the big sacks back to her house.
“Every day, I try to make at least one Ecobrick”
At home she sits outside in her garden with a bamboo stick and a box of plastic bottles. With a coffee at her side she methodically stuffs wrapper after wrapper, cellophane after cellophane, plastic after plastic into plastic bottles. Little by little, she has taken down the old and grey hollow-block walls of her house and replaced them with an array of Ecobricks and glowing, colour-water filled glass bottle bricks.
Jane works as a utility worker at the Besao District Hospital. There she is responsible for dealing with the plastic trash that the hospital generates on a daily bases — syringes, vials, tubes, diapers and much more.
Like in all towns and cities in the Cordilleras there are no proper recycling facilities for this type of plastic waste. For a long time Jane would have to bring her waste into the forest or to a pit to burn or bury it.
“I felt bad about this. I knew that this was not good for the environment”.
In March 2013, she learned about a new technology that was being developed in Mt. Province to put plastics to indefinite use: Ecobricks. “I got excited. This was finally a solution to our waste problem”.
But what do with the Ecobricks? With her limited salary from her hospital work buying cement and sand for redoing her ailing walls was going to be expensive. Then she met Mahiitosh Eguia from the Maia Earth Village in Palawan. Through a workshop with the Besao LGU, Maui introduced a way to build with local clay — which like in most Cordillera communities, is in abundance. She also met Russell Maier, who has been working to develop ecobrick technology in Mt. Province. By making her own bricks, and using clay and glass bottles, her costs were dramatically reduced.
Since March 2014, Jane has redone the whole back and front of her house with bottles. The Ecobricks make benches and 4x4 glass bottles light up when the sun shines through them. The soothing and beautiful effect has drawn visitors from all around the province.
Her daughter, Aida Liwan who is also pioneering trash transformation through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development, says “It’s amazing to see the difference in my mother and her home. I have only now come to know that she is an artist. I am proud of her.”
According to Aida, “Before some people would make fun of her simple house. Who would have thought a single mum could use trash to transform her house to make it so much more liveable and stress free?”
According to Ahngelyne Valencia, a reporter from ABCSN “What she Jane has done is so wonderful and such a good example for others to follow – to make trash useful and beautiful.”
Jane and her house are featured on the above Ecobricks.org movie “Solving Plastic One Bottle at a Time”