Good Neighbors

Turning A Natural Disaster Into An Opportunity To Help Others

Filipinos "give back" using what a volcanic eruption left behind.


When one of the Philippine's most active and deadliest volcanoes started spewing ash and poisonous gas into the air last week, most people weren't thinking about ways to help clean it all up.

Now, about a week later, the mayor of the city of Biñan has come up with a way to put the fine grey ash that has blanketed the city to good use. He's asking residents to collect the ash in sacks so that environmental officials can collect them and use it to make bricks to help rebuild buildings that were damaged by the eruption.

“When the ash came, we thought we'd exchange the white sand which we mix with plastics to be converted into bricks with ash. We did it and they came out sturdy," Biñan's mayor, Walfredo Dimaguila, told Reuters .

Biñan City Information Office Facebook

The bricks are made at a state-owned factory where the ash is combined with sand, cement and discarded plastic. So, not only are they using the ash from the volcano, they're recycling plastic that would otherwise end up in the city's landfills.

The facility can produce around 5,000 bricks per day, which will be used to repair schools and homes that were damaged by the eruption.

Dimaguila says that other companies are already interested in purchasing the bricks, which he plans to sell at around 23 cents US each. He says that all of the proceeds they make will go to helping people affected by Taal.

While Biñan suffered very little damage from the volcano aside from the ash blanketing the city, Batangas, one of the lakeside towns closer to Taal, was devastated. Evacuees are left wondering if they have homes to return to.

Dimaguila (pictured below, right) is hopeful that the bricks will play a vital role in helping the community get back on its feet.

Biñan City Information Office Facebook

“The misfortune of our neighbors in Batangas is there," he said. “Let's transform this into opportunity."

What an innovative way to turn a natural disaster into an opportunity to do something positive for others.

Biñan City Information Office Facebook

If you'd like to help the victims of the Taal volcano, consider donating to any of the following organizations:

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