Friday, March 04, 2011

Meet the Upcoming Bamboo Engineer

Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) Randy D. Fancubila
of the FITS Center at Dumalag, Capiz

By Niño S. Manaog
Capiz State University

Thirty-seven-year-old Randy D. Fancubila, Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) of the Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center in Dumalag, Capiz, has many reasons to be happy about.

In 2010, the MS nominee who has been into furniture making for fifteen years, was appointed MS or farmer scientist by the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC) for bamboo and engineered bamboo technology.

Since the FITS Center’s launch in 2009, Manager Ronelyn de Tomas has proactively initiated activities and a number of exposures for the members of the Dumalag Bamboocraft Producers Cooperative, an association of some 28 bamboocraft producers led by MS Fancubila, its president. In these opportunities, Fancubila and his members actively took part in trainings and workshops on bamboo technologies held in their FITS center and across the province of Capiz.

Prior to his appointment as MS by WESVARRDEC, Ms. De Tomas already sent him to various study tours and trainings related to bamboo and bamboo technology across the region and even in other parts of the country. Said exposures inspired the sprightly bamboo enthusiast to learn the nitty-gritty of making engineered bamboo. "Gin-try kong obrahon—on my own initiative. Ti, ok man!" (I tried my hand on making it myself. And it turned out well), Fancubila quips.

MS Fancubila's sample dining table is made of engineered bamboo produced in his backyard workshop in barangay Sta. Cruz, Dumalag, Capiz.

Recently, he finished making a sample dining table from engineered bamboo slats produced in his workshop—which WESVARRDEC RTGG Coordinator Anna Mae Relingo considered very satisfactory—the MS hopes to acquire or—if possible, be granted—bamboo-processing machines needed to turn out engineered bamboo slats or planks. Fancubila showcased this and other products at the second bimonthly meeting of FITS centers across Capiz with the Capiz State University, their partner member agency.

While he claims to have pursued engineering bamboo first among his group, Fancubila says he preferred to do so for a number of reasons. For one, Fancubila knows that the use of bamboo ostensibly supports sustainable agriculture. Every bamboo node being cut for processing produces 3 to 6 bamboo shoots re-growth—the indispensable value of self-sustaining grass which offers many uses. Fancubila is also aware that by producing engineered bamboo slats, he makes available a raw material whose value is a good if not better alternative to wood—thereby adding value to the commodity.

In December 2010, Fancubila joined the WESVARRDEC’s cross-visit to Central Luzon. The WESVARRDEC contingent composed of a number of newly appointed MSs and other personnel visited the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), the Philippine Carabao Center and PhilRice, among others. There, Fancubila saw that farming and agricultural practices are serious business in central Luzon, a fact that amazed him.

Recently this year, Fancubila led the training of his own cooperative members on the project survey on bamboo node development held in their FITS Center Dumalag, which houses a bagsakan center for their cooperative’s bamboocrafts and products. This opportunity made him realize that nothing seems impossible with technology. For Fancubila, advances in development technology always “enable us to achieve faster and obtain more efficient results.”

Conducted for the same purpose was the training needs assistance led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Capiz where Fancubila helped in identifying the priority needs of the members of the bamboo cooperative. Fancubila says their bamboo cooperative has to acquire one unit of surfacer, one thickness planer, and one jointer planer, all of which are crucial to producing and fabricating quality engineered bamboo products.

The author showcases an engineered bamboo slat displayed by MS Fancubila at FITS Center Dumalag in Poblacion, Dumalag, Capiz.

Given these constraints, Fancubila rather considers them a challenge, expressing optimism on the Science and Technology-based Farm (STBF) currently being evaluated by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD). The proposed project will surely benefit his Dumalag cooperative which fully supports and campaigns activities and trainings on bamboo and bamboo technology. Fancubila’s STBF is due for implementation anytime this year.

Though the bamboo furniture maker’s hands are full, producing engineered bamboo slats and turning out bamboo furniture, he also keeps his fingers crossed for the best things yet to come.

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