Filipino-designed electric bike that uses climate-smart bamboo to pave way to Ph being globally known world class bamboo producer

April 3, 2023

A Filipino-designed electric bike (EB) brand-named “Banatti” that uses innovative, environmentally sustainable bamboo  is seen to pave the way to Philippines’ being a globally known producer of world class bamboo products.

   Speaking in an “Usapang Kawayan” bamboo forum, Christopher Paris Lacson, Banatti EB’s creator,  said the trendy motorcycle is just the beginning of a highly promising sector that has the potential to catapult Philippines to industrialization.

   “A bike like this can inspire the young, the leaders, the countrymen, and the industries to say ‘Kaya pala yan’ (It can be done!),” said Lacson.  “It’s not (just) about making money.  It’s about making us proud.  We can have our own. We’re creative.  We’re smart.  We’re intelligent.”

   The team that developed Banatti Green Falcon chose to use bamboo as “it is the mandate of the country.”

   “This God-given supergrass is one of our tickets out of poverty.   When people see a picture of Banatti Green Falcon, it brings an incredible feeling. Something goes on to their mind, something shifts,” said Lacson.

   The dream of using bamboo as a jump-off point for Philippines’ development of rural-based industries is  a much practical vision due to the abundance of bamboo in the Philippines, said Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) Vice Chairman Deogracias Victor B. Savellano.

Single engine, light experimental aircraft built and designed by Antonio de Leon in the 1950s

   Through his Kilusang 5K (Kawayan:  Kalikasan, Kabuhayan, Kaunlaran, Kinabukasan), Savellano hosts Usapang Kawayan in order to sustain brain storming on bamboo development as envisioned by Executive Order 879 since 2010.

   “If you analyze, kawayan is not like other plants as jatropha that government once asked us to grow.  We have taken kawayan.  You see it in every barangay, but no one plants,” Savellano said. “That’s why we’re fighting for kawayan. It’s not that we don’t want other plants.  But let’s prioritize kawayan because planting it brings results.”

   The equivalent of a P20 million-worth farm-to-market project makes for a big expansion in bamboo planting.  For one, the 20-hectare plantation project of Kilusang 5K in Karugo, Montalban just costs P1.5 million, even initially.

   “What will you plant? The hardwood that you will harvest in 10-20 years, or the bamboo that you can harvest in 3-4 years?  And we already have many existing clumps.  With the proper management, you can benefit economically immediately.”

Durable body shell

   The Banatti Green Falcon, crafted by Lacson in 2017, has a body shell made of highly durable, elegant-looking, light-weight (four kilo only versus 2-3x more weight in metal ) bamboo. 

Bamboo mobile designed by the old Department of Transportation

   Its body shell that is made of bamboo may just be worth P5,000.  But using bamboo in sophisticated, industrial products can bring about tremendous multiplier effect on the economy.

   “The bamboo that created the body shell of the motorcycle may just be worth P5,000.  But someone has to plant it.  Someone has to cut it.  Someone has to bring it to the place where we bought it from.  Just this, and there are four levels of job across spectrum,” said Lacson.

   “In industries like furnishing or automotive, there are so many tentacles, many roots involved in the design of the product.”

   If other nationalities such as the Germans of Porsche find value in natural materials such as bamboo for vehicles, much more should the Philippines find value in its own indigeneous plant. 

   An advantage of bamboo body shell to complement an electric motorcycle as in Banatti is it can install a good sound system that can enable one to hear music very well, unlike gasoline-run ones. 

   Lacson himself said the Philippines has long been a pioneer of industrial bamboo design as cited by a local newspaper in the early 1950s. 

   Filipino Antonio de Leon designed a single-engine, light experimental aircraft XL-14-MAYA.  It used a type of woven bamboo called WOBEX, woven bamboo experimental.

   Another product is the bamboo mobile, a type of jeepney spearheaded by the Department of Transportation of long ago.  Its  body is made of bamboo. Bambu Batu (House of Bamboo) cites many other modern, fashionable furniture and clothing products made of bamboo.

   Now that climate-related disasters have shown Philippines’ vulnerability, much more should Philippines tap now what is native and ecologically sustainable.

   “History tells us about the ‘ugong’ created by kawayan.  If that has once been happening in Pasig (where bamboo plants in Barangay Ugong hold on relentlessly to the soil and just create the wild ugong sound), why do we choose to spend millions for other projects?” said Savellano.      

   Infrastructure projects–like riprapping that protects soil from erosion– can cost much more money. Whereas, bamboo plants have been proven to control erosion.

   With its rich network of roots and rhizomes and permanent canopy, bamboo protects the soil. 

   “(Bamboo’s root system) grows in the surface layer of the soil (20-60 centimeters deep) and can reach up to 100 kilometers per hectare.  Rhizomes can survive for more than a century, allowing bamboo to regenerate even if stems would be cut or destroyed in a fire or storm,”

according to

EO 879

   EO 879 envisioned bamboo to be a tool for industrialization based on agricultural development. Also, it should be planted as Philippines’ contribution Southeast Asia’s commitment to plant 20 million million hectares of new forest to improve the environment.

   “Bamboo can be easily transformed into a cash crop for farmers… thereby alleviating poverty.   The growing advocacy for green products is fueling the rapid growth of the US$8 billion per annum market for traditional and non-traditional bamboo products,” according to EO 879. 

   “(Bamboo) is fast becoming a cost effective and attractive complement and/or alternative to plastic, metal and wood materials and can generate more jobs and self-employment opportunities in both rural and urban areas.” (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

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