Bamboo is one of the most versatile materials found in abundance in the Philippines. From furniture making to housing construction and even good old fashioned writing paper, bamboo has been a staple commodity in the Philippines for years. But Professor Benjamin Mangubat of the University of the Philippines has discovered another novel way to utilize bamboo, and it may not be what you expect. He has created the world’s firstsolar-powered bamboo car, known as “Bangkarwayan”, and it is taking the Metro Manila streets by storm.
The car, meaning “bamboo boat” in Tagalog, can not only travel on the streets of the Philippines but can also, in theory, sail around the country too. This history professor sure knows how to make the most out of his creation. Although the vehicle still has to be tested in water, it is well equipped to stay afloat, boasting a variety of flotation devices including empty plastic bottles, a propeller, a rudder and a separate engine.
The vehicle can seat up to six people, quite an impressive feat considering the craft is the size of a subcompact car. And getting to your destination may not take as long as you think. Equipped with solar panels, two sets of five 12-volt batteries, and a windmill for some extra boost, the car can run over 40 kilometers an hour. Additionally, with its boat like qualities, the car will not be destroyed when the rainy season hits, withMangubat stating that he wants to test out the vehicle “the next time Metro Manila is hit by a great flood.”
To achieve its unique look, Mangubatadorned the vehicle with a “banig” or sleeping mat in a dark brown shade which gives it a natural, eco-friendly look. In addition to the banig, winnowing baskets or “bilao” were fitted to the roof of the car for extra protection.
After six years of hard work, the car was finally completed in February of this year. The professor hopes the vehicle will be driven on the UP campus located at Diliman, Quezon City, and who knows; maybe we will be seeing a lot more self-made eco-vehicles running on the streets of the capital very soon.