Senile coconut trees are still economically sound even beyond their fruit-bearing years. It only takes ingenuity to make them useful. Locals in the Asia-Pacific region turn these waste into items that generate extra income for them.

Coconut trees are productive up to 80 years of its life.  Beyond this period, they have to be cut down to make way for high yielding varieties. But instead of leaving them in the fields to rot, the locals in the coconut-growing countries convert them into some useful items.

senile coconut trees

Commercial products from senile coconut trees

Coconut farmers in the Asia-Pacific region know too well that rotten coconut trees are a breeding ground for pests, rodents, and insects – intruders that are unwanted in their farms and homes! And so, to minimize the waste from fallen coconut trees, the locals convert them into some commercially-viable products. Some of the items they have developed include:

Coconut lumber. Coco lumber is now considered a viable alternative to hardwood. Several suppliers and manufacturers are already making this a profitable business as demand for this type of wood continues to grow. It costs much less than the conventional hardwood.

Coconut fiberboard. The spathe, coir, and fronds of a coconut are major components of the coconut fiberboard (CFB). Manufacturers mix these fiber components with shredded wood and Portland cement to come up with some basic construction materials. Particularly, they make bricks, tiles, asbestos, cement hollow blocks, and plywood out of these components.

Charcoal. The coconut trunk and other sawmill residues are found to be a good source of charcoal and for energy. In the Philippines, particularly, the agriculture sector converts the coconut trunk charcoal into briquettes for greater strength and density. There’s now an increasing demand for these briquettes abroad.

senile coconut trees

Broomsticks. The central vein that holds the coconut leaves together is by no means the least useful part of the coconut tree. It’s an efficient cleaning tool. In most Asian households, broomsticks are used to sweep and collect the dried leaves on their yard. It’s also used to remove the cobwebs and other dross. Broomsticks are called by different names in southeast Asia. Indonesians call it sapu lidi. While in the Philippines, it is called walis tingting in Tagalog or silhig in Cebuano.

Usually, the locals make one or two sets of broomsticks for their own use at home. Or, they may produce several bunches of it to sell at the market for additional income.

And with a bit of ingenuity, broomsticks make good Christmas tree, too. In some rural homes in the Philippines, the locals would turn a bunch of broomstick upside down. They meticulously decorate it with whatever comes up to their fancy. And… voila! You’ll be surprised at how the humble broomsticks transform into a beautiful Christmas tree.

senile coconut trees

Palm Sunday fronds. Coconut fronds are most in-demand on Palm Sunday. Catholic believers, particularly in the Philippines, use them for palaspas or decorated palm fronds.

Firewood. Bundles of dried coconut palms are a common sight in rural Philippine markets. The locals use them for firewood.

Food wraps. Aside from its seasonal demand during Lent, the palm fronds are also used to wrap foods. Some regional delicacies in the Philippines are contained in coconut leaves. In the Visayas and Mindanao regions, it’s common to see ready-to-go steamed rice in the market or at the barbecue stands. Locally called puso, this meal is the best match for barbecue and roasted pig (lechon). The locals informally call puso ‘hanging rice’ because they are displayed in the market exactly that way – hanging in bunches!  

Toothpicks and other uses. Did you know that some of the toothpick brands in the market are made of coconut midribs? Not only that! Midribs have also been used as barbecue skewers and brushes. They make beautiful home decors, too.

Novelty items. The brown fiber (guinit or ginit) that wraps around the coconut palms makes a strong material for some novelty items. The locals recycle them into fans, handbags, wooden bakya slipper straps, and many other home decors. In the olden times, helmets and caps were made out of guinit too. Although, these items are rarely seen now, if there is still any, at all.

With a bit of ingenuity, senile coconut trees can still be recycled into some income-generating products. By doing so, we reduce a few carbon footprints.

Would you consider patronizing recycled products from senile coconut trees?


Typhoon Yolanda survivors stitch life back up again

typhoon Yolanda
Compassion backpack

Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) have started rebuilding their lives. With the help of concerned groups, they sew functional bags for livelihood.

It may have been the worst blow that happened to their lives. But once again, Filipinos show the world how resilient they are! Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda that hit Eastern Visayas in the Philippines on November 8, 2013, have started rebuilding their lives.

While they may never forget the kind hearted souls who were quick to respond to their call for help, these survivors in Tacloban knew they cannot remain dependent on dole-outs forever. They needed something that could sustain them throughout their lives. They need a livelihood.

Typhoon Yolanda survivors sew functional backpacks

And so, with the help of young patriots from various sectors in the country, they decided to venture into sewing for commercial purpose.  They choose to sew functional backpacks. The concept behind the making of these bags is to create a disaster-resilient industry against an economy of dependency for survivors. The local government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) also extended additional technical skills training to them.

Survivors purposely call their bags Compassion since it calls for our continued support. By purchasing this bag, you will greatly help them rebuild their lives. And you will not regret getting it. Each of the distinctively identifiable bright red backpacks is 50% upcycled and made of these components:

  • the outer cover is made of high-grade Japanese truck tarpaulins
  • its inner lining is made of pre-loved jeans
  • it uses military-grade nylon thread for all stitching
  • each bag is sealed with genuine YKK zippers
  • it bears stylish leather lash tabs
  • its large inner pocket snugly fits a 13″ Macbook or any standard folder
  • its jean pockets can store the things you would normally have to keep in a pocket
  • it’s weather-resistant

typhoon Yolanda

Since its introduction to the market, Compassion instantly gained significant patronage. Some of the first to purchase the bag include artists, celebrities, designers, chefs, athletes, and social workers. And so far, the response from the public is overwhelming. In fact, each Compassion has now become a badge.

For purchasing the bag and for more information about Compassion, you may contact Taclob directly.


Get Compassion and give more…

For every Compassion backpack purchased, you help create jobs for the Yolanda survivors. You also get to support an eco-friendly and upcycled design. But most importantly, you will have the opportunity to help the children survivors cope up with the trauma of typhoon Yolanda.

Courage: keeping Yolanda children survivors afloat

When you buy a Compassion bag, you give a multi-functional school bag to a typhoon child survivor.

Courage bag

Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which hit the Eastern Visayas part of the Philippines, are determined to get back on their feet again.  With the assistance of compatriots and leading bag makers in the country, they start rebuilding their lives by sewing weather-resistant backpacks for commercial purposes.  The good thing about it is that not only do they aim to establish an income-generating project.  Survivors also keep survival preparedness in mind.

Along with the iconic bright red Compassion bags, they also make backpacks cum flotation device designed to equip young children in case something like Yolanda happens again.  Aptly called Courage, the bag aims to provide children a fighting chance in case of emergency.  It is also meant to help address a deep emotional trauma of uncertainty that still haunts children survivors to this day.

Get Compassion and give more…

A Courage bag is given to a child survivor every time you buy a Compassion backpack for yourself or as a gift item for someone else. Each Courage bag, which contains art materials and school supplies, has these features:

  • constructed with high-density, water-resistant nylon fabric
  • double stitched with military-grade nylon thread to ensure longevity
  • reflective striping on the front and back to enhance visibility at night or during search and rescue operations
  • utilizes two empty 2-liter PET bottles strapped to the side of the bag to keep a child afloat

Watch the video and see how Courage works.

Survivors who sew both Compassion and Courage got additional technical skills training from TESDA  (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority).

For details on how to help children survivors and purchase Compassion bags, please do visit Taclob.

Coconut wood: a viable source of building material

Coconut wood is a common construction material in many places of the Asia-Pacific region. Its properties are comparable to hardwood and seen as a viable source of building material and other applications.

Hardwood is one of the most in-demand materials in the construction and furniture industry. It’s also used in hundreds of other applications. But the supply of this material has become a scarcity in many markets lately. This is due to the stringent laws many governments imposed on the harvesting of rainforest trees.

Because of this, the business sector involved in the wood industry needs to find viable alternative sources. Demand has always been constant.

Coconut wood seen as a viable source of building material

Following to several different studies, it has been found that the coconut wood makes a viable source of building material and other applications.

Coconut wood building material

Coconut wood is the processed stem fiber from coconut palms. It’s an erect pole-like branchless trunk. Its body usually grows around 30 to 40 centimeters in diameter, while the base can reach up to a meter. When it is thoroughly sawn and seasoned, the high-density coconut wood can give its utmost performance. Its performance can be compared to, or even better than the conventional hardwood.

Unlike the conventional hardwood, the wood from the coconut palm does not have annual rings. Instead, hardness is defined according to its three degrees of density.

Low-density timber. It is the middle part of the coconut stem. It has a density of soft to medium at 200 to 400 kilograms per cubic meter. This part is used in non-load structures. You can use it in making panels, internal trim, and ceiling.

The low-density timber is also used in homewares application.

Medium-density timber. This is the sub-dermal portion of the coconut stem. It’s found right next to the high-density part. The medium-density timber is classified as medium-hard at 400 to 600 kilograms per cubic meter. This is the ideal material for walls, ceiling joists, and horizontal studs.

High-density timber is the dermal part, found at the periphery of the coconut stem. With a density of 600 to 900 kilograms per cubic meter, the high-density timber is classified as hard. This part is used in general applications. To name a few:

  • pillars
  • trusses
  • rafting
  • floor tiles or parquet
  • girts
  • floor joists
  • door jambs
  • purlins
  • balustrades
  • railings
  • decking
  • furniture
  • window frames
  • posts
  • scaffolding
  • and, other load-bearing structures

In some cases also, an entire coconut trunk can be utilized as power and telecommunication lines.

Where to source coconut wood

Coconut wood building material

The coconut palms are abundantly available in the Asia-Pacific region. You can particularly find them in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and India. Locals in these areas consider the coconut as one of the most important crops. They use its fruits in the production of oil and medicine. The coconut is also an important food ingredient for them.

Coconut trees yield fruits up to approximately 70 to 80 years of its life. After that, they become senile and unproductive. They have to be cut down to make way for new trees. And we are speaking of millions of senile coconuts every year!

Aside from this volume, thousands of fruit-yielding varieties are also felled by typhoons and hurricanes. We all know that the Asia-Pacific region receives around 20 weather conditions each year. So, you could just imagine how many (otherwise) wasted coconut tree by-products go to the landfills.

Thanks to those who discovered the actual commercial uses of the coconut wood. It has found a market. We can also be grateful to the different governments for the stricter laws on logging.

Turning to coconut wood is an ecologically-sound move. The coconut trees are easy to replace. Its seedlings grow rapidly on a variety of soils. Harvesting it is also cheaper and convenient. You would not need to clear extra space in moving your equipment to and from the logging area. Each tree is planted considerably far apart from the other for productive purposes. The space in between a line of coconut trees is enough for a vehicle to pass through. And the straight and branchless trunk of the coconut would not get in the way of a passing vehicle.

Another advantage of the coconut wood is that its market price is way lower than the conventional hardwood.

Coco toyo: condiment from coconut water


Soy sauce is one of the most important condiments that Filipinos cannot live without.  It’s the primary ingredient to the ever popular adobo dish.  And I bet you even have a favorite commercial brand that you can readily get from the supermarket or the nearest sari-sari store.  But, how about trying to make your own version of soy sauce? From coconut water, I mean.

coco water - toyoThere are significant bases why a coconut tree is called ‘the tree of life’. From its roots to the utmost tip of its leaves, you will surely find some good uses of a coconut. It provides several health benefits to mankind, as well as  hefty economic returns to those who cultivate it.

But, perhaps not many people are yet aware of the full potentials of coconut. Take for example the coconut water.  Even if most of us know of the amazing health benefits of this refreshing drink, it was only recently discovered that coconut water can also make a tasty and delightful condiment that can even be turned into an income-generating resource.  In fact, many coconut farmers today still discard this fluid when they do copra production.

Recent studies have found that coconut water can make very good substitute for the soybean-based sauce.  It is very easy to prepare, too.  You just collect a liter of coconut water and sift the tiny particles away.  Boil the coconut water in a pan for an hour or until the liquid thickens and turned dark.  Then, remove it from the fire.  Once cool, you may transfer your coconut soy sauce to a bottle container for proper storage.

That’s all it takes to make a healthy home-made condiment!

Aside from being healthy, coconut soy sauce, or coco toyo, does not necessarily have to contain preservatives; and it can last for around six months. It also does not require any additive to enhance its flavor because its natural taste is delicious enough.

Not only that!  You may even want to market it. It does not require huge capital to start a coco toyo  business.  Besides, it is now high time that we should turn to healthy eating habits and lifestyle.

Here is how to make “coco toyo”.  [Acknowledgement to Ms. Karren M. Verona, Executive Producer of Agri Tayo Dito TV program on ABS-CBN, who supplied this procedure]

coco toyo


      2 liters coconut water (Be sure that it is fresh and from any foreign particles)

  1. Put the coconut water into a pre-heated pan.
  2. Stir it constantly for about 10 minutes.
  3. Cover the pan and let boil.  Leave for 20 – 25 minutes.
  4. Stir the coconut water again.  This time the water must have already changed color from clear to light brown.
  5. Wait until the water becomes caramelized (or black).  Let cool, and store it in a clean bottle or other container.

See also Coconut water

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