Filipino communities turn trash into cash

Days after the New Year’s Eve revelry dies down, expect colorful lanterns or wreaths to remain hanging on the windows of many Filipino homes—part of a tradition in this Southeast Asian country known to have the longest Yuletide celebration in the world.

In Barangay (village) Lower Bicutan, in Taguig City, 15 kilometers east of Manila, the ubiquitous holiday decorations are a testament to a never-say-die spirit and ingenuity. They are mostly fashioned out of water lilies that clog the town’s drainage system instead of the conventional bamboo sticks, Japanese and crepe paper that have come to be associated with the iconic symbol of the Filipino Christmas.

Taguig City outlines Laguna de Bay, one of the biggest freshwater lakes in Asia and the Philippines’ largest inland body of water. Water lilies are known to thrive in such bodies of water, growing to a height of 40 inches and multiplying fast. Thus, they can easily displace local aquatic plants and adversely affect water quality and flow.

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