Mark Gersava and his team during a field work in Sulu. He says it takes courage and passion to reach the areas in Mindanao deemed dangerous.  ©

Mark Gersava

BamPeace (derived from the words bamboo and peace) is a social enterprise that aims to combat poverty and insurgency in Gawad Kalinga (GK) Parsugpatan Village, Patikul Sulu through bamboo products. 

Mr Mark Sultan Gersava, a food scientist by profession and social entrepreneur by passion, noted two major issues in Parsugpatan GK Village. First, there is a significant increase in the number of insurgency in the village. Because of poverty, more and more youths have been recruited by the bandits. Sulu province is named by the Philippine Human Development Report (PHDR) to have the lowest human development index in the country.

Second, there is an alarming level of plastic pollution in Sulu Sea. According to the environmental group Greenpeace, the Philippines is ranked as the third worst plastic polluter of oceans in the world. The marine debris is composed primarily of single-use plastics from products sold by conglomerates, such as bags, bottle labels and straws. The problem is expected to worsen as the country’s growing economy leads to rising income and increasing demands for consumer products. 

The thrust of BamPeace is geared towards combating these two major problems. The social enterprise aims to empower the Parsugpatan GK Village with the right tools and capabilities to have a sustainable source of income and veer away from banditry. By producing bamboo products such as mugs, chopsticks, stirrers, utensils and straws as substitutes for plastic products, BamPeace envisions to transform the Parsugpatan GK Village into a healthy, peaceful, environment-friendly and economically sustainable community.