“I’m a teacher” says 60-year old UP Professor Benjamin Mangubat, creator of the Bangkarwayan. “I’m not an engineer nor a scientist, I did this because I wanted to create something.” Frustrated with the traditional schooling system, Prof. Benjamin decided to embark on a personal creative journey. He was always in the mindset that schools and the way they are built do not really promote creativity. He thought, instead of teaching Rizal in the traditional historical way, for example, why not challenge students to be more like him and create things?
Prof. Benjamin believes that you don’t need to be an expert of something to create. All you need is to find the right people and through collaboration, something will come out of it. His team consists of a 77-year-old carpenter, his 45-year-old aircon mechanic neighbor, and a TESDA accredited electrician. They came together in a span of 6 years – trying, failing, and discovering together until one day, an online buy-and-sell transaction would give him the final piece of his baby: a small windmill to be attached to the back of his bamboo sports car. Prof. Benjamin and his team have gone through painful and expensive mistakes, financial struggle, and at one point even gave up entirely.
The Bangkarwayan is a pastiche of solar panels, bamboo pieces, a small windmill and a convertible top boot cover made out of banig. It runs primarily on electrical energy and, when being driven around, can charge its own batteries through the contraptions attached to the car. The car is also flood-proof and will float if flood waters ever reach waist level.
Last March 28, for Earth Hour (“Change Climate Change”), the Aristocrat Restaurant (Roxas Boulevard) invited Prof. Benjamin to showcase his invention to the graduates celebrating at the restaurant. Students marvelled at the quirky vehicle parked by the premises, complete with a mini UP Oblation statue as its hood ornament.
His parting message to the onlookers emphasized that the solutions to our problems are all within arm’s reach.Who knew that we could get around this city using something we’ve built ourselves? Prof.Benjamin quoted Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And it is his imagination that gets him to work everyday as he travels in his humble Bangkarwayan along the streets of Manila.