Here goes the start of our exciting ‘Livelihood Tour’! First drop was at this winery in Marasbaras, Tacloban, not far from Robinson’s Place actually – right side of the Maharlika Highway if you were going towards Palo.
But let me qualify this ‘Livelihood Tour’ for those who might be getting interested. This was not just a so-so field trip. It was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) just for my friend, her son and 2 of her trusted officers. How? She previously talked to DTI seeking help about learning those various livelihood opportunities – especially the many by-products of the coconut tree. All were pre-arranged by DTI with matching itinerary schedules per day (in a total of 3 days), descriptions of the products, a DTI officer and the persons to see! Whew! Am not sure what they call this activity since I did not look in those sheets of paper they had, so in my mind, I decided to call this a ‘Livelihood Tour’.
Anyway and so…
So what did I learn? Many things! Like? Well, here we go…
George Vacal Paraliza (an engineer, the owner) told us he is a native of some town in Leyte but went to school in Cebu. He’s a jolly dude and I loved talking to him in a mix of Bisdak, Waray, Tagalog and English hehe. KAG, kabalo gali mag-Ilonggo ah! Long biography cut short, he migrated to the US and worked at the oil mills in Texas as a career until retirement. That’s where he met Tila (his wife) – an American who looks just like many of your ‘tisay’ moms. The diff is that her hair color is real hehe. She has no Pinay blood but I can sense she has become very ‘one of us’ in manners and decorum. I mean we have seen and we still see a lot of Pinays who just got hold of a blue passport and/or had been to the land of milk and honey, and they come proudly squeaking their gonna gonna gotta gotta. But this woman, Mana Tila, very down to earth amiably Pinay. Walang hangin!
Oh Vino De Coco! Yes the Tuba hehe!
There are 3 variants (if I may call them that), Red, Dry and White Wine – all made from your lowly “lubi” of a miracle tree! How do they taste according to Me, Myself and I? I am no wine connoisseur but I do drink wine (when available or served at dinners), and I drink Tuba – especially during alumni homecomings where most of my ‘previously drunkard’ classmates would say ‘let’s go “organic” and Tuba is a healthy drink’!
Hey, talking to the owners and their staff, I enjoyed recalling some Waray words I have almost forgotten! “Sanggot” (verb) means to gather sap from the coconut tree. “Manangguite” – the one who does the “sanggot”. “Barok” – that material they use to color the sap red AND it is a ‘bark’ of a certain tree! “Lakub” – that bamboo node used to contain the sap as it drips from the tree. “Sumsuman” – pulutan in Tagalog, ah, how is that called in English? I forgot! More of those Tuba-related waray-waray terms in the next story.
Their White Wine? Fantastic! This is actually still the same Tuba just without the color red. Farmers are told not to put the “barok” when gathering coco sap. And this thing tastes just like many of the whites we buy from SM or anywhere else. You don’t risk staining your white shirt with this one hehe, that is if you are like me, a very clumsy tuba drinker! Oh, I even brokered an idea to Mana Tila that they try making a variant on the ‘sparkling’ side. Y’know, just like champagne, for indeed their white wines taste like so, just lacking the sizzle. She said ‘that would be interestingly possible’. So, let’s wait and there might come a time the bottles we’d be popping during weddings or anniversaries would be Vino De Coco!
Anytime? Yes, but not really! There are quality standards that farmers have to observe so Vino De Coco will buy their Tuba. Like? Like it should be real fresh as in gathered “just this morning”! Am not joking, that’s how stringent the rule is. And, in fact the buying closes at exactly noontime. How does the company know or discern the freshness of the Tuba they’re buying? They have various technical scientific implements to do that AND there is always a “taster” on duty. Not just some dude but a real true blue “manginginom” and “ex-manangguite” hehehe! I joked with this manong that he must be drunk every noontime when the buying ends. He just nodded grinning but explained that sometimes, from experience, he can discern freshness just by looking at the liquid and/or smelling it.
Do they reject deliveries? Many, I was told. That is where DTI also helped – to educate farmers on the proper way of gathering and processing Tuba to ensure they deliver good quality and condition. I asked what farmers do if their deliveries are rejected. Well well well, I learned that if the rejected Tuba can’t be sold to other establishments (with less stringent quality control obviously), farmers make them into “suka” (vinegar)! Thus, they better make quality Tuba or they end up being competitor of Datu Puti hehe! Where are these farmers/suppliers from? The barrios and towns near Tacloban. Mano George told me they even now have farmers from Samar (across the San Juanico Bridge) that can deliver to their facility on time too.
And then what?
Ah so much for the process lest this story become a book hehe!
Let’s drink to that!
And you’ll hear more of Tuba in my next story. A different but similar enterprise, just the same lucrative while helping the farmers!
For a chronology of stories on this trip, please click the following: