Cebu’s Tuba

Tuba or coconut wine, has been in the lives of many Filipinos, and that includes Cebuanos, for a long-time now. Today, we have indulged ourselves in the internationally acclaimed liquors like gins, vodkas, rhums and the popular beer. This, however, depends if one can stomach such liquid into going all-out overnight but hey, like the most people say, “drink moderately”. Nah… I, myself, was able to get through a night but if ever I get to drink the tuba, which would certainly give a new flavor to my next-day hangover. But it’s the local flavor that counts and it certainly gives an old-school taste in today’s modern Cebu.

For years, international drinks have dominated the shelves in restaurants and shopping malls. But, the Philippines also have a lot to boast when it comes to liquors. For example would be the Jampang, Argao version of their exotic alcohol beverages, the coconut wine, of course, or tuba.

People in Jampang have established themselves as tubá manufacturers for years of acquired skill and the extracting of this alcoholic beverage. The classic or old-school version that is practically tubá, inspired Argao’s annual celebration, the Pitlagong Festival.

Pitlagong, by the way, is a bamboo stick used for scouring of coagulates from the bamboo tube which the tuba is prepared to flower from the flower stalks of the coconut. It became the symbol for the municipality’s indigenous festival.

Tubá process

The extraction of tuba can be categorized to that as a complicated process. The collector has to have the utmost and natural immunity to dangerous heights since they have to climb tall coconut trees. Patience is indeed a virtue when it comes to tuba collecting since he has to do this about twice a day to simply cut the stalk as many times as he can to prevent the tree to “heal” and impeded the release of the coconut liquid.

The collector then collects the sweet coconut juice that is quick to ferment but it gives a taste of alcohol the next day already. This will continue to develop its flavor for days until it reaches the maximum level after about a week. This will depend on the weather as well as the environmental temperature. Later, bacteria will take over then the tuba will turn into a sour liquid, the vinegar. The tuba, however, is said to be at its best after only 1-3 days of harvest. The collector will then season it with hot peppers and is preserved for at least 2 months right before he serves it to his friends or sold it to the market.

Now that’s some method. It sounds not that complicated but believe me, people who have been in the mountainous areas for years know the taste by instinct and I have already encountered one, my grandfather, who lives in Aras-Asan, Cagwait, Tandag, Surigao del Sur in his entire life. He was the one who made me taste my first ever tuba, and that sure left me an alcoholic memory. May he rest in peace.

Source: A taste of southern Cebu’s coconut wine

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