Ever heard of this artisanal method of producing salt?
Salt is an important commodity and has been produced since prehistoric times.
In the Philippines, early Spanish chronicles document salt production as a precolonial industry. A remnant of this still endures at present. The town of Alburquerque has been known for its artisanal and unique salt-making tradition known as Asin Tibuok.
With its more vibrant flavor compared to ordinary table salt, it could turn ordinary dishes into culinary delights.
The process of producing involves innovation and tireless effort from different generations. Saltmakers gather dried coconut husks, locally called bunot. These are then drenched in the salt-pond or paril, near the coast for around six months.
After the soaking period, the husks are then sun-dried and hewn into smaller pieces. Once done, these will undergo a firing process, daub, transforming these into ashes, gasang.
A cone-shaped funnel called sagsag, is prepared to be used to filter out the ashes once firing is completed. Filtering is done thrice in different funnels to achieve a highly-concentrated brine solution.
The ashes are then poured with seawater inside the filter with a cork-like container called pasong, positioned at the bottom.
Now, the solution is ready to be cooked at the open pit fire called lagaan, with the small clay pots or kun all lined up. These clay pots are usually made by female potters using the paddle and anvil technique, without the aid of a potter’s wheel.
The pots will first be heated before the brine will be poured onto the pots gradually. Continuous heating and boiling are done for the liquid to evaporate, leaving the hardened salt inside the pot.
When the bottom of the clay pot cracks, that means the salt is already cooked. This tedious and traditional process usually lasts for an entire day.
The Asin Tibuok of Alburquerque is indeed an intangible cultural heritage of Bohol. However, it is now threatened to be diminished unless given proper attention by its community and the government for its preservation, conservation, and protection.