THAT WINE SOUNDS FAMILIAR. Coconut Wine or Tuba is called the Poor Man’s Drink. Why? Because the distillation process is cheap and farmers enjoy it at the end of the day (after a physically exhausting day that is). In Luzon, this local wine is called Lambanog. It is produced without a colorant and this milky white liquid is instantly consumed as it can sour quickly and becomes a vinegar. Usually, the fermentation can be as fast as 3-4 days.
In Visayas, particularly in Leyte, “Tuba” is mixed with a reddish bark of a Mangrove Tree known locally as “barok” which turns the Tuba into Red.
Here’s the process of gathering/preparing the tuba:
Before climbing a Coconut tree, a Tuba-gatherer, also known as Mananguete prepares two (2) containers: one as a receptacle for collecting sap and the other container (usually bigger than the first) for transferring the collected sap to be brought on the ground.
The barok is chopped into pieces and put inside the container that the “mananguete” will bring up on the tree. The mananguete will now climb the coconut tree carrying the container (with the “barok” inside it) and machete (also known as “sanggot”) attached to his waist.
He looks for an unopened flower and cuts its tip to release the sap. The container will be attached securely while collecting the sap so it won’t fall down.
The next morning, the mananguete will climb the tree bringing a bigger container to transfer the collected sap. It is estimated that one coconut tree will produce a minimum of one litre of sap.
In the afternoon, the mananguete will climb the tree again to repeat the process until a large amount of tuba has been collected for selling and/or drinking.
The abundance of coconuts in the country has provided livelihood to a number of population and it has become an integral part in the survival and culture of the people in the Eastern Northern Mindanao region.