>> Friday, March 27, 2009

Gina Dizon
Local products make gains

Mountain Province farmers produce hectares of rice and corn; tons of vegetables including potatoes, cabbage, green onions, bell pepper, squash; baskets of fruits especially citrus and bananas; sacks of legumes; loads of sugarcane and sacks of coffee beans.

Out of these agricultural produce, micro entrepreneurs make these into by- products including processed jams, jellies, butter, fruit and rice wines, lemon pies, pickles, noodles, patopat, linapet, roasted coffee and muscovado sugar.

Craftsmen also make creations such as pottery from clay, furniture from pine wood, woven products from weaving, hand made paper, and iron works. Other artistic creations include hand-painted T-shirts and video production.

For now, we talk about fruit, rice and sugarcane wines. The first Lang-ay festival in 2005 ushered the making of Lang-ay wines. Lang-ay wines are fruit wines initially produced by wine makers of Bauko led by Sister Shirley Agoo. About 60 women ventured in commercial wine making in Bauko and grouped themselves under Our Lady of Lourdes Cooperative.

Today, there are nearly a hundred wine makers in the province from Bauko, Sagada, Besao, Sabangan, Tadian, and Bontoc. The wine brewers are organized as Mountain Province Wine Processors Association (MPWA) and branded their product as “lang-ay fruit wine”. There are now a number of lang-ay wines of varied flavors and labels sol d with prices at 120 per bottle. Wine products reach as far as Baguio and Manila.

Different labels include Gabay, Antina, Besao Sunset, Seeka, Gulibangbang, Carolina Sorrel,Gaefer’s,Club 35+, Maureen, Da mascene, Victorianne, Keba-asan, among others. These wines are processed from plums, bignay, wild berries, roselle, duhat, guavas, rice, and citrus fruits.

Wine is slowly brewed for a period of at least one year from fermentation to aging. The wine when bottled should reach at least a minimum at 11% to 13% alcohol by volume and is classified as red table wine.

Most lang-ay wines are processed at home and compose a special home activity of the housewife. Although there is a pending need for a collective stainless tank to process lang-ay wines to bring standard alcohol content and ensure clean, clear, and safe products. Quality control appraisal of locally made wines is one major function of the Department of Industry to ensure alcohol content, safety, and clarity of wine products who trained some winemakers to do the appraisal.

The provincial government initially gave P100, 000 for bottling wines to the MPWA. The Department of Labor and Employment also gave support amounting to one million pesos for a stainless tank, jars, and sugar to the winemakers association. Now, the Department of Science and Technology is planning to build a science and technology center which includes wine processing among its features this coming year.

The traditional tapey of Sagada and Besao is also commercialized and packaged as rice wine like the Piitik of Sagada. Fvayash, the sugarcane wine from Sadanga is also sold commercially but of rare supply. Fvayash is called basi (sugarcane wine) in Guinaang and Mainit, Bontoc. Basi is also rarely sold as it is more locally used the whole year round in Guinaang and Mainit. (See separate articles on sugarcane wine making in separate articles)

Fruit wines are available in almost any souvenir shop in Sagada, Bontoc, and Bauko. Fruit wines are specially sold at the Pasalubong Centre at the second floor of the Multipurpose Building in Bontoc.

Culturally, wine is a vital component in agricultural and social ceremonies of people from the Mountain Province. Tapey is offered during ceremonies such as begnas (agricultural festival) in Sagada, Besao, Sabangan, and Bauko. Tapey is also a ceremonial wine drank in eastern Barlig and Natonin during weddings and other celebrations. Basi is a cultural wine in Bontoc especially in the sugarcane producing upland barangays of Mainit and Guinaang. It is drank during special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations.

There are now 65 registered small micro enterprises in wine making as of October 2007 from only two in 2000. The Department of Industry- Mountain Province lists that as of 2007, wine making created at least 450 jobs with 275 direct workers and 115 indirect jobs with work as fruit farmers, retailers, processors, laborers and label designers.

Total investments registered at P5.2 M generated P8.2 million from sales of lang-ay wine in 2007. The Department of Industry provides technology research, quality control appraisal and marketing of lang-ay wine through trade fairs. Trade fairs include the recent Mountain Province Trade Fair sponsored by DTI last December 16-20, 2008 at the capital town of Bontoc. The Provincial Local Government Unit also provides referrals and marketing of products at the Pasalubong center aside from assistance on packaging and provision of planting materials.

DTI sees the need for further improvement and enhancement of labels, packaging and packing. Certification from the Bureau of Food Administration (BFAD) is needed for these wines to gain further acceptance and popularity.


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