tuba – (tu-bâ; Cebuano, Boholano, Leyteño, Waray, Ilongo, Bicolano, Quezonian, and Tagalog [Lagueño] native wine) [n.] coconut red wine (Visayan & Mindanawanon); coconut wine (Quezonian & Lagueño) \palm toddy.
In Quezon and Laguna provinces, tuba is turbid or milky white in color as it is served pure by the tuba gatherer, but must be consumed immediately in one or two days from harvest; beyond that, the tuba sours to become vinegar.
This same kind of harvested palm toddy is made red or maroon in color in Visayas and Mindanao due to the mixture of pounded or ground bark of tungog (a.k.a. barok) to allow the coconut wine to ferment and help prevent tu ba from becoming sour.
The making of tuba starts when the tuba gatherer called “mananguete” climbs a coconut tree in the early morning. While on top the coconut tree, he would sit on the base of palm’s frond and looks for a newly sprouting bud of bunch of coconut flower that is still completely encased in its takong (green pod). The bud of coconut fruit (inflorescence) is lopped off by slicing its very tip using a razor-sharp sanggot (scythe) to cause the sap to ooze out from the bud. The st alk of the wounded bud is then pushed down to force it to bend and to position its tip to point downward making it easy to collect the dripping juice as it drips.
A container called pasok (small and short bamboo tube wi th a diameter enough to fit the size of the bud, also called sugong in the western part of Leyte) is then attached by inserting the wounded tip of the bud into the mouth of pasok and sealed by wrapping around a sheat of ginit (coconut sheat) and tying it securely with lapnis (strips from coconut frond’s bark or strip of rattan). This is done to prevent the rainwater from contaminating with the collected sap if the rain comes. With the availability of plastic cellophane and synthetic straw string, ginit and lapnis are sometimes no longer used as wrapper and binder.
Pasok is then left hanging on the tip of the bud for the whole day to collect the slowly dripping sap. The mananguete would climb down and proceed to another coconut tree to do the same routine.
|The manangguete (tuba gatherer) lops off the bud of coconut fruit (inflorescence) using a razor-sharp sanggot (scythe). Refreshing the wound will assure continuous oozing of sap from the bud|
By afternoon, the mananguete would climb back to gather the juice collected in the pasok and pour it into the hungot or kawit (big bamboo pole container) brought along by the mananguete which he hung behind his shoulder (a wooden hook that fits the shoulder is attached on it, making it easy to carry up and down in the tree). The emptied pasok is then cleaned using a pitlagong (bamboo plunger, also called patok or patek in Ilonggo) that would scrape off the sediments left behind and the assorted kinds of insects that came into it. The waste is thrown out by tapping the pitlagong on the frond of coconut palm.
A bud of coconut fruit (inflorescence) still encased in green takong (coconut pod)
Then the tip of the bud is sliced off again t o freshen the wound so that the coconut juice would continue to ooze out and drip. This is necessary because an old wound retards the oozing out of sap from the bud. The pasok is placed back on the tip of the bud before the mananguete would climb down.
At the ground, the collected tuba is stored in glass or plastic gallon; and if plenty, it is stored in damahuwana or damahan (demijohn) that is now commonly replaced by 5-gallon plastic container shaped like a jerry can.
|The freshly gathered tuba is transferred from the sugong (bamboo tube) into the damahan (5-gallon container) in Sitio Tabuk, Brgy. Tao-taon, Inopacan, Leyte|
|Swigging a glass of fresh pure sap of tuba (uncolored because it has no tungog in it) but chilled in cracked ice.|
|Ice-chilled bag-ong dawat (freshly gathered tuba) offered to us by our mother in one of our vacations in Inopacan, Leyte|
Everyday thereafter, the mananguete routinely tend to the same coconut bud until about half of its length is totally sliced off and the bud’s takong (pod) would start to burst open and the butay (tentacle-like stalks) inside are no longer tender. When freshly gathered from the coconut tree, tuba is milky-white in color, tastes sweet, and effervescent (continuously producing tiny bubbles creating a cream-colored froth). This freshly gathered tuba, with no tungog in it, is said to be good for nursing mothers (as last resort).
The unblended tuba will last only for one day as it immediately turns sour on the next day that eventually becomes sukang tuba on several days more. If the freshly gathered tuba is mixed with tungog (a.k.a. barok), it tastes bitter-sweet and turns reddish-orange in color. If tungog is added the earliest possible time, as if the juice is still in the pitlagong or sugong, the coconut sap is prevented from immediately becoming sour, instead the tungog-blended juice would fer ment and would be aged over time to become bahal or bahalina. A tuba that is freshly fermented with tungog and still effervescent is called bag-ong dawat (a day-old or freshly gathered tuba)
|The typical sanggotan (coconut tree cultivated to produce tuba). This one was along the Highway in Brgy. Maljo, Inopacan, Leyte.|
After about 12 hours of fermentation, the effervescence stops and the coconut wine becomes bahal (or lina in some other places), meaning the wine is a full pledge tuba. For the first 2 weeks, tuba is filtered by siphoning to decant it out from its storage, leaving behind the lawog (sediments) that settles at the bottom of the container.
After a month of fermentation , tuba is called bahalina (aged coconut red wine) that is darker in color and tastes and smells like a fruit red wine. The longer it is aged the better it becomes. Tuba must be stored under shade, better if not totally exposed to any form of light, that is why some tuba maker bury their jars of tuba in the ground or hide them inside the house and covered the jars with black cloth to avoid the souring bacteria to subsist that is responsible of t he souring of tuba. The container must also be filled up to its brim, devoid of any air inside, and tightly sealed the opening to prevent the airborne souring bacteria from contaminating the coconut wine. A contaminated tuba will tastes sour and becomes vinegar called sukang tuba (coconut vinegar).
The uncolored tuba is commonly produced in some provinces in Luzon that include Quezon, Laguna and Bulacan where tungog is usually not readily available to their local tuba gatherers, It is literally sweetish in taste that in Luzon, these recent years, this sweet freshly gathered tuba is processed to become an expensive organic coconut sugar.
|A tagay of tuba in Libungan, North Cotabato with a bowl of soupy pulutan (food served in drinking session)|
|Medya galon (half gallon) of tuba and garapon (bottle jars) filled with tuba are for sale in the public market of Talisay City in Negros Occidental|
Tuba from Leyte, like this one from Inopacan, Leyte is deep maroon in color and would taste far bitter than those from other places in Visayas and Mindanao because more tungog is used in it. Similar type of tuba is also produced in Northern part of Leyte that include the municipalities of Abuyog, Burauen, Barugo and Palo. It uses a dark colored variety of tungog. In the picture is the bag-ong dawat (day-old tuba). Notice the ring of creamy froth on tuba inside the gallon as the fermentation has just begun. The picture below is when the fermentation bubbles goes wild.
|The fermentation bubbles of a day-old tuba goes wild, creating an illusion as if boiling cold endlessly. This is the reaction when coconut toddy is mixed with tungog (mangrove tanbark)|
In Leyte, there are those who are well versed in tagging the quality of tuba by telling its smell, transparency in color and by knocking the glass container (usually a gallon or demijohn) filled with tuba. The sounding of "tonk! tonk! tonk" and "tink! tink! tink!" of bahal (old tuba) and bahalina (aged tuba) is enough to gauge how old the wine is. Telling the age is important; the older, the better.
In Visayas and Mindanao, there are at least three common ways of serving tuba: one is sinagolan, another is may chaser and the manly puro.
- sinagolan - tuba is blended with lots of cola (Coke, Pepsi, RC Cola, Pop Cola, etc.) making the wine very sweet and fruity to your palate and throat. Usually served when tuba has that kisom (sourish) taste so as to mask the taste. This is also served when drinkers are not brave enough to savor the strong taste of good (not sourish) tuba.
- may chaser (a.k.a. tsineseran) - literally said, tuba served with a chaser of cola or any sweet drink, such as juice, chocolate drink, sweetened coffee, etc.. the chaser is immediately served after swigging tuba. You dare to savor first the true taste of tuba then iron out your squirming face with a chaser.
- puro - from the Spanish word puro (meaning "pure"). One has to swig a tagay of pure tuba without sipping any chaser afterward. This will surely give you the truest meaning of saying "Ahhh!" to a drink.
"Tagay" is that serving of tuba poured in the glass