Tubâ.

It’s a fermented coconut sap wine added with tungog or mangrove tree bark for color and flavor.

My grandfather is a mananguete, or a coconut wine tapper, so I have seen the process from collecting coconut sap, adding tungog, storing in glass jugs called gàlûn, decanting, and waiting for the events so the neighbors would buy his tuba.

My fascination with the local culture began when I was in high school, I was reporting in class about a short story called We Filipinos Are Mild Drinkers by Alejandro R. Roces, and during the research process I started to appreciate my grandfather’s work more.

Tuba is the usual wine drank on almost all occasions, milestones, or accomplishments in my hometown.

Is it your birthday?

Is there a wedding?

Just done working on something?

Then get the tuba jugs and containers out and let’s have a joyous celebration.

The tuba would usually be accompanied with roasted meat or fish, grilled entrails, stew with coconut milk, ceviche, ginamus or brined fish, and a large platter of rice.

Men would gather in a circle, one would pour the wine on a glass, one would play the guitar and sing, and others sing along in slurred drunken language.

Oftentimes they would boast just about anything for fun, or even tell about the feats of their grandfathers’ father.

Although women drinking together with men is uncommon, women can join men in small family gatherings or just drink in an all-women group.

Tuba is mildy sweet with a tannic aftertaste.

A more expensive variety is bahalina, fermented for several months or even years, and is decanted several times using a tube to remove sediments as compared to tuba.

It has a higher proof (20-26) as compared to tuba (4-8), with a bitter and tangy taste.

Nowadays, Coke and Pepsi are the usual chaser for tuba and bahalina, but I haven’t asked what it were before.

Also the number of mananguetes and the demand for tuba is plumetting, but I want to save tuba.

I’m planning to build a winery to create a tuba with an old-fashioned taste but can be stored longer.

This surely isn’t just a business, but a culture being saved from dying.

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