I still vividly remember, way back in my grade school years, that oddly colored liquid that my father, together with my other relatives, has been drinking. In every occasion, be it birthday, town fiesta or even just the usual "dinomingo", wherein relatives and friends huddle up for a celebration this native concoction is always the star of the show. It tasted bitterly sour and leaves a slimy texture in your palate. I always wonder why would they like drinking something so acrid and bitter?
Come teenage years, when my parents officially permitted me to drink (occasionally, of course), I get to taste of what is it like drinking the very famous coconut wine concoction locally called Tuba. Right there it dawned to me that drinking tuba is more than just drinking liquor from a glass, it is more like paying homage and tribute to the culture and the people you hail from. It is like traversing to your past and paying respect to the elders who handed down this tradition to our generation. By drinking Tuba you are somehow showing them your gratefulness.
Drinking tuba on a gathering or "harampang" is deeply embedded in the Waray culture. You can even hear it in their songs, read it in their prose or "siday" and taste it in their table. Maybe it has something to do with the abundance of coconut trees, the source of Tuba, in the region. So, it is easy for the natives to make tuba. So how do you make tuba?
First you have to cut the tip of an unopened coconut flower to release its sap. Then attach the bamboo container to the tree to catch the flowing sap and return the following morning with another container to collect the juice and clean the container attached to the tree. Then add the powdered mangrove bark to the sap then fermentation begins.
It is better to use glass gallon containers than plastic ones during the sediment and tuba separation process. Once the sediments have settled in the bottom, a hose can be used to transfer the tuba to another container. Moving the tuba container should be avoided to ensure that the sediments will stay; the sediments can then be thrown away afterwards. Another four to five days of the distillation process follow to ensure that almost all sediments are gone. The longer the distillation process, the higher and stronger the alcohol content it will have. The bahal is a 3 to 6 months old tuba which already has a very good taste, while a one year old tuba is called bahalina and it has a superior taste.
Now ferment your own tuba and take part in the propagation of our Waray heritage.
Now drink and cheers to tuba!
Dr. Wenihilda Magayones, University of the Philippines, Diliman