Turning litter into gold

EL SALVADOR CITY, Misamis Oriental— The wine, the women and the magic they did to duhat and cashew has drawn national attention to a rare product that the Philippines has been importing from several countries for years.

The women of Barangay Bolisong in this rustic community in the outskirts of the provincial capital of Cagayan de Oro City has turned Duhat (black plum) and cashew, which abounds in the area, into an energy-enhancing wine called Salvadore.

The wine and the women.  Beauty queens
from El Salvador proudly display the Salvadore
“Salvadore won the regional Kabuhayan Award and the national award during the Labor Day celebration in 2010,” said Judy Aclan, Product Senior Trade and Industry Development Specialist of the Department of Trade and Industry in the region.

“No Mindanao winemaker has penetrated the national market. The Bolisong women are almost there,” Aclan said.

The women, 22 housewives who were neighbors at Bolisong, were exasperated at the duhat and cashew that littered their community and decided to do something. With the help of the Social Welfare and Development and the Agricultural Training Institute they started brewing the fruits into wine.

The housewives formed a micro corporation called Bolisong Women Winemakers Inc (BWWM). From a backyard operation they started in 2006, they now have a million peso production facility.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, who visited their winery, has expressed admiration at the skill and determination of the women to succeed despite the diffficulties they faced and the stiff competion from imported wine.

Members of the Bolisong Women
Winemakers Inc.  hold samples
of their product. LANCE BACONGUIS
“In pursuing their dreams for a better life, they serve as inspiration to others,” Baldoz said.

Wine making is a complex operation that require careful choice of ingredients and ardous process of achieving a desired brew and quality control to comply with the strict food safety and sanitation standards imposed by the government.

When the women started the project, they were armed only with basic knowledge in wine making and they were unsure about their market and how to sell their product. “Who will buy our Salvadore?” they asked, and they were unsure about the answer.

They also lacked the necessary fund to start production and they have no institutional support until the trade industry department, social welfare and development, agrarian reform department, and the Xavier Univeristy Food Tech Center stepped in to keep them going.

Labor and trade industry departments provided them a grant of P110,000 for purchase of equipment, utensils, raw materials and packaging bottles to start regular production.

“We now make an average of P320,000 per year and we hold our ground against imported wines,” said BWWM President Nila Dominguez.

She said the Salvadore is now displayed in Pasalubong Centers across the region, in national fair and trade shows, sold in bars, restaurants and convenience stores and “our imagination run wild on the prospects for expansion.”

Salvadore goes through a natural fermentation porcess with no additives added to it and each bottle is prepared with utmost care in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices required by the government, Dominguez said.

She said Salvadore has been tested by the University of the Philippines Los Banos Biotech Laboratories and guaranted to contain 10-11 per cent alcohol with zero ethanol content.

Dominguez said duhat and cashew, which use to litter the ground, were now considered as a blessing to their community and they look at the fruits like they were gold.

“Many of our members in the BWWM were able to send their children to college, and some have graduated, and we ow it to duhat and cashew,” she said.

“Duhat and cashew were useless to us once, we didn’t know what to do with it.  Now, we thank God for showering us with them,” Dominguez said. 

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