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The Unfortunate Truth About Cebu’s Tuba Industry


A Look into the Argao Tuba Industry

The coconut wine of Cebu (known as tuba) has been in the lives of many generations of Cebuanos. In Argao, the tuba industry is as important as the other delicacy the town is known for, the sweet torta. The coconut wine also happens to be a key ingredient in the making of the dessert.

The people of Argao have established themselves as skilled tuba manufacturers, owing to many years of knowledge, experience, and personal passion. Let’s take a closer look at this world and find out why it’s so worth visiting.

cebu coconut vinegar

A Dying Industry  

The core people in the tuba-making industry are called mananguetes. They are the coconut wine tappers who have years of experience handling the alcoholic beverage. Unfortunately, due to lack of opportunities, more and more of them are losing interest.

The market is flooded with a lot of alcoholic options that the native offerings are fading in the background. As a result, there is lesser demand for tuba and many other Filipino drinks. With lesser demand comes lesser income for the mananguetes.

You can just imagine how this affects the mananguetes, who have spent their lifetimes honing their craft, only to find that not many would support their products. They also develop a low self-esteem due to the lack of higher income, having to support their families with what little they can have.

More importantly, the future is not looking so well for the tuba in Argao. In the next generation of young men, the number of those interested in how to be a mananguete is growing less and less.  There are more opportunities outside the industry calling them to farther places.

The process of making the coconut wine requires a lot of patience and skill. The mananguetes go up to dangerous heights to climb the coconut trees. Collecting the liquid is also a complicated process and creating the beverage can take at least two months.

Cebu bahal

How you can help revive the industry

The mananguetes now rely on tourism to help sustain their livelihood. Visits to the site and first-hand lessons on how the wine is made help spread the word about tuba. It’s a world of its own that reflects an important part of local history.

Coconuts have been on the islands for many years and people have thought up many innovative ways on how to use the materials of the tree. Coconut wine is one significant invention, showcasing Filipino creativity.

As a traveler, one way you can contribute to the industry is by supporting local tuba and tuba vinegar. These are two distinctly Filipino products that are made with ingenuity and tradition.

Another enjoyable way to give your support is by joining the Gastronomic Tours, organized by Happy Juanderer, which includes an immersive experience into the three important cuisines of Argao: tuba, torta, and tablea.

Supporting local products and industries is a good way of making a positive impact on a community. This is especially essential in such cases as the mananguetes of Argao. If traveling meaningfully is something you’d like to incorporate, then you should definitely check out this adventure.