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No more liquor ban in Davao, here’s a toast to bahalina!

Unlike the famous tuba (coconut wine) that can be consumed right after it is collected, bahalina undergoes a fermentation process that takes at least three months.

DAVAO CITY – If there’s one good thing about the prolonged liquor ban, it has helped with the aging of locally produced coconut wine known as bahalina, a local wine maker said.

Unlike the famous tuba (coconut wine) that can be consumed right after it is collected, bahalina undergoes a fermentation process that takes at least three months.

Similar to wines from grapes, bahalina tastes better with age. Hedo Arcay, an artisan bahalina maker in Barangay San Juan in Agdao district here told Manila Bulletin that the six-month liquor ban has further aged his bahalina stash.

TO THE LAST DROP Hedo Arcay straining his bahalin through a cloth filter. (Photo by Keith Bacongco)

Before the liquor ban last March, Arcay said that some of his bahalina stash was still three months old while some were already in the sixth month to 10th month of the fermentation process.

“Now that the liquor ban is lifted, many of these are already over a year old and they taste better already. Because the older it is, the better,” said the 70-year old bahalina maker, who originally hails from Bohol.

In April, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio imposed a 24/7 liquor ban as part of the measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.

But Carpio reminded the public that the lifting of liquor ban is in consideration of the business establishments. “Excuse me, my fellow Dabawenyos. We are not going to lift the liquor ban for your own sake. We will lift the liquor ban for the businesses and for the people who are employed in the liquor businesses, not for your own happiness,” the mayor pointed out over her radio program.

Arcay admitted that it was quite tough for him during lockdown since selling bahalina is his main source of living. “But we have to comply with the government’s policy,” he said.

As a result of the liquor ban, there are now about a thousand glass gallons of bahalina stocked in his underground storage.

Similar to wines from grapes, bahalina tastes better with age.

Arcay explained that it is important to keep the containers away from direct sunlight. Each bottle is covered with sealed plastic cellophane cutouts and tightly sealed with rubber bands. “It should be airtight and away from sunlight because otherwise, it will become vinegar,” he said.

Arcay has been producing bahalina since he was still employed as a sales agent of a giant beverage company. He left the company in 1983.

Since then, he has focused on his bahalina-making business to support his family.

He learned this craft from his hometown in Alicia town, Bohol. For almost four decades, the basement of his two-story house serves as his wine laboratory, where hundreds of glass containers are neatly stacked on top of each other.

He sells the bahalina for P110 per gallon. Bahalina is also made of tuba collected from coconut sap. But it undergoes a natural fermentation process using a certain amount of balok.

Balok is a dried bark gathered from a red mangrove tree. In some Visayas areas, it is known in the local dialect as tungog.

Every day, the bahalina undergoes a cloth filtration process to remove the residues, as it is transferred to a new container, Arcay said.  

A three-month-old bahalina still resembles a tuba wine. But the color changes and becomes darker as it gets older.

“From eight months to three years old and even more, it is already really quite strong but it is smooth like a red wine,” the 70-year old Arcay said. 

INTO THE CELLARS Gallons of finely aged bahalina inside Arcay’s basement in Barangay San Juan, Davao City. (Keith Bacongco)

The lifting of the 24-hour liquor ban on Sept. 21brought excitement to bahalina lovers as they could finally taste the aged bahalina after six months.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/09/24/no-more-liquor-ban-in-davao-heres-a-toast-to-bahalina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=no-more-liquor-ban-in-davao-heres-a-toast-to-bahalina)

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