DRINKS IN THE PHILIPPINES

ALCOHOLIC DRINKS AND BEER IN THE PHILIPPINES

The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold. Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine, sometimes very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit. Imported beer, wine and whiskey are available but expensive.

The most popular brand of beer is San Miguel (cheap and sometimes called San Mig by locals). San Miguel is a light Pilsner-style made with 80 percent malt and is lagered for a month. The San Miguel brewery also makes Cerveza nega, a black beer with a 5.2 percent alcohol content and a roasted, malty taste, and Red Horse, a bock-style, pale-gold lager with a 6.8 percent alcohol content and a full bodied flavor.

San Miguel is one of the top three selling brands of beer in Asia and is sold at over 250,000 outlets throughout Asia. San Miguel was the first brewer in Southeast Asia. It was founded in 1890 as a small brewery, called La Fabrica Cerveza de San Miguel, and was located next to the seat of the Spanish governor general in Manila. San Miguel one person said is his favorite Filipino saint.

According to 3stars-sun.blogspot.jp: “Beer is the most preferred Alcoholic drink in the Philippines. (Gin is a very close 2nd) The most famous and widely known brand is San Miguel Pale Pilsen. San Mig Light, is also popular, mostly preferred by the Yuppies and the younger drinkers. Beer na Beer is a close competitor for San Miguel. Gold Eagle Beer is more common to the Rural Areas of the Philippines. Colt 45 and Red Horse beer is favored by hard drinkers. The local slang for Beer is “Kalawang” which is the Tagalog word for “Rust” since beer seem to take the color of rust. Other beer labels include Lone Star, Lone Star Light, Lone Star Ultra, Carlsberg, , San Miguel Superdry, San Mig Strong Ice, and just recently, Coors Light. [Source:3stars-sun.blogspot.jp]

Gin and Other Hard Alcohol Drinks in the Philippines

According to 3stars-sun.blogspot.jp: If beer is “Kalawang” or rust, then Gin is called “Stainless”. The Ginebra San Miguel brand is the most well known brand. It’s the most selling gin brand in the world, although it is mainly sold in the Philippines. The Ginebra San Miguel brand even earned some monikers for their Gin products. The small round bottle is called “Bilog” (round) for its shape, and the bigger square shaped bottle is called “Kwadro Kantos” (Four Corners). GSM Blue is a variant of Ginebra San Miguel gin which is said to be smoother in taste. Gin Kapitan and London Gin brands are also sold in the market, but nowhere near the sales of Ginebra San Miguel. Gin has also come to be known as “Gin-Bulag” (Bulag is Tagalog for “blind”) since it is said that drinking too much Gin would make you go blind. [Source: 3stars-sun.blogspot.jp \^/]

Rum and Brandy: Tanduay is the most popular brand of Rum. As with the Gin, the Tanduay bottles have also earned monikers of their own. The smaller bottle is called “Lapad” (wide) because of their distinctive wide-bodied bottles. The tall round bottles are often called “Tore” (Tower). Emperador is a close second to the Tanduay brand. The Tondenia Premium Rum and Anejo 65 Rum brands are also sold but is not as commonly known as Tanduay nor Emperador. Barcelona, Genoroso, and Gran Matador are the popular brands of brandy. \^/

Other liquors are also sold here in the Philippines, but Gin, Beer, Rum, and Brandy are the most popular drinks. Cossack Vodka and Antonov Vodka are a local Vodka brands. Don Enrique Mixkila is supposedly a combination of Tequila and distilled spirits. Erg is as brand of Alcotonic, which only has 5.5 proof alcohol content. Q-Shandy and Cali are brands of NABs (Non-Alcoholic Beer). Vino Kulafu and Siok Tong are brands of some sort of Chinese wine and is popular among the older drinkers (55 years old and up) specially in the Rural areas. \^/

Original Filipino Alcoholic Concoctions

According to 3stars-sun.blogspot.jp: Gin Pomelo is a cocktail made out of Gin, Pomelo Juice Powder, and crushed ice. It became the drink of choice for the younger drinkers back in the late 1990’s when Tang introduced its “Litro Pack” line of powdered Juices.[Source: 3stars-sun.blogspot.jp \^/]

Expired: This simple concoction is made up of two 500ml bottles of Red Horse beer mixed with one small bottle of gin. It is then poured into a large pitcher and a big chunk of ice is added into it. Some put two “Storck” brand menthol candies into the mix. It was called expired since drinkers say it tastes like “expired beer”. \^/

Kagatan is the Tagalog word for “Biting”. But biting has nothing to do with this cocktail. It was called “Kagatan” because the ingredients for this drink are KApe (kape, coffee), GAtas (gatas, milk) and TANduay (the Tanduay brand of Rum). \^/

Boracay: So called because this drink was apparently invented in the Island of Boracay. It is the said to be the Filipino version of Bailey’s Irish Cream. It is made up of Rum, beer, chocolate malt powder, evaporated milk, gin, and finely ground peanuts. \^/

Calibog: This drink has made quite a stir from its name alone since “Libog” mean “Libido” in Tagalog. Rumor has it that this drink acts like an aphrodisiac, hence the name. But the truth is that it got the name from its ingredients: CALI for the Cali brand of non alcoholic beer, B for Beer, and OG comes from lambanog. \^/

Drinking Customs in the Philippines

The drinking age is 21. People who drink too much are regarded as greedy. Women often don't drink. What to do if you don't drink alcohol? This is usually not a problem, since not everyone does, and fruit juices and soft drinks are very popular.

According to etiquettescholar.com: “Because you must never pour your own drink (be it beer or tea), you must always be alert throughout the meal as to whether your neighbor's cup or glass needs refilling. If it is less than half full, it needs refilling; alternately, if yours is less than half full, your neighbor is obliged to refill it. If he or she does not, do not refill it yourself, for this will cause them to lose face: instead, diplomatically indicate your need by pouring a little more drink into your neighbor's glass, even if it doesn't really need it.” [Source: Mike Lininger etiquettescholar.com <*>]

If you are a guest at a gathering of people you may expected to make a toast, usually soon after the host does or at the end of the meal, just before everyone departs. An appropriate toast is to the health of the host and all those present, and to the prosperity of the business under discussion. <*>

Tuba

Tuba, a palm wine, is the local alcoholic drink of the barrios. Slashes are made in palm trees and the sap that drips out of them is collected in bamboo tubes. The sap is fermented and the result is a sweet liquor with a strong jolt. Tuba is also made from fermented coconut sap.

Wayblima.com reports: Perhaps you've heard of tuba. Cebuanos will often mention this native alcoholic drink when in conversations with foreigners. Chances are, though, that you've never seen it, because it's not sold in any stores or served in any restaurants or eateries. [Source: wayblima.com /*/ ]

“That's a great pity, because tuba is the drink of the gods. Long before Western multinational corporations invented alcopop, the Visayans were blessed with tuba. Contrary to what one expects from the description - that tuba is a homemade alcoholic beverage found in rural villages - it ain't no moonshine. While in the West, I frequently - a bit too frequently, I must admit - savored the delights of the best champagne, and I can state without reservations that good tuba is more than equal to the most expensive Dom Perignon. Now, snooty sommeliers may sneer at this suggestion, but just because tuba comes straight from the coconut tree does not mean that it is inherently inferior to something that comes out of a French bottle. /*/

“In fact, what tuba does is make one realize how ingenious these Europeans are. Confined by malicious gods to a cold and infertile terrain, and consequently deprived of that wondrous nectar which flows freely from the coconut tree, the Europeans had no recourse but to ferment grape juice in oak barrels until, after many years and extensive labor, it - incredibly - delivered a degree of the wealth of flavor found in tuba. But only a degree, and only in a good year. /*/

“So what does tuba actually taste like? It is sweeeeeeeeet! And naturally carbonated. At first, it is barely alcoholic but this changes over time as the sugar is broken down into alcohol. The thing about tuba is, it has a limited shelf life, even when refridgerated (and refridgerate it you should, for it's best downed ice cold). It stays fresh and delectable for perhaps 24 hours; after that, it gradually turns into vinegar. For about a fortnight it is a substance known as bahal; sour and strongly alcoholic, favored by drunkards. After three weeks, the conversion to suka bisaya (native vinegar) is complete.” /*/

Tuba Manananggut

According to wayblima.com: “Tuba is as cheap as it is sweet. Just 20 pesos will get you a galon. But since it's not sold in stores or restaurants, how do you get ahold of it? You have to go on a quest fit for a National Geographic program, and find yourself a manananggut, i.e. someone who specializes in the art of climbing up coconut trees and making tuba and suka bisaya. [Source: wayblima.com /*/]

Here's what the manananggut does. He climbs up the coconut tree, and uses twine to bend a premature fruit stalk, called a daol, until it faces downward. This has to be done gradually; otherwise, the stalk will snap. Next, a special curved knife known as a sanggut - the term manananggut means "he who uses a sanggut" - is used to etch the daol. A bamboo container called a sugong is left attached overnight, to catch the sap draining from the daol. The sugong is carefully wrapped and covered with leaves to keep out the rain. /*/

“The next morning the gods will have rewarded the manananggut with a jar-full of fresh tuba. The container is emptied, the stalk is shortened, and the process is repeated. Now, the sap is initially tuba, but it becomes vinegar over the course of a few days. Sometimes a mysterious substance called tungog is used to color the liquid red. Since tuba doesn't come in a bottle with a label attached, I have no reliable data regarding the alcohol content, but I would guess it's about the same as, or perhaps slightly stronger than, beer. /*/

“After accompanying the manananggut we relaxed over a quart of freshly gathered tuba while discussing his work. The manananggut's name is Melsie, and he is a carpenter by day. He's almost fifty and has six children, which is about average. The haul that day had not been plentiful, with three trees yielding only about a liter. One reason was the weather; it hadn't rained in about a week. /*/

Climbing up four-storey-high palm trees without a harness is dangerous work. I personally was surprised to discover that fear is a factor for me when I climbed up the tree to take pictures of Melsie at work - once you realize that you are very high up and that your immunity from gravity is only as good as your grip on the tree, you tend to climb down in a hurry, which I did. I asked Melsie if he knew anyone who had fallen off a palm tree recently. It turns out that, yes indeed, a few years back somebody did. "Was he a manananggut?" Yes, of course. "Did he survive?" Melsie laughs. One doesn't survive a fall from a 20-meter high palm tree. /*/

As Melsie sheathed his sanggut which I had been admiring, I wondered whether it is a coincidence that Melsie is one of the very few religious men in this rural village, and whether he would be undertaking the hour-long trek to the church in the city every Sunday if it were not for his line of work. Suddenly, every drop of tuba seemed more precious to me. /*/

Tuba Palm Rats

According to wayblima.com: “The main problem was with rats. In Bisaya, the word for "mouse" and "rat" is the same. "Little ones or big ones?" I asked. "Rats as big cats," Melsie assured me. [Source: wayblima.com /*/]

“The rats climb up the palm tree, gnaw a hole through the cover of the bamboo container, and lick the tuba. Apparently, rats can hold their liquor well, for they don't get drunk on tuba - at least not drunk enough to fall off the tree. Some palm trees have metal casings about a foot wide around their stems, to prevent the rats from climbing up. Melsie told me that it was pointless to attach these, as the rats can dig a furrow underneath the metal sheaths. Additionally, dead serious, he told me "they'll put a curse on you." /*/

I squinted with incredulity. Melsie explained that not only will the rats damage a coconut tree out of spite, they will literally put a curse on he who deprives them of their tuba. Melsie told me how his father, who also had been a manananggut, would attribute problems in the house - whether health-related or economic - to a curse of the rats. While wild bees also drink the tuba - sometimes drowning in it - the number one enemy of the manananggut is, by far, the rat. Melsie's solution is to not attach any metal sheath, and to let the rats have their share - rather like a tax.” /*/

Manila's Hobbit House Bar

John M. Glionna wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Every night without fail, Jim Turner is there at the far corner of the bar, chain-smoking his Marlboros and sipping ice-cold San Miguel from the bottle, watching over the Little Ones. He considers them family, but they're not his children. They're the dwarfs and other little people the 70-year-old Iowa native has rescued from the heartless streets of this capital city to offer them friendship and honest work. [Source: John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2009 <^>]

“For 35 years, the former Peace Corps volunteer has operated the Hobbit House, a bar themed on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels, a realm marked by all things miniature. Under his care, hundreds of dwarfs have adopted new cultural identities. They're no longer shunned or even feared as supposed evil spirits, but have become popular characters called hobbits -- merry figures who serve drinks, crack ribald jokes and even entertain onstage. <^>

“At Turner's bar, on a dingy block of strip clubs and speak-easies in central Manila, the dwarfs draw a loyal crowd. They're entertainers who get the joke, always ready to use their small size for a few good-natured laughs. The Hobbit House features what may be the world's smallest Elvis impersonator. There have been hobbit jugglers, comics, dancers, flame-eaters and a singer who sounded eerily like Frank Sinatra. <^>

“Many of the waiters and bartenders are the grandchildren of the dwarfs who helped Turner launch the bar. There's now even a second location, at a tourist resort in the central Philippines. Yet critics have accused Turner of exploiting his workers. Stubbing out a Marlboro, he frowns. "We took many from the worst slums in Manila, where they were mocked and ridiculed," he says. "Now they're no longer carnival freaks. They're respected entertainers and businesspeople." <^>

Peace Corp Volunteer Who Founded the Hobbit House

John M. Glionna wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Turner arrived in the Philippines in 1961, a young idealist out to change the world. Among the first group of Peace Corps volunteers in the country, he taught English for two years in a rural province, then moved back to Manila. Slowly, he became consumed by this poor, exotic and often-maddening country. He wanted to stay. After years in Manila, Iowa seemed more like the foreign country. He did odd jobs, eventually becoming a television station manager. That's when he was introduced to his first dwarfs. We ran a lot of variety shows where we cast midgets, dwarfs and transvestites," says Turner, a graying man with bushy eyebrows. "They were a staple of TV then." [Source: John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2009 <^>]

“In 1972, then-President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and shut down the station. Turner needed work, so he and some friends came up with an idea for a theme bar. He'd read Tolkien's books as a boy in Cedar Rapids and knew that little people were easy to find in Manila. His first stop was a business called Central Casting, where he hired two dwarfs to work as doormen. Word got out and little people from all over the country began asking for work.<^>

“Soon Turner was overrun with little people. They worked as waiters and bartenders and he built them miniature sets of stairs that they climbed to conduct business at the towering wooden bar. But they soon wanted more: They asked to entertain. So Turner let them have the stage for vaudeville-type acts that featured little people as the big stars. His first performer was a woman named Little Lucy, who ate fire and juggled, balanced on a fulcrum. "For a while," Turner recalls, "everyone wanted to be an Elvis impersonator."<^>

Stories from Hobbit House

John M. Glionna wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Often, life at the Hobbit House was surreal. In one act, a dwarf dressed as a security guard patrolled with a Great Dane three times his size. On New Year's Eve, some of the performers wear diapers and bonnets and carry rattles onstage to become tottering symbols of the infant year. For a while, after an employee's uncle closed his pet store, monkeys roamed the bar. There were parrots, turkeys, an eagle and even an alligator. Turner eventually found homes for them too. [Source: John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2009 <^>]

“During martial law, the bar became the watering hole of the city's political subversives: anti-Marcos reactionaries, U.S. spies, protesters on the run from the law. In the mid-1970s, when Francis Ford Coppola filmed "Apocalypse Now" in the Philippines, the Hobbit House was a regular hangout for the director, actors and crew, Turner says, doing his impersonation of Marlon Brando shouting for another drink. <^>

“Over the years, he learned that not all of the hobbits were fairy-tale characters. He had to fire some who stole from the till. But Turner quickly recognized the ones he could trust. They are people like Fetalino. He started as a cashier, but when Turner heard he'd had two years of college, he sent Fetalino for management training. He's been general manager for 15 years. "You see the hurdles they scale," Turner says, "and you realize that no matter how many problems you have, if you're average size in this world, you've got the game half-won."

Benefactor of the Hobbit House

John M. Glionna wrote in the Los Angeles Times: ““And Turner is their godfather. Workers tell of the night when two drunken Australians began playing catch with terrified little people; Turner stepped between two ruffians nearly twice his size and threw them out of the bar. He has provided many of his workers with loans and housing and has paid tuitions. Several years ago, he gave them something perhaps even more precious: the Hobbit House itself. He founded a corporation, naming seven of his employees the main stockholders. Now they make the decisions and call the shots. From his perch at the bar, Turner watches over the business as a consultant and takes only enough salary to pay his bills. The dwarfs call him tito and kuya, "uncle" and "older brother." [Source: John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2009 <^>]

“Pidoy Fetalino, a 35-year veteran of the bar, likes to stroll into business meetings, raise his hand to greet average-sized clients and proudly announce that he's the establishment's general manager. Over drinks after the bar closes, he gets emotional about Turner, who has helped him put two children through college and discover self-respect. "He's our protector, a big man with a big heart," Fetalino says. "One day he said to us: 'This Hobbit House belongs to all of you. You earned it.' A lot of us cried that day." <^>

“One afternoon, Turner sits on the street-side patio as colorful jeepneys race past, their horns blaring, seats filled with passengers. An elderly dwarf limps in with two small men. Naida Morehon retired from the Hobbit House two years ago when her knees gave out. Her husband died last year and she needed money. As always, Turner took care of things. "Hi, Naida," he says, lighting a cigarette. "Did you get the check?" She hurries to embrace him. Seated, Turner is face to face with Morehon, who places her small hand on his cheek. "I did, Tito," she says. "What would we do without you?" <^>

“The Monday rush is here and the workers at the Hobbit House are ready for action. But sitting around a table, a few quietly voice a common concern: What would they ever do without the nurturing and guidance of Jim Turner? Although he swears he's in perfect health, they know he drinks and smokes too much. A decade ago, when he got sick, a large group of employees went to visit him in the hospital. An exhausted Turner had to tell nurses not to admit any visitor less than 4 feet tall. Many say it gives them comfort knowing he's there at his perch, with a green lamp by his side so he can see bills and paperwork in the darkened bar. But they know he's getting older and more frail. Perhaps Waiter Edward Vitto, 33, said it best: "It won't be the same place without him -- just a bunch of little people with broken hearts." <^>

Château Margaux Party in Manila

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported: “The most interesting private dinner of late 2008 in Metro Manila was perhaps one people didn’t know about, for it was held in utmost secrecy. Held in the home of a business/industry titan, it gathered 30 of the country’s Who’s Who, with diverse interests and clouts but sharing a consuming passion: fine covetable wine. They sat down to a gourmet dinner to relish and discourse on glasses of Château Margaux, the French wine with a heritage derived from over 400 years. [Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 15, 2009 ==]

“Château Margaux officials led by director general Paul Pontallier and business development director Aurélien Valance flew in from France, with executives of leading wine merchant Ficofi— founding chairman and CEO Philippe Capdouze, and director/head of Asia Pacific Christophe Bourrié. For the exclusive dinner, they brought from the Château Margaux estate bottles of vintage years many a wine connoisseur dream to have: 1989, 1995 and 1998 Château Margaux, 2000 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, 2005 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux. ==

“The dinner was a privilege extended by a private host to the select gathering. It wasn’t even a selling jaunt for the wine officials. However, in an exclusive sit-down with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Château Margaux executives shared interesting observations about the growing wine investment— yes, investment—in the world, especially Asia. ==

“Stocks, derivatives, mutual funds, every financial mutant imaginable— these traditional investments suddenly don’t seem like safe havens today. However, even long before the world economy began to unravel, a highly select market has already been investing in wine. In the Philippines alone, claimed a regional banker, wine investment could run to an estimated tens of millions of pesos a year; that in Japan or another rich country in Asia could be triple that. Pontallier said in the past two years, the Asian wine market has been fast approaching the level of Europe and the US. His group regularly meets with Ficofi clients to be in touch with the markets of, say, Korea and Singapore. ==

“Why are investors lured to investing in wine? Passion. Obsession. There are people to whom fine wine is a passion that surpasses all else (passion for wife included?), so much so that their lifestyle revolves around it. And what fans the flames of passion in this case is the fact that mastery of wine is a lifetime work. It’s an elusive craft, where the pursuit of excellence is like running toward a finish line you never do reach. Pontallier notes a recent direction: “What has changed in 10 years is that our market isn?t limited to the traditional anymore. In more and more places, people are into fine cuisine [likewise, fine wine]—in the Philippines, Thailand, Eastern Europe.” “==

Alcohol and Cigarette Taxes in the Philippines

In January 2013. The Philippines imposed new taxes on alcohol and tobacco. Jess Diaz wrote in the Philippine Star, “The New Year ushers in higher taxes on cigarettes, beer, liquor, wine, and other tobacco and alcohol products. When he signed Republic Act No. 10351 on Dec. 20, President Aquino said, “Today, we are again making history: for the past 15 years, we have been trying to reform the tax structure of imposing excise tax on tobacco and alcohol products. After 15 long years, we have finally succeeded.” “As the people’s servant, I shall personally ensure that this government shall implement the Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012 in a transparent and accountable manner starting Jan. 1, 2013,” he said. [Source: Jess Diaz, Philippine Star, January 1, 2013 ^=^]

“Starting today, the tax on cigarettes packed by hand, which comprise the bulk of tobacco products sold in the country, is P12 per pack for those with a net retail price (excluding the excise tax and the 12-percent value added tax) of P11.50 and below. For those with a higher retail price, the tax is P25. The rates will go up to P17 and P27 in 2014, P21 and P28 in 2015, and P25 and P29 in 2016. There will be a single rate of P30 per pack starting 2017, rising by four percent every year. This means that the four categories of cigarettes based on their retail prices and tax rates under the old law have been reduced to just two, with the new law providing for a uniform tax treatment beginning in 2017. ^=^

The old levies ranged from P2 per pack for low-priced cigarettes to P28 for those classified as premium. For fermented liquor (beer), the tax is P15 per liter if the net retail price is P50.60 and below per liter, and P20 per liter for those with a higher price. The rates will rise to P17 and P21 in 2014, P19 and P22 in 2015, and P21 and P23 in 2016. A uniform tax of P23.50 will be imposed starting in 2017, which will increase by four percent every year. For distilled spirits, the tax is 15 percent of net retail price plus P20 per proof liter, rising to 20 percent plus P20 in 2015. In the case of wine, the tax is P200 per bottle of 750 ml (milliliter) if its net retail price is P500 or less, and P500 per if the wine costs more. ^=^

“According to Sen. Franklin Drilon, principal author of the Senate version of the sin tax bill, additional sin tax collections for 2013 would amount to P33.96 billion, P42.82 billion in 2014, P50.63 billion in 2015, P56.86 billion in 2016, and P64.18 billion in 2017, for a total of P248.49 billion in five years. Some 70 percent of such collections would come from tobacco products. The law allocates 15 percent of incremental revenues for programs that would benefit tobacco farmers. Of the remaining 85 percent, 80 percent “shall be allocated for universal health care under the national health insurance program, the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and health awareness programs; and 20 percent shall be allocated nationwide, based on political and district subdivisions, for medical assistance and health enhancement facilities, the annual requirements of which shall be determined by the Department of Health.” The 20 percent for medical assistance and hospitals to be distributed among “political and district subdivisions” is additional pork barrel funds for members of Congress.

WTO Rules Philippines Tax on Alcohol Imports Is Illegal

In August 2011, the World Trade Organisation ruled that a tax levied in the Philippines on imports of alcohol broke global rules on free trade. The BBC reported: “It said the tax, which supports domestic producers who use local cane and palm sugar, gives them an unfair advantage. The US has previously urged the Philippines to open its market to foreign alcoholic drinks.The Filipino government argued that the tax was apt. US Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, said the decision shows "the commitment of the US to combat trade barriers". [Source: BBC, August 16, 2011]

“The ruling could lead to more sales of imported alcoholic drinks in the country. The US and the European Union argued that because the Filipino products were marketed as whiskey, gin, vodka, and tequila just like the foreign products, they should be taxed at the same rate. However, the government in Manila claimed that because the beverages are actually made from different ingredients the excise tax was correctly applied. European companies have complained that the tax meant foreign products managed to grab just 2.5 percent of the domestic market, giving control of the sector to three Filipino companies. [Ibid]

Non-Alcoholic Drinks in the Philippines

Fruit drinks are plentiful and delicious. On the street they are often served in plastic bags. Fresh coconut water are also widely available and good. Fresh coconuts are refreshing and hygienic. Drink it with a straw straight from the coconut. Don't let the vendor pour it into a glass, which may be unclean. Sugar cane juice is also good but sometimes unhygienic.

Coffee has become popular in recent years. Manila has its share of Starbucks. Water is usually boiled and served at room temperature’ Soft drinks such as Coke, Pepsi, Orange Crush and Fanta are widely available and cheap. Some coastal areas serve toddy (palm sap) drinks. Also worth trying is buko (a cold drink made from a young coconut) and kalamansi (juice made from small lemons). The Filipinos are not big coffee or tea drinkers.

In the early 2000s, the Philippines was the world's eighth largest consumer of carbonated soft drinks. Pepsi has a major presence in the country and has run a popular numbers game. Coca-cola arrived in 1924.

Tablea tsokolate is hot chocolate drink that dates back to colonial times. It is made from tablea de cacao -- bittersweet, thick flat chocolate disks. The traditional version is available at Adarna Food and Culture in Manila. [Source: Maida Pineda, Candice Lopez-Quimpo, CNN March 6, 2012 <>]

Consumption of carbonated soft drinks (gallons in 2000): 9.1, compared to 55.8 in the United States. Consumption of bottled water (gallons in 2000): 2.1 compared to 9.5 in the United States. [Source: Euromonitor International]

Filipino Civet Coffee

Civet coffee that sells for $700 a kilogram is produced in the Philippines. Reporting from Indang in the Philippines, Oliver Teves of Associated Press wrote: “Its origins might put off some coffee drinkers, but an exotic bean that draws top dollar from connoisseurs is plucked from animal droppings. Not just any animal. The coffee comes from beans eaten but undigested by the palm civet, a nocturnal, fruit-eating cousin of the mongoose that roams tropical forests. Civet coffee, which some aficionados consider among the world's best, sells for as much as $300 a pound in the United States. Only 550 pounds are produced worldwide each year, said Antonio Reyes, executive director of the International Coffee Organization Certifying Agency. [Source: Oliver Teves, Associated Press, January 02, 2005 \~/]

“Although civets normally eat sugar palm nuts, they prefer the ripest coffee cherries during harvest season, which runs from December to March. The beans pass through their systems undigested and are deposited as sausage-like clumps onto the forest floor. Reyes says the civet's digestive process, particularly the enzymes in its stomach, probably gives the brew its distinctive flavor and aroma. "It's a special type of post-harvest processing. It has been processed in a very natural way," he said. \~/

“Civet coffee in the cup has a "chocolaty aroma and the taste is bold and nutty," said Alvira "Vie" Reyes, a businesswoman who sells the exotic beans. Other fans describe civet coffee as full-bodied with medium acidity and no bitter aftertaste. Reyes and her husband, Basil, who are not related to Antonio Reyes, are trying to reheat local interest in producing civet coffee around Indang, a coffee- and sugar palm-producing town in Cavite province south of Manila. Elders here say people used to gather civet droppings so that their families could still have coffee even if they sold all their conventionally harvested beans. \~/

“Reyes says her company, which mainly makes vinegar from sugar palm sap, has produced only about 55 pounds in two years and sold nearly all of it, keeping a little for their own use. "If we can make a systematic collection of these droppings and produce them on a more systematic basis, maybe we can have a quantity available that we can produce for the export market," Antonio Reyes said. He says the Philippines, a coffee-drinking nation but a small producer, should aim for "small volume but high value" coffee. "We've been looking for types of coffee that we could sell in a niche market abroad because we don't have the quantity," he said. "But if these are coffees that are unique and different in taste, then we can get value for it." \~/

“Eleuterio Balidio, a farmer who gathers sugar palm saps to make into vinegar for the Reyes' company, says he sells a kilogram of dried civet beans for or $18, about 45 times what he gets for conventional coffee beans. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds. The roasted beans are sold locally in 1.8- and 3.5-ounce bottles for $4.50 and $9, respectively. Balidio says he forages the forest floor and river banks for civet droppings near his home in Indang. "It's very difficult to look for it. It's like digging for gold." Back home, he washes the clumps, separates the beans and dries them in the sun. "Some are smelly; others are not," he said. "If you are lucky, you can gather up to a kilo in a day. You just have to be hardworking." \~/

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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