BARUGO, Leyte – Producers of tuba, a local wine extracted from coconut tree, is still suffering the brunt of last year’s supertyphoon, but are determined to rise up from the rubble, counting on high demands. Raul Sandoval, 39, of Bulod village in Barugo, used to sell 60 liters of tuba daily before Yolanda. When the disaster damaged coconut trees, the volume sold dropped to only 16 liters daily.

“Before the catastrophe, I extract tuba from 47 trees daily, but now I only get it from 20 trees. Most of the trees were either uprooted or sheared and surviving trees are not producing that much,” Sandoval told Leyte Samar Daily Express. His daily income from gathering tuba dramatically dropped from P480 per day to only P200. Due to high demand and low supply, the price per gallon went up to P120 now from only P50 before Yolanda.

Before Yolanda, he delivered wine to Tacloban City, but slackened supply in the past nine months limits his market reach within their village. Sandoval, who have been climbing coconut trees everyday to collect coconut sap, is just one of the thousands of tuba gatherers in Barugo, a fourth class town in Leyte known for tuba production. The town is about 52 kilometers northwest of Tacloban City. Another tuba maker, Norberto Barcelo, said that high demand for tuba was observed.

“Before Yolanda, I had stocks of 400 drums. Some of them have been in our storage area for eight years. We shifted our focus to the local market because of the very strong demand,” Barcelo, whose been in the industry for 38 years now, said. Each drum contains 200 liters of wine. Before the disaster, the selling price per gallon (four liters) was P140. It increased to P250 per gallon after Yolanda. “Because of supply shortage, many people turned to me to buy tuba. I took it as an opportunity to introduce to ordinary people the high quality local wine with color and taste enhanced by natural process,” he recalled From average weekly sales of 45 liters, it went up to 120 liters after Yolanda. About 80% of buyers are within Leyte area. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)