On September 7, 2012, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (DSA) and the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC), with the support of Kusina ni Mama Sita, hosted an event called “Mga Kuwentong Pagkain: Ang Asin Tibuok” to promote a unique artisanal salt still being made in Alburquerque, Bohol. Introductions were made by Dr. Czarina Saloma and Dr. Fernando Zialcita, who in the previous summer directed the Ateneo Cultural Laboratory that was held in Baclayon, Alburquerque, Loay, and Loboc. During the event, Kusina ni Mama Sita introduced its nationwide essay-writing contest on culinary heritage called “Mga Kuwentong Pagkain.” Presentations by students currently enrolled in Dr. Zialcita’s “Culture and the Senses” class highlight varieties of salt, salt-making in Alburquerque, and branding the Asin Tibuok. The high point of the afternoon was the degustation – the tasting of Asin Tibuok carefully, so as to appreciate it fully. The merienda, prepared by Chef Justin B. David and Chef Conrad Legaspi, consisted of unsalted dishes to be tried with a dash of Asin Tibuok. During the open forum, Mr. Renante Manungas, a kagawad from Alburquerque and owner of a salt-making enterprise, answered questions. Mrs. Enriqueta Butalid of the Center for Culture and Arts Development of the Province of Bohol formally closed the event.
In her introductory remarks, Dr. Saloma shared that one of the goals of the cultural laboratory, an IPC special project with the DSA and held in different localities every summer is to support local communities’ initiatives in preserving significant aspects of their cultural heritage. One of the strategies adopted by the ACL is enabling different actors and groups to interact with each other in new ways. The Asin Tibuok event indeed brought together the academe, local governments, social development organizations, and the private sector. Dr. Zialcita, for his part, highlighted the importance of looking at localities with the French notion of terroir – focusing on ecological and cultural relationships, and thus highlighting the provenance of a product. Towards this end, samples of Asin Tibuok have been sent to Mama Sita’s research and development department. This is a concrete step in exploring the possibility of selling Asin Tibuok – branded as a unique salt from Alburquerque, Bohol – in their specialty shops, after it has passed food tests and has been re-packaged.
* Article originally appeared in the 16 September 2012 issue of the Bohol Chronicle.