Calamay: the future of Jagna
By: Jennice Wong
“Calamay, calamy!” A man holding a basket with calamay suddenly hopped on to the yellow bus through the opened door while it was still moving.
After he wandered in the bus for a few minutes failing to find any customers, he went off the bus and quickly ran across the street.
Calamay, a Jagna local sticky sweet delicacy, made of coconut milk, brown sugar, glutinous rice, and peanuts have brought the local people here with economic opportunities and pleasure since the early 1900s. The calamay industry has empowered the members of Jagna Calamay Makers and Vendors Association (JACAMAVEA) with economic independence. Among the 70 members of the organization, 66 of them are women, which comprised of a considerable portion (Bohol Tourism, 2015).
While the brands of the calamays may vary, the packagings of calamays look similar: plastic bowls for smaller sizes and dried coconuts for bigger portions . Many of the calamays are homemade which are sold in cheaper pricings than the one made by factories with better hygiene and quality. The homemade ones are usually sold in front of the market with pricing of 35 pesos for smaller one and 50 pesos for bigger, offering only one favor. The factory one might sell as high as 50 pesos each for the smaller one and 90 pesos each for the bigger one with the options of ubi and original. The taro favored calamays are more expansive due to the usage of white sugar and taro powder. Since it is expansive and low in demand, the taro calamays seldom are sold in the market.
Among the two factories Calamenderas and Ching’s Calamay we visited on Tuesday, the factory Calamenderas impressed me for its high technological machinery. In the Ching’s Calamay factory, the stirring job required manpower for eight to nine hours for one pot. While the Calamenderas factory only needs three hours to finish the stirring process of four containers. The high efficiency allows the factory to produce sixteen pots of calamays in a day. Other than the stirring machinery, there is also a steaming machine to disinfect the dried coconut shell to ensure food safety. But on the contrary, the factory closes on Tuesday and Thursday for maintaining and cleaning process. The packaged calamays are placed on the shelves, which will be delivered on the next day. The calamays are sold in large quantities to malls in Tagbilaran such as Island City Mall and to other islands in the Philippines such as Dabaw through the Jagna port.
“Have you ever thought of exporting the calamays to other countries?” I asked the manager of the Calamay factory.
“Yes, we do. We are still on the food tech process since the calamays expires in 12 days. We have tried to put some chemicals to make it stay longer. But the taste changes. The coconut oil floats up.”
If the technology allows the calamays to have a longer expiration period, there is a possibility for the calamay factories to export to other nearby countries such as China, Vietnam, or even Thailand. There is a future for Jagna, to specialize in the production of calamay with a series of favours to suit the customers’ needs. With a significant demand for the natural resources of coconuts, the prices of coconuts also will increase slightly, which benefits every family with coconut trees.
When my host family realized that I bought a calamay, there were so excited.
“It tastes so good! Try it with the bread.” Gerome gave me a slice of bread to try.
To the local people here, calamay is one of their favorite food. While the rich family may enjoy it every day. To the poor family, calamay is still an expensive good that will only buy it when they have money. But undeniable, the calamay industry has deeply affected Jagna and its people, bring them happiness and wealth.
Bohol Tourism. Jagna: Bohol’s “Calamay County”. (2015, September 01). Retrieved from http://www.boholtourismph.com/jagna-calamay-manufacture-tour/ dpriori