A manananggot is an individual who gathers tuba for a living. Do you know that having this job is challenging and exhausting? You’ll need care and focus to prevent falling from the coconut tree. If you’re not careful enough, you may fall and get injured. You also need to get up as early as four or five o’clock in the morning to gather more tuba.
Being a manananggot also lies in blood. This means that this job is a livelihood handed down from the great grandfathers who passed on their knowledge to the next generations. For example, John Abella, a manananggot for 8 years, has a father who has been a manananggot for 24 years—Virgilio Abella. They work together to feed their family.
Virgilio has eight children, and one of them is John, who is one of his triplets. His wife is Clarita Lapis-Abella, a housewife who also helps them to clean the sugong—a bamboo container of tuba. Virgilio said, “Ang kaning pagka manananggot namo kay gikan ra sad sa among mga kalolohan. [We inherited this kind of work from our ancestors.]”
Meanwhile, Robisper Sumaria, another manananggot from Tuyom, Carcar, also said that his job as a manananggot is an heirloom and a family tradition. The knowledge that he learned from his great grandfathers is very helpful to their living. “Dako dyud og tabang ang mga nakat-unan nako sa among panginabuhi. [The things I learned really helped in our livelihood.]“, Robisper said.
For a first-time manananggot, it is not that easy to climb up a tree or to wake up so early. At first, climbing up the tree is very hard. You need to be very careful in climbing because you might fall. Although Virgilio and Robisper did not experience falling from a coconut tree, both of them said that they felt very tired the first time. They even experienced muscle pains.
But, once you are used to climbing, it will become easy for you. According to Virgilio, you should wake up early to start working. Virgilio climbs the coconut trees from 5 o’clock until 9 o’clock in the morning. You can get more tuba if you start your work early. Virgilio climbs 40 trees a day, while Robisper can climb 50 trees a day.
At about 9 o’clock in the morning, after gathering the tuba, they need to deliver the tuba to the market in Carcar. To reach the market, Virgilio has to ride a motorcycle. The fare of the motorcycle is paid by the tuba buyer. Virgilio earns about 500 pesos daily, about 3,000 pesos weekly, and about 12,000 pesos or so monthly. The money that he earns is enough for his family. But, during low sales, the unsold tuba will be made into bahalina to preserve it.
Sometimes his family cannot eat, especially if he and his son cannot gather tuba. They have to work everyday, rain or shine. “Ang manananggot kay gitawag nga uwan-init nga tawo kay tungod sa pagtrabaho uwan o init man [The manananggot is called rain-shine person because he does his job through rain or shine],” Virgilio said. “Kinahanglan gyud magtrabaho og maayo para makakaon. [We need to work hard so that we can put food on our table.]”
Meanwhile, Robisper Sumaria owns his tuba field of about 200 square meters and has an alternative source of living aside from tuba. If the money that he earns from tuba is not enough, he has a vegetable garden where they can get food and sell vegetables in the market. For him, the education of his children is very important, so he works very hard. He allows his children to drink the sweet kind of tuba because of its good effects.
A manananggot also has his or her rival enemies in getting tuba. Some of these are the honey bees, ants, flies, bees, beetle, batul (or bakokang, a beetle), mice, and bats. These organisms are harmful and destructive in getting tuba. Because of these organisms, the manananggot’s income is also affected.
Being a manananggot is hard and, of course, dangerous, but manananggots have to work very hard no matter how dangerous the work is. Manananggots are really patient, hardworking, and family lovers. We should be proud of the manananggots because they are not only working to earn a living but also promoting our own culture and product.