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More about Bohol's Famous Calamay
« on: July 04, 2007, 05:12:08 PM »
By Joe Sprite
Jagna-based Writer
Sunday Post (published in 2006)

One of the industries that will be affected by the temporary closure of the port is the calamay making. The mainstay of most women of Jagna, it will suffer from lack of selling exposure. Only those hawking in the highway will be able to sell their wares to passengers. Those who sell in the pier area will scarcely have customers. This will go on until the pier is improved and opened again for business.

Jagna calamay vendors had been offered to sell in the Sandugo celebration. They will be competing with those from Alburquerque and perhaps Baclayon. However, Jagna vendors will have the edge since the quality of their wares are controlled by the association called Jagna Calamay Makers and Vendors Association or JACAMAVEA. The association sees to it that the buyers are assured of the quality of what they buy.

It is not clearly established who started the calamay industry. However, people say that this started before the war. We were only sure that only a few ventured into this business. The oldest calamay maker known was Librada Macas, then Ungab. She lived in Putol, a sitio of Canupao. In the Centro of the barrio was also another calamay maker and this was Severino Cuadra and his sisters. In the later days, Estang, the wife of Romualdo Bajade and the widow Prisca Beronio raised the quality of the calamay. It was they who made calamay on order.

Calamay is glutinous rice flour cooked in coconut milk sweetened by muscovado sugar. It is boiled over slow fire stirring constantly until the right consistency is reached. Stirring the delicacy over hot coals require plenty of sweat that only a few ventured into this industry since the sales was sporadic at the most. People outside Jagna had not yet acquired a taste for it.

What made calamay making tough at that time was the packaging. The traditional coconut shell container was scraped clean with a sharp bolo or a large knife. It involves stepping on the half shell and scraping at the fibers on the outer surface of the shell until it is smooth. One can clean only a few shells in an hour. However, somebody found out that using spokeshaves simplified the cleaning process.

When the commuting public discovered that the calamay is a handy as well as a delicious, well-appreciated pasalubong, the demand rose. Everybody got into the act. Canupao no longer had the monopoly of the industry. First it was people from Bunga Ilaya then other barrios followed. Since they were new, quality of their product was poor and the original calamay makers suffered. First, they identified themselves as the original calamay makers but it was no good. Everybody could also claim that since no proof is needed.

Then a municipal councilor, probably Jovito Ranara proposed an ordinance that each calamay must bear the name of the maker. Ranara is the logical proponent of the ordinance since he is from Canupao and many of his kin is in the industry. With Albur making their own version of the calamay, the Jagna makers formed and organization the JACAMAVEA. Their inspectors perform a spot check on calamay sold, Those who do not pass the standard are either warned or stopped from selling their wares.

However, there are still rogue vendors, those who make and sell substandard calamay. They are barred from selling in places where regular members ply their trade. Or they are prevented from selling until they can prove that they have improved the quality of their product. They were able to maintain their quality that the association said that they are invited to sell calamay in the Sandugo.

There are makers who had made a name for them that they do not have to sell at the designated area. The wares are just displayed in their store. Buses, vans and private transportation stop to buy. The owner is conducting a thriving business because she maintained the high standard of her product. JACAMAVEA can take a clue from her.

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