The words “It took me 3 attempts to get the perfect coconut sugar.” from Marcelito Navarro, the President of Guinsiliban Coconut Sugar Producers Association in Camiguin struck me.
Camiguin’s Best Coco Sugar has already been making the name and I’m glad they’re back in the 2017 Kahimunan Regional Trade Fair in Cagayan de Oro. I recalled buying the coco sugar in 2015 for the purpose that I see it as a good fit for my father who has diabetes.
It’s now time to get to know how this humble yet proud product that grew to Camiguin’s best coconut sugar.
Marcelito Navarro started to make the coconut sugar in 2012 after acquiring the technology from the Agay-ayan Multipurpose Cooperative. He recalled getting back home to Camiguin and tested processing the coconut wine to sugar grains. It took him 3 attempts to get the perfect coconut sugar recipe and formulation. Since then this coconut sugar has been making waves locally and internationally.
When asked what’s the hardest part of the whole process, he tells me that it’s the coconut wine collection is the most challenging among all. They get the coco wine day and night from his 24 coconut trees. Once he gets enough wine, he cooks it directly, dries it and puts the caramelized coconut wine in a frame. When blessed with so much coconut wine caramel to process, they use the machine provided by the government.
CCRRMP (Camiguin Coastal Resorts Management Project), a non-government agency, saw their potential and gave them a Php 50,000 to start. DOLE also gave a P300,000 assistance in 2014.
Mr. Navarro also recalled that somebody tried imitating the coconut sugar but did not succeed. The Camiguin’s Best Coco Sugar continues to be the only prevailing product of its kind in the island.
During the interview, I kinda sensed that this group has been blessed with so many opportunities and support. In fact, he highlighted that the Department of Trade and Industry has helped them a lot. “Ang tabang nga gihatag sa DTI kanamo, aduna mi double-burner nga machine, among lutuan, duha kabuok table nga stainless, duha kabuok chiller, duha kabuok timbangan/weighing scale ug katong electronic ang isa, aduna pod mi moisture nga isa.” He explained with gladness.
Today, a 500 grams coco sugar would cost around Php 120. Mr. Marcelito Navarro ended our conversation with an invite to buy the coco sugar as it has less sugar content over sugar cane. The coco sugar can also be mixed with anything. Their whole family has been a user of coco sugar ever since they started it in Camiguin.
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