Tapuey and bugnay winemaking provide livelihood for I-Apayao housewives

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By KC Santos

ADAMS, ILOCOS NORTE  – Winemaking not only serves to promote the culture  of this northern Ilocos Norte town, it is also a burgeoning industry that provides  livelihood for members of the local I-Apayao tribe.

Adams, located north of Pagudpud, produces wine products made from tapuey (glutinous rice) and bugnay (wild berries).

Nanay Ingga Acupan pioneered the production of tapuey, which traces its origins in Ilocos Sur, some 40 years ago. Read more about Nanay Ingga in this article posted on Ilocandiastreasures.com.

On the other hand, it was Levirato Cabradilla who started the production of bugnay wine, brought from the mountain province of Benguet.

But both turned winemaking into a full-fledged family business only after the Association of Wine Makers of Adams was formed in 2008, partly aimed at promoting tourism in Adams.

Through the initiative of Dr. Bielmaju Waly-Bawingan, backed by the local government and the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), the production of tapuey and bugnay wine has become an alternative source of income for I-Apayao housewives.

Incidentally, Dr. Bawingan is the wife of incumbent Adams mayor Eric Bawingan. Members of the Adams wine makers group can avail of up to P5,000 in soft loan from the local government to help expand their wine production.

“The local government administrates the workers’ training (for wine processing), and I consolidate with the DoST for the formulation and promotion of the products,” shares Dr. Bawingan, who owns a winery herself. The association has about 40 members, most of them housewives who ventured into winemaking.

“We are growing very limited bugnay fruits in this area so pushing through (the business) required of us sheer guts,” says Paul Acupan, municipal assessor and the son of Nanay Ingga. Adams gets its supply of bugnay from nearby towns.

Bugnay winemaking, in particular, is a long and arduous process, from sorting of the fruit to fermenting it. It takes one whole year to produce at least 20,000 bottles of bugnay wine.

A bottle of bugnay wine usually costs P100 but only sold as far as Laoag City, the capital city of Ilocos Norte some two hours away from Adams. Acupan says the association is looking at joining trade fairs in Manila to promote bugnay wine.

At the end of the day, he says winemaking in Adams is not entirely about locals making big business out of it but achieving a sense of fulfillment by earning a living while promoting local culture.

For orders and other inquiries about Adams tapuey and bugnay wine, contact Paul Acupan 0917.5775111 or email Dr. Bielmaju Waly-Bawingan at bielmajuwaley@yahoo.com

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Tarabitab says:

It is high time for Adams to catch up with the rest of the LGUs. Hope this kind of initiative will go a long way.

deme bernardin says:

ur wine is awesome. more power

Ronal Larson, PhD says:

I was a several day visitor (from Golden Colorado USA) to Adams this month. I came to see how the emerging carbon sequestration concept called Biochar could fit in to the Adams economy (It can). I can confirm the statements about the Bugnay wine (and many other varieties) – but also strongly recommend Adams as a great place to visit. A wonderful, beautiful setting for eco-tourism in a very remote (but reachable) town that has its act together.

deme bernardin says:

hi guys i ve tried ur bignay wine and its good. if you need some wine making supplies or equipment just let me know. call my no. 09282940517.