Manufacture Of Coconut OilApril 30, 2022
On the southern half of the eastern border, on the shore from Borongan by Láuang as far as Guíuan, there are considerable plantations of coconuts, which are most imperfectly applied to oil production.
From Borongan and its visitas, 12,000 pitchers of coconut oil are yearly exported to Manila. Those consumed by men and pigs would suffice for at least 8,000 pitchers.
As 1,000 coconuts yield 8 pitchers and a half. The vicinity of Borongan alone yields annually 6,000,000 coconuts. With each tree producing 50 coconuts, 120,000 trees are required. The statement that their number in the above-mentioned district amounts to several millions must be an exaggeration.
The oil is obtained in a very rude manner. The kernel is rasped out of the woody shell of the nut on rough boards, and left to rot. A few boats in a state of decay, elevated on posts in the open air, serve as reservoirs, the oil dropping through their crevices into pitchers placed underneath.
Finally, the boards are subjected to pressure. This operation, which requires several months for its completion, yields such a bad, dark-brown, and viscid product that the pitcher fetches only 2.25 dollars in Manila, while a superior oil costs 6 dollars.*
Recently a young Spaniard has erected a factory in Borongan to better prepare the oil. A winch, turned by two buffaloes, sets a number of rasps in motion by means of toothed wheels and leather straps.
They are somewhat like a gimlet in form, and consist of 5 iron plates, with dentated edges, which are placed radiating on the end of an iron rod, and close together, forming a blunt point towards the front.
The other end of the rod passes through the centre of a disk, which communicates the rotary motion to it, and projects beyond it. The workman, taking a divided cocoa-nut in his two hands, holds its interior arch, which contains the oil-bearing nut, with a firm pressure against the revolving rasp, at the same time urging with his breast, which is protected by a padded board, against the projecting end of the rod.
The fine shreds of the nut remain for 12 hours in flat pans so that they may be partially decomposed. They are then lightly pressed in hand-presses. The liquor consists of 1/3 oil and 2/3 water and is caught in tubs, from which, at the end of 6 hours, the oil, floating on the surface, is skimmed off.
It is then heated in iron pans, containing 100 litres, until the whole of the water in it has evaporated, which takes from two to three hours. In order that the oil may cool rapidly, and not become dark in colour, two pailfuls of cold oil, freed from water, are poured into it, and the fire quickly removed to a distance. The compressed shreds are once more exposed to the atmosphere, and then subjected to a powerful pressure.
After these 2 operations have been twice repeated, the rasped substance is suspended in sacks between two strong vertical boards and crushed to the utmost by means of clamp screws, and repeatedly shaken up. The refuse serves as food for pigs. The oil which runs from the sacks is free from water, and is consequently very clear, and is employed in the cooling of that which is obtained in the first instance.*
- At Borongan the tinája of 12 gantas cost 6r. (one quart about 10d.), the pot 2r., the freight to Manila 3r., or, if the product is carried as cargo (matrose), 24r. The price at Manila refers to the tinája of 16 gantas.
The factory produces 1,500 tinajas of oil. It is in operation only 9 months in the year from December to February the transport of nuts being prevented by the tempestuous seas, there
- Newly prepared coconut oil serves for cooking. But it quickly becomes rancid. It is very generally used for burning.
In Europe, where it seldom appears in a fluid state, as it does not dissolve until 16° R., it is used in the manufacture of tapers, but especially for soap, for which it is peculiarly adapted. Cocoa-nut soap is very hard, and brilliantly white, and is dissolved in salt water more easily than any other soap. The oily nut has lately been imported from Brazil into England under the name of " copperah," and pressed after heating.
being no land communication. The manufacturer was not successful in procuring nuts from the immediate vicinity in sufficient quantity to enable him to carry on his operations without interruption, nor, during the favourable season of the year, could he lay up a store for the winter months, although he paid the comparatively high price of three dollars per thousand.
While the natives manufactured oil in the manner just described,
21 r. ; that is 3 r. less than was offered them for the raw nuts. These data, which are obtained from the manufacturers, are probably exaggerated, but they are in the main well founded ; and the traveller in the Philippines often has the opportunity of observing similar anomalies. For example, in Daét, North Camarínes, I bought six cocoa-nuts for .one cuarto, at the rate of nine hundred and sixty for one dollar, the common price there. On my asking why no oil-factory had been erected, I received for answer that the nuts were cheaper singly than in quantities. In the first place, the Indian sells only when he wants money ; but he knows that the manufacturer cannot well afford to have his business suspended ; so, careless of the result, he makes a temporary profit, and never thinks of ensuring for himself a permanent source of income.
In the province of Lagúna, the natives prepare coarse brown sugar from sugar-cane. The women carry it for leagues to the market, or expose it for sale on the country roads, in small loaves (panoche), generally along with buyo.
Every passenger chats with the seller, weighs the loaf in the hand, eats a bit, and probably passes on without buying any. In the evening the woman returns to her home with her wares, and the next day repeats the same process.
Particular instances have escaped my recollection ; but I remember that in two cases at least the price of the sugar in these loaves was cheaper than in the pico. Moreover,
The Government anticipated the natives in setting the example, by selling cigars cheaper singly than in quantities. - In Europe a speculator generally can calculate beforehand, with the greatest certainty, the cost of production of any article; but in the Philippines it is not always so easy.
Independently of the uncertainty of labour, the regularity of the supply of raw material is disturbed, not only by laziness and caprice, but also by jealousy and distrust.
The natives, as a rule, do not willingly see Europeans settle amongst them and engage successfully in local operations which they themselves do not understand how to execute. Similarly, the creoles are reserved with foreigners, who generally are superior to them in capital, skill, and activity.
Besides jealousy, suspicion also plays a great pas, and this influences the native as well against the mestize as against the Castilian.
Enough takes place to the present day to justify this feeling; but formerly, when the most thriving subjects could buy governorships, and shamelessly fleece their provinces, such outrageous abuses are said to have been permitted that, in process of time, suspicion has become a kind of instinct amongst the Indians.