SINUDAD (fermented heirloom rice) is one of the trendy indigenous beverages served in traditional Ibaloy festivities or special occasions and is now being prepared for the local market. With the product (sinudad) introduced at the Benguet State University Internal Guarantee System (BIGS) marketing center, the sinudad has become one of the most sought-after items by consumers.

Sinudad, an Ibaloy term referring to fermented rice wine which also refers to fermented cassava, has always been a homemade beverage. As such, it is also consumed locally either by the household members themselves or whenever rituals and other occasions of which the wine is specially prepared for. In the past, drinking wine or alcohol in the Cordillera is considered as “social drinking” as a way to ward off tiredness or weariness of the body and while almost everyone gets to drink, it is always “done in a manner that is not excessive.”

Presently, this has reconfigured a lot. The tradition of making rice wine is usually associated with its maker – usually “who makes” the sweetest or “light” or “lively” wine becomes popular in the area. It is also said that there are “sinudad” that does not make one sober and one secret to this is because of its makers. In the context of the BSU-BIGS marketing, sinudad is associated with Bokod wine makers. Several households of Wakal-Nawal are making sinudad and have become popular for such.

As it is, sinudad as a local brew has simple ingredients: water, yeast, sugar and rice, usually traditional rice. Yeast or bubod, is being prepared by other local households of Bokod. For a local wine maker, it is important that the yeast should come from the locality as the bubod coming from outside seem to carry a “different taste,” not familiar to the palate of the locals, so they say. This particular sinudad taste is said to be “unique” and perhaps this is the reason why the sinudad when first marketed at the BSU BIGS marketing, immediately gained customers.

But like any other item being sold at the “pesticide-free” marketing center of the University, periodic monitoring by the Office of Extension Services (OES) recommended the need for winemakers of sinudad to undergo training on product standardization and food safety. Interview data also reveal that for the wine makers themselves, problems like shelf life, consistency of taste have become lingering concerns.

This prompted the OES to organize and coordinate with the College of Home Economics and Technology for knowledge upgrading, hence the training on Food processing and proper food handling at Nawal Bokod, was finally conducted. Mr. Lesley Umayat of the Department of Entrepreneurship of the CHET introduced the participants to several principles of attaining product quality, food safety handling up to packaging of the product. Critical Control Points (CCP) was also introduced to the participants from the raw materials used to preparation to inoculation of bubod, fermentation up to packaging.

Some of the highlights of Umayat’s lecture include things to be avoided in wine making: the use of unsterilized jars/bottle; use of metal vessels and the use of bare hands to handle the food. The lecture also emphasized on the need to cling to some principles of sterilization because improper food processing can result to stronger taste or that too much yeast can result to bitter taste.

Mr. E. Pistola, the municipal coordinator of the Timpuyog Dagiti Umanamong ti BSU-Internal Guarantee System (TUBIGS) of Bokod, expressed the realization of the benefits of “standardizing methods and processes” especially in terms of sustaining customer satisfaction. He also agreed with the statement of the resource person who emphasized on the need for budding entrepreneurs to look into the use of local resources coupled with food processing technologies to minimize waste.

The BIGS or the BSU Internal Guarantee System is the BSU mechanism of ensuring that products that passes through its marketing are pesticide free as well as “safe for consumers.” The phrase “internal guarantee system” is done in such a manner that the mechanism of monitoring is regularly done and is participatory as it involves representatives from the farmers groups.

The need to train or “standardized” procedures such as this activity, emanated from the BSU-OES monitoring activities, which is a concrete manifestation of the University’s commitment for continuing relevance of its services to the communities that it served. These extension activities are also in fulfillment to certain SDG targets – specifically on Goals 3 (good health and well-being) Goal 4 (Gender equality) and SDG 1, poverty alleviation. Twenty-one local farmers and processors attended this particular seminar and are now ready to prepare sinudad that is not only a cultural marker but this time integrating the science of food processing and preservation.

Bokod’s sinudad (cassava and heirloom rice) will soon resume its marketing at the BSU BIGS Marketing center.