No more alcohol due to panic buying? Lambanog comes to the rescue in the southern Tagalog region of the Philippines.
So what is Lambanog?
Referred to as a “poor man’s drink”, Lambanog is a liquor made from the sap called “tuba” of the coconut flower. It is collected similar to rubber fluid tapping. The tuba is then fermented and distilled to make wine. Men and sometimes women in the villages get together in a so-called “Tagayan” session to partake of the wine with fried meat or fish as “pulutan” or appetizer.
But the Lambanog is not only a drink. It has been used as a sanitizer or massage oil by villagers. So it is not surprising that with the advent of COVID-19, the people who knew the power of Lambanog as a disinfectant did not worry of alcohol scarcity.
Lambanog, as sold in the market, carries 80 to 90% proof. However, proof is different from concentration. 90% proof is equivalent only to 45% ethanol concentration. So commercial Lambanog is a very weak disinfectant.
According to Dr. Shirley C. Agrupis, Mariano Marcos State University, National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (MMSU-NBERIC) have been working on Lambanog from nipa and coconut sap as raw material for 70% ethanol to equate its efficacy (with scientific data) with commercial 70% ethyl alcohol.
A report by the Inquirer says that the local government of Quezon, the main producer of Lambanog, is promoting the product as an alternative disinfectant. In fact, sales of Lambanog has been on the rise during the past few days.