By: Bee Jay Tolentino*
My curiosity about this tultul, a hard, brick-like, grayish piece of salt brought me to Barangay Hoskyn, Jordan, Guimaras. Barangay Hoskyn got its name from the Hoskyn Brothers- Richard Franklin, Herbert Peter, and Henry. These Brothers owned large portions of land in that area in the late 19th century. Interestingly, these brothers were also the nephews of Nicholas Loney, the first British Vice-consul of Iloilo.
For everyone’s knowledge, tultul is commonly used as a viand. Hot cooked rice and utan ( Vegetable soup ) are its best meal partners. Also, it can be used as a salt alternative.
In Hoskyn, I met the couple Serafin and Emma Ganila. Both are 57 years old and are the only ones left producing the tultul in Guimaras. According to Tyay Emma, tultul making has been a family tradition. Both couples learned the craft from their parents. “Tultul making was our main source of income and in fact, it helped us finance the studies of our children.”says Tyay Emma.
Oftentimes,according to Tyay Emma, they could not meet the demands for tultul because the process involved requires a lot of patience and hardwork. Another reason for their low productivity is that they can only produce the tultul within the months of December to May. They don’t produce the tultul during the rainy seasons because according to them,the fresh water content in the sea during the rainy seasons is high. This lessens the saltiness of the tultul and makes the tultul soft. Also, the Ganila couple can only manage to produce a maximum of 4-5 baretas of tultul per week. One bareta of tultul measures about 12 x 14 x 3 inches. Another possible factor which contributes to their low productivity is that they lack proper facilities and equipments. Most of their facilities and equipments are improvised.
Let us now proceed to the different steps involved in making this tultul. I wasn’t able to see the actual process of making this tultul because it was in August when I conducted this search and as I have mentioned earlier, they only produce the tultul within the months of December to May. Anyways, I’ll just try my best to narrate to you the steps in making this tultul.
The first step is the gathering and burning of these so called rorok-these are driftwoods basically composed of pieces of woods, bamboos, twigs, and coconut husks brought to shore by the tide. The first step alone lasts up to 5 days. The ashes of these burned rorok are gathered and are put into kaings- these are cylindrical containers woven from bamboo strips. A minimum of two kaings of rorok ash are needed before proceeding to the next step.
The ash-filled kaings are then placed on an elevated bamboo platform. Sea water would then be poured into the kaings to wash down the salt content of the rorok ash. A pail is placed underneath these kaings to catch the strained water dripping from it. The strained water is then transferred into 5 tin containers made from used cooking oil cans. Gata or coconut milk is then added to the strained water to make it mananam or savory.
This liquid mixture is the main ingredient for making the tultul.
The third step is to cook this liquid mixture so that it would become hard. The five tin containers are placed above an improvised outdoor kalan or stove. The cooking process lasts for about six hours or until the mixture hardens. When the mixture is hard enough, it is then removed from the fire and is allowed to cool inside the house. When the hardened mixtures are cool enough, it is removed from its tin containers.
The outer part would be then scraped off in order to clean the hardened mixture. This hardened mixture is the tultul. A bareta of tultul when bought directly from the makers costs for about P500. At the market this bareta of tultul will sell for about P600. Small pieces of tultul ( 2 x 2 x ½ inch ) can be also bought at the San Miguel and Jordan public markets in Guimaras for P10 each.
As I bid the Ganilas goodbye, Gilbert, one of the couples’ children and the one who served as my guide handed me a cellophane. I asked him what was inside. He smiled and said “ Pasensya guid meg, amu nalang ni ang bilin eh, base sa enero pa kanu liwat makahimu sinday nanay kag tatay.” ( My apologies my friend, this is the only one left. Nanay and tatay said that maybe their next production would be in January.)
I’ll never forget this experience. Natultulan ko na ang tultul. I hope matultulan man sang Guimaras government kag matagaan man sang importansya si Nong Serafin and Nang Emma Ganila, the last of the tultul makers.
Manong Serafin Ganila and me
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I’m Bee Jay Tolentino a business administration student at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, college of management. I am from Guimaras,the home of the sweetest mango in the whole whole word. Drawing, Singing, and playing the guitar are my hobbies. For your comments and suggestions, you can E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org