When I was young, breakfast during summer vacation at my mother’s side of the family in Nueva Ecija would not be complete without gatas ng kalabaw (fresh carabao’s milk). First heated on a stove, we would have it poured over a bowl of warm rice and eaten with a dash of salt.
I only got to see the entire process of milking a carabao quite recently.
The Philippine Carabao Center – Ubay Stock Farm (PCC-USF) located at Lomangog, Ubay, Bohol breeds carabaos (water buffaloes), not primarily for meat consumption but for milk production. They advocate a shift in the common perspective. Instead of breeding for the slaughterhouse, they expound that carabaos are more valuable alive in the farms as work companions and as a source of milk. This is a considerable feat as a majority of Visayans are not milk drinkers.
According to Dr. Gundolino Bajenting, a veterinarian who has worked with PCC-USF for a number of years now as Supervising Agriculturist, the Department of Agriculture chose Ubay as a location for PCC-USF because it had 4,500 hectares (11,120 acres) of land there, the largest and oldest government livestock facility in the Philippines established in 1921. It is also one of the accredited livestock technology training facilities for Visayas and Mindanao.
At the facility, carabaos are artificially inseminated as it takes quite some time if they wait for the livestock to mate. Artificial Insemination (AI) allows the agency to cross-breed in order to produce the best stock that would give high-yield and high quality milk.
Young calves are weaned from breast feeding to drinking milk on their own a couple of weeks after birth. The calves are fed milk by hand. The fingers are used to simulate the teats as the calves suck milk from pails and buckets. In a few days, they are able to feed on their own. This is quite safe as only the lower jaw of carabaos have teeth. The sucking of the finger produces a ticklish sensation at most.
This allows the milk to be harvested manually or by a machine. Average yield per carabao is 4.5 liters of milk per day. This can meet household requirements and also provide extra volume for sale in dairy enterprises. A carabao’s pregnancy is usually 9 months long. During the first 7 months, with proper nutrition and monitoring, carabaos may already be milked. In the last 2 months of their pregnancy, they are not milked in preparation for birthing. A native carabao may then be milked daily for 240 days after giving birth.
Information Officer Leinefe B. Libres of the PCC – USF says that at the Bohol Dairy Outlet Store
(https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009385008574), carabao’s milk may be bought raw, pasteurized, or in flavored varieties of chocolate, mango or ube. It is made into milk pastillas, yoghurt, ice cream, and other delectable pastries and breads.
Carabao’s milk is curdled to make white cheese (kesong puti).
Meet CB (Cross Breed), official mascot of Bohol Dairy.
In preparation for a bid to become known as the Science City of Bohol, Ubay has lined up other viable projects and government agencies to showcase the best of its municipality. These include
photo credit: Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap
- Ubay Green Park and Techno Center. Formerly an open dumpsite, it was converted into an ecological facility that promotes recycling, organic gardening and beautification. The park was launched in 2013 and managed by Riche Cutamora Ibale, Eco Solid Waste Management (ESWM) manager.
- Bohol Experimental Station. The Integrated Agricultural Research Center of the Department of Agriculture in Central Visayas, it is the national lead agency for the planning, coordination, implementation, and monitoring of all rice research and development activities in the Philippines.
- Capayas/Kapayas or Banana Dam. One of the largest dams in the province and located alongside the main Ubay-Alicia-Guindulman Highway. Completed in December 1991, it irrigates 750 hectares (1,900 acres) and serves 688 farm households. In 2011, the Department of Agriculture seeded the dam with 30,000 Tilapia fingerlings as part of their sustainable food security program.
- Sinandigan Multi-Species Hatchery. A fishery infrastructure and mariculture park established to enable the fish farmers to become totally independent from wild stocks and to promote a more stable food security for the province. The facility is producing fingerlings of various fisheries products such as, but not limited to, milkfish (bangus), groupers (lapu-lapu), and siganids (kitong, danggit). It also houses a seaweed tissue culture laboratory which aims to rehabilitate quality seagrass planting materials using tissue branch culture, spore shredding and callus cell culture. It is supervised by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and inaugurated in April 2011.
- Cambugsay Healing Hills. Located in Brgy. San Pascaul, you come into a large body of water which forms the Malingin Dam. The place is an open invitation to paddling (bugsay) and kayaking. The surrounding hills have a calming effect on the senses. There is a coffee plantation in the vicinity that produces “robusta” beans.
On most evenings, the downtown parking area is converted into an al fresco barbecue food park called Sky’s the Limit complete with acoustic performances by some of the town’s local musicians.
In olden times, the term ‘ubay-ubay’ or ‘alongside’ became the byword of inhabitants and traders who used to travel along the shorelines of Ubay to avoid the strong current of the famous Cunigao Channel.
In the hinterlands, native folks followed a single trail to the town center to trade. This trail was located alongside (ubay) the sandy beach. The term ubay became the name of the municipality.
Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Ubay Municipal Mayor Constantino Reyes, Municipal Tourism Officer Ma. Antonietta Acedo, Municipal Information Officer Larry Evangelista, and the accommodating staff of the Philippine Carabao Center – Ubay Stock Farm who facilitated our media coverage of Ubay.