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LET’S DO IT TUGI-THER. We shall take the group to Balungao, Pangasinan too to engage in a TUGI effort, this to help a distressed farmer named Div Gasiano. For those members who do not know what Tugi (Asiatic Yam) is, it’s a type of wild yam that grows only in certain mountainous parts of Pangasinan.

It’s also the delicious stuff of my Pangasinan childhood. My grandmother Catalina was an expert in preparing Tugi and we kids were experts in eating it. The way she would do it is to boil Tugi in a blackened clay pot, always a clay pot. She’d throw a pinch of salt in with the Tugi, and a pinch of salt on the lid. Don’t ask me why the lid, she insists it’s important. She’d test the Tugi with a few jabs of the fork. When it was soft enough, she’d take the Tugi out to cool. We kids would set upon it, peeling the papery skin off with cautious fingers. Tugi tastes best dipped in white sugar or brown. Even more delicious if you have crushed jaggery. Dip and bite, cold or hot. It makes me feel happy, my memories of this food.
It makes me happy to have the ability to help to his Tugi farmer. Perhaps my childhood Tugi came from this same farm, grown by Div’s father. It’s a dry and hilly patch of land, this family farm. Not even cassava, not even bamboo, they have tried growing it with no success. It’s just this yam Tugi that has sustained them, even if poorly. The land has nothing like a natural body of water like streams and the nearest irrigation project is miles away. For many years they have been dreaming of a well but there has never been money to do it. It’s just them and this Tugi. And how unfair is this, for us to learn that traditional buyers are still able to take advantage of the situation by offering to pay less—take it or leave it. And when they decide to take it, they deduct the price of transport from the bill. Div attests to this himself and it makes me so indignant to hear this. How could they do it.
As much Tugi as Div can dig up—and later as much as he can grow—we’ll take it. Right price, cost of transport on us, that’s how we’ll do it. Let’s do it Tugi-ther?

TUGI GROUP BUY. We are looking for Rural Rising members to join a Tugi Group Buy. Support Teddy’s trip to Balungao, Pangasinan with P300 and when it gets back, get 3 kilos of freshly-dug Tugi. Founder Members get 4 kilos.

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Weight 3 kg


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