Four people died while three were taken to hospital after drinking native palm wine “tuba” in Brgy. Upper Omon in the town of Ragay, Camarines Sur.
The victims were identified as Armando Diaz Ollano, 56, Reynaldo Diaz Ollano’s brother, 63, Bertito Recomanta Casitas, and a man named Belen. The other three Maribel delos Santos, 50; Adriano Balmes, 44; Doroy de Torres and Rodolfo Abellada, 53 were being monitored at the hospital.
According to the report, the victims went to have fun and drank tuba made from Buli Palm at around 2 pm on Thursday.
However, all of the victims suffered from abdominal cramps, dizziness, vomiting the following day. Hence, their relatives rushed them to various hospitals in Naga City, but the brothers Ollano, Casitas, and Belen died.
It was learned that the tuba they had been drinking from Buli Palm was possibly contaminated with poison from the “bayate” vine that wrapped the body of the palm.
It is believed that the poison of the “bayate” went to the extracted palm leaf resin.
Drinking Tuba in the Philippines
Tuba is a Filipino alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm trees. During the Spanish colonial period, tubâ was introduced to Guam, the Marianas, and Mexico via the Manila Galleons.
They remain popular in Mexico, especially in the states of Colima, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Guerrero. Tubâ was also introduced to the Torres Strait Islands of Australia in the mid-19th century by Filipino immigrant workers in the pearling industry.
Tubâ has existed in the Philippines since pre-colonial times. They have widely consumed for recreation as well as play an essential role in the animist religious rituals presided by babaylan shamans.
Early Spanish colonizers reported heavy consumption of tubâ and other alcoholic beverages in the Philippines. Social drinking (tagayan or inuman in Tagalog and Visayan languages) was and continues to be an essential aspect of Filipino social interactions.
There have been few cases of tuba poisoning in the country, but many were recorded dead for drinking another locally-made Filipino liquor “lambanog” (coconut wine or vodka).
In December 2019, at least 11 people died due to lambanog poisoning, while 300 were hospitalized.
“Lambanog poisoning is caused by residual methanol, which in high levels becomes highly toxic for humans. Methanol is a naturally occurring substance present during the distilling process, that should be separated and removed thereafter,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.