Rock-salt (Asin Tibook) making has been a way of life for many Alburanons since time immemorial. The “asinderos” or “salt-makers” of Alburquerque produce the brand of salt through purification process that makes it one of the best in the market. Laboratory tests revealed that apart from being natural iodized salt it contains various minerals beneficial to human health.
The ASIN TIBOOK industry was flourishing in the 1960’s to middle of the 1970’s and then took a downward spiral. In 1990’s there were only a handful of families engaged in it and by the time the research was conducted in 2007, there were only two active salt-making families in the town of Alburquerque of the more than a hundred families back in the 70’s. None was left in the town of Loay.
However, rock-salt making is a back-breaking job from start to finish. On average, two people working 10 hours a day not counting overtime can produce only 300 pieces of cone-shaped rock-salt in three months. Eventually, many have abandoned the trade for other livelihood instead. Moreover, the younger generations are not keen about learning the trade much less on taking over the industry from their parents. Presently, only three salt makers are left out of nearly a hundred, way back in the 60’s. If and when these three remaining “asinderos”-salt makers retire or are incapacitated, this century-old local industry may eventually be consigned to oblivion.
The danger of the industry become extinct is present and real. It is largely due to the fact that there are no written literatures, manuals, or instructions about process which could serve to preserve it. Everything about the techniques of production from start to finish is learned by word of mouth and perfected through the years of hands-on experience as salt-makers.
Notwithstanding the grueling manual labor, the rock-salt making industry of Alburquerque is certainly worth saving because it is a precious legacy of our forefathers. We want to give a new lease of life to the otherwise dying industry by applying modern technology. Currently, there is rising demand for this kind of salt besides household use. Cattle raisers, farmers, water refilling stations, nutritionists are looking for Alburquerque-made rock-salt. Indeed, there is an increase of market.
Saturnino Balo, fondly called ‘Tan (Kapitan) Inong of Eastern Poblacion, Alburquerque, Bohol had the biggest “kamalig” (salt-making shack and “paril” (soaking pond) in town. Even before the second World War, he was known to produce very good quality Asin Tibook. Before he died in 1965 at the age of 85, he entrusted his ASINAN to Jose Manongas, his son-in-law. Jose, together with his three sons and two daughters continued the back-breaking Asin Tibook production.
Like many children of salt-making families, the desire for better jobs and opportunities took the better of the asin industry. In 1980 Jose fell ill and can no longer work in the asinan. One of his sons named Eutropio or Ropi for short, continued to work in the industry. In 1983 he produced the last 120 units Asin Tibook. Ropi eventually gave up and went to Manila to work as carpenter in a construction firm.
The kamalig (shack) was left to disrepair. Two years later it was destroyed by a strong typhoon. Also, a good amount of big boulders which made up the “paril” were taken away by people. The asinan of ‘Tan Inong ceased to exist.
In 2010 heirs of ‘Tan Inong formed the TAN INONG MANUFACTURING CORPORATION in a quest to revive the Asinan and to save this unique salt-making industry. All the incorporators are heirs (grandchildren) of KAPITAN SATURNINO (Inong) BALO of Eastern Poblacion, Alburquerque, Bohol. All incorporators have first-hand knowledge of Asin Tibook production.
Tan Inong Manufacturing Corporation (TIMCO) is aimed at increasing production of rock-salt in any given time with a significant reduction in manual labor with the use of custom-built machineries and redesigning the production building while retaining the traditional techniques to increase production by at least 300 percent. Custom-built machineries include coconut husks slicer, loader, conveyors, etc. We will also use marine water pressure pump and install piping systems in the production building designed for burning stage. Utilizing machines and equipment while retaining the age-old technique in rock-salt making will save the industry from extinction help the economy of the municipality and improve the quality of life of many people in the town of Alburquerque.
TIMCO management strengthens the linkage with other government and non-government agencies for the development of the salt production. Ateneo Culture and Arts Laboratory conducting research on culture and tradition in Bohol on May 2012 whom they include Asin Tibook or rock salt on their study particularly on product development, packaging and branding and limited market. The TIMCO management is trying to have a scientific study on the uses and the benefits of the Asin Tibook or the Rock Salt for human and animal consumption as part of the organization marketing strategy.
General Operation Manager
TIMACOR – President.