The contest held yesterday morning at the Bulusan Auditorium was not the usual contest. It has the simplest rule however- to open 100 pieces of the stone-hard shell of the pili i.e. pili nut shells, ‘lagting’ in the dialect within the shortest period of time and retrieve the precious pili kernels still intact.
I waited in anticipation as the participants mostly women lined up their tools : a simple bolo, a ‘tuktokan’ of sturdy wood.
Twelve women of different ages representing their villages whacked the pili nut shells in rhythmic movement and sound that lasted only for a few minutes after the go signal was given.
As I predicted, the contestant from the village with the most number of standing and oldest pili trees finished first.
Kristina Freo, 35, from the village of Santa Barbara finishes off first at the speed of 5 minutes and 14 seconds for the 100 pieces of pili nut ‘lagting’.
In a real ‘tiriladan’ (the local term for pili de-shelling) setting, she can finish 2 to 4 Bmeg sacks of pili nut deshelling job in a day, she related to me after the contest.
Bulusan is the highest Pili nut producing municipality in the Province of Sorsogon and most probably in the entire region/country. Total production is more than 714 tons of pili nuts per year according to the City Planning and Development Office of Sorsogon City. This comprises more than a third of the total production in the province.
Note: In a briefer about the Pili Industry in the Bicol Region, the Department of Trade and Industry 5 (DTI) emphasized the importance of skilled pili nut de-shellers. It reads: “Retrieving a perfect Pili kernel requires precision only human hands can deliver.”
Recommended read about a Pili confectionery maker in Bulusan: http://pamughaton.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/paradulsi/
Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines