How Did This Chili Powder Resurrect a Typhoon-Wasted Community?
Ida Damo | Nov 03, 2014
with TheTravelteller Olan Fernandez Emboscado
When Typhoon Pablo wreaked havoc in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley in December 2012, much of the forest, fruit trees, and other crops were beyond salvaging.
Coconut, one of the major crops, takes 5 years before recovering. Majority of the residents had no other source of living. Thus, the re-introduction of a fast cash crop that has been in the Cateeleño’s table for a long time—the red hot chili.
My travel buddy, The Travelteller, Olan Fernandez Emboscado, is a native of Cateel, Davao Oriental, one of the towns hardest hit by Typhoon Pablo. He shares his town’s journey to Building Back Better: Cateel and Dumang Together.
Dumang is the native name for the chili. I said "re-introduction" because Cateeleños have been producing and processing dumang on a small scale even before the storm hit.
After Pablo, it has become a booming industry, and even the neighboring towns of Boston and Baganga are into it now.
New varieties of chili (Scotch Bonnet, Astig, and Pinatubo) have also been introduced aside from the native chili. Chili farms are becoming hot as production time is short.
From Olan’s blog: “200 hills of chili can produce 8 to 12 kilos of chili peppers in a week and they grow and bear peppers for 2 years.”
All the 16 barangays of Cateel are now into chili production and processing and locals have now coined dumang as “Hot Pablo.”
With the Cateeleños' undying spirit and resilience, supply of dumang is now high. Not only do they produce red hot powdered chili, but also dried chili pepper and crushed chili. The challenge now is to increase the demand.
Cateeleños are hopeful that with strong private and public support, the dumang might just be the spice to add more life to a recovering Cateel.
As Olan said: “Building Back Better,” this is the cry of every Cateeleño in our hometown. With the help of the government, the NGOs and the private sectors, our town and our people are moving forward from that monstrous day Typhoon Pablo came to destroy our homes and our sources of living. Call it alternative source of living or even temporary but chili farming – its production and processing – is a great proof that our hometown and its resilient people can rise above the darkest days our lives – proof that we can get through all storms of our lives.
FOR ORDERS AND OTHER INFORMATION, you may call:
- SUBANGON DUMANG MAKERS (Cateel, Davao Oriental)
- Look for Ricky Arisola or Lulu Reyes (0917-498-9273)
How to Get There
The best way to get to Cateel is by taking a bus from Davao City via the Compostela Valley Road or Mati City Road. Buses are on daily schedule located at Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT). These buses are operated by Mallen Express, Lyra Express, Floremel Express, and Bachelor Express.
PAL and Cebu Pacific fly daily to Davao City from Manila and Cebu.