The Batak settlers in Sitio Tagnaya, Barangay Concepcion are appealing to the city government to authorize them to transport and sell almaciga resin or “bagtik” outside their village to earn extra income.
Martin Gupo, a Batak chieftain, said Tuesday that at present they only sell the almaciga resin to local buyers within the barangay for P20 to P50 per kilo.
He said the income they are getting by selling the non-timber forest product to those who only come to their village is not enough anymore to put food on their table.
Gupo said without the permit from the city government, they cannot even control the price of the almaciga resin.
He said “bagtik” is the primary source of income of their tribe.
“Ang hiling lang namin sa city government ay sana bigyan kami ng permit para makabenta at makapagdala ng mga bagtik sa bayan. Sa ngayon kasi may mga kumukuha lang sa amin dito tapos sila na ang nagbebenta sa bayan. Kung kami na mismo magdadala doon baka mas makakatulong sa amin ‘yon kasi pwede na namin makontrol ang presyo,” Gupo pointed out.
(Our request is for the city government to give us the permit to bring and sell them to the center of the city. Right now, there are buyers who come here and they sell them in the city. If we are the ones who will bring them ourselves, that will be a big help because we can control the price.)
In 2017, the Centre for Sustainability (CS) launched the Almaciga Reforestation Project in the Batak Tribe Center, aiming to increase the number of almaciga trees in the tribal lands in the city to raise their income.
The CS gave 10,863 almaciga seedlings to the tribe from grants extended by the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation Incorporated (PTFCFI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), and other agencies.
Gupo said they have to wait for the maturity of the new planted trees before they can harvest.
“Yong mga hina-harvest namin ngayon ay mga matatanda na po na mga puno, maganda naman ang produksyon ng bagtik sa amin at natutulungan talaga kami kasi ‘yan naman talaga ang hanap-buhay namin. ‘Yong mga bagong tanim namin papalakihin pa bago namin kukunan [ng dagta],” he said.
(The trees where we are harvesting are now old, but production is still good and is helping us since it is our main livelihood. The new trees will have to grow more before we can collect the resins.)
Almaciga is one of the primary sources of income of the Batak tribe in northern Palawan with its large market as it can be used in the manufacture of varnish, soap, paint, printing inks, and shoe polish.
Local residents use it as torches, fuel, sealing substance, and mosquito repellents.