REGION I- Ilocos Norte
SAN FERNANDO, ILOCOS NORTE – Aside from being an enduring symbol of Filipino-Hispanic relations, the Philippine tobacco is also considered one of the best and healthiest by connoisseurs all over the world.
Manila Cigars Inc. continues to produce world class cigar, particularly “Flor de Filipinas”, which can be comparable to the best Cuban cigars.
This tobacco blend, grown and produced from tobacco plantations in the northern part of Ilocos, also defines a large part of Filipino tradition and culture, according to Filipina Asido, sales executive of Manila Cigars.
“Tobacco symbolizes Filipino triumphs. Even the process of making it is characteristic of our Inang Bayan,” she says. Flor de Filipinas is also handmade giving its blend superior quality.
The arduous process or peeling, rolling, binding and wrapping the finished product requires enormous discipline, this in turn determines the quality of how every stick of tobacco would taste, she explains.
Manila Cigars has been exporting these local tobaccos to international markets since 1996. Its steady demand does not bother local producers and in fact, this proves the competitiveness of local products in the global market.
“Our tobacco is highly comparable to Cuban cigars. It is at par with international brands, because even Filipinos abroad patronize it,” says Asido, adding that though the seeds come from Cuba, how it is grown locally is what gives it its world-class quality.
Unlike the mass produced and nicotine enriched cigarettes in the market today, she says local tobacco doesn’t contain the harmful nicotine and is proven to be an effective medicinal relaxant.
“Once you start smoking the regular cigar, it’s hard to quit. That’s why even doctors recommend local tobacco as alternative to regular cigars as this aids a chain smoker to gradually quit smoking,” says Filipina.
From the more affordable Flora de Filipinas, which costs 160 pesos to the most expensive “Antonio Jimenez” tobacco that costs more than 200 pesos, Asido says the tobacco industry is still seeking support from the local market despite its stable following abroad.
“Like any other local product, our local tobacco also needs the support of the Philippine market,” she adds.
She points out that competition is “tight” internationally, but Philippine tobacco will remain one of the country’s best export products.