Naga’s Yulaik’s Beverages: The Best Local Fruit Wines in Bicol

Lorna Daud is nearing seventy but she doesn’t look her age. She is a petite but smart, stylish and energetic woman. Most of all she has lot of ideas on how to improve and diversify her products -- the home made wines and beverages she herself concocted using locally available fruits and other food products.

A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration major in Marketing from one of the big universities in Naga, Lorna used to be a vegetable dealer. She supplied Baguio vegetables to big restaurants in the city.

Her Muslim husband Usop was employed at the Naga Airport. Their family owns a seven-hectare agricultural land in Tinambac , Camarines Sur, which was planted with mangoes and other fruit trees. The salary of her husband plus her income provided them a comfortable life and afforded quality education for their two children .

But after the death of her husband, she had to keep herself preoccupied to fend off the loneliness and sense of loss. To while away her time, she frequently visited her farm in Tinambac. She was delighted to see the mango trees already bearing fruits. She became even more delighted as she sold the mango fruits and derived income from them .

But there were times when there was an oversupply of mangoes in the market and the price dipped. Some of the excess harvest were sometimes just left to rot or given away to friends and neighbors.

That was when she thought of processing mango into wine as she is also a wine lover. Thus, the mango wine became the first processed product from her farm. At first her mango wine was intended for family consumption only during special events and as gifts to friends .

A balikbayan friend from Canada, who is into a business of producing urban wines taught Lorna how to improve her mango wine. She then began attending trainings and seminars on wine making and processing of beverages. She was able to obtain a loan from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which she used to buy a machine for wine processing. In addition to her mango wine, she produced Lipote (locally known as baligang), and bignay as wines . What started as a hobby soon became her passion.

With her background in marketing, she focused not only in improving her products but also in improving their packaging. She came up with her own label and brand name - Yulaik Food Products. The brand was derived from the names of her two children Yusuf and Zhulaika. She used not just ordinary bottles or container for her products, but special bottles adorned with abaca fibers or water lily braided stalks that gave her products a unique local touch, and classy and elegant appeal .

Aside from the DOST, she also linked up with government agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which provided her technical assistance, trainings and helped in promoting her products via agri-trade fairs and other special events .

It was through the DA, one of the partner agencies that she was able to join and enroll in was the GREAT Women Project funded by the Canadian government and supervised by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). GREAT Women stands for Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women. It engages government and private sector partners to support women micro-entrepreneurs to improve their products and refine their business ideas.

Her wine collections now include santol, rambutan, lemon grass, malunggay, turmeric, langka, banana, and pineapple. She has also produced vodka using mango, bignay and lipote. Her juice concentrates include: pink lemonade with a mix of camote tops and kalamansi (calamondin); blue lemonade, a mix of blue ternate and kalamansi; and green lemonade, a mixture of malunggay and kalamansi.

She has also a dalandan concentrate. Her other products include: mango puree; and mango sauce with basil leaves. She has also three variants of balsamic vinegar, the very dark concentrated and intensely flavored vinegar, namely: the plain balsamic vinegar; the balsamic lipote vinegar; and balsamic blue mango vinegar. The two other variants are the Lipote doble, a blend of lipote juice and lipote vinegar, and the Mango Sorpreso, a blend of mango juice and mango vinegar.

As most fruits are only seasonal, Lorna has preserved them by processing them into jams or fermenting them into pickles or sauces and making them into dip or sauces like her mango salsa, the rimas plum berries, and pickled santol. She also preserves local raw honey in bottles .

Moreover, she has tried home-made ice cream using vegetables like kalabasa, malunggay, camote, ampalaya, and rimas.

Rimas is a family of bread fruits, which has a creamy flesh. It was the DA which actually encouraged her to go into commercial production of Rimas ice-cream after its Food Laboratory through Arlene I. de Asis, developed a recipe for Rimas ice cream as one of the product development output for its special project on Rimas. Lorna became a partner of the DA in that project.

“This is one way of incorporating nutrients into the food that children love to eat,” she explains. “As we all know children are ice-cream lovers so why not fortify or enhance it with vegetables or fruits, which are rich sources of nutrients.

She has three regular employees and two on call workers usually during summer time when there is an abundance of fruits.

Her products have already been introduced and promoted not only locally but also internationally through her participation in local, national and international expositions like the Food and Beverage Expo (FABEX) and other trade fairs through DA and DTI’s help. The DOST also provided her some equipment . All her products have a Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) certification.

Her products have also been recognized and bestowed awards. In 2012 her products were recognized by the Naga City government through the Mayor John Bongat Award “for excellence in product development and production packaging design in the production of native fruit wines.”

In 2014, her wine collections and beverages were again recognized and awarded as Most Innovative Products during the Bishop Francisco Gainza Agri Fair.

She recently inaugurated a new store for her products.This store which is just adjacent to her house and very near the central bus terminal of Naga City was funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

Although she is nearing 70, she has still so many ideas and plans and she still loves to travel and go places to learn new ideas for her beverage enterprise. For her, it is not really the big margin of profit that matters but the satisfaction and fulfillment she derives.

Have a taste of Lorna’s Yulaik wines and beverages. You’ll surely love them.