January 29, 2023

With the easing up of restrictions, the school of living traditions in Benguet has resumed with sebeng-making to jumpstart the program.

The Provincial Tourism Office, Culture and the Arts Council has opened the free training on sebeng or traditional vinegar making on Dec. 17 to 18.

Heather Gate-Dizon of the PTO and who oversees the SLT programs, said the event is the first to be pursued since the pandemic started in March. 

She said the event, with its 15 slots, has now been filled with students eager to learn from the cultural masters in sebeng-making led by Joseph Judel Banizal and Hazel Bastian from the municipality of Kabayan.  

The training will be held at the newly-opened Provincial Indigenous People multipurpose building in Wangal, La Trinidad.

Sebeng, is the Ibaloy for homemade vinegar drawn from sweet potato or camote commonly practiced in Itogon, Kapangan, and Kibungan.

Dizon said they have limited the participants in accordance to the health protocols.

According to the Heirloom Recipes of the Cordillera Book published in 2019 by the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights and the Partners for Indigenous Knowledge Philippines, to make sebeng one would need one kilo camote, water and a bottle.

The peeled camote is placed in a pot with water and boiled for 20 to 30 minutes. Once it is boiled, the camote is set aside or served while the remaining liquid is set to cool.

Once the liquid is cooled it is then transferred to the bottle, where it is set aside to be fermented for at least two weeks to be ready for use.

Sebeng as a traditional vinegar could be used to preserve sili (pepper) as well and is said to be more potent than the sili preserved in commercial vinegar. Traditionally, elders recommend it as a drink for those with stomach ache according to the book, which is a collection of 100 indigenous recipes from the region.

“More training will be held next year such as the kinuday (smoked pork)-making and weaving,” she said.

Other interested participants may contact the Benguet PGO Tourism Facebook account or email [email protected] for more details for upcoming training on traditional and cultural activities, as they are on a first come first serve basis. – Ofelia C. Empian