My Elemi Tapping Trip in Sorsogon

Photo credit: Aldin Navarra

Last September, I went to Bicolandia region to finally experience Elemi (Canarium ovatum) tapping in person. This trip has been a long time coming–perhaps it’s been three or four years in the making!

My friend Aldin hooked me up with Sir August, president of Albay Pili Stakeholders Association (APSA) and Albay Pili and Cacao Industry Association (APCIA), and organized this trip for me. It was a three-day adventure in Bicol and Sorsogon to check out the Pili farms and the century-old Elemi trees in the region.

First we went to Gubat, Sorsogon to check out the wild-harvested Canarium ovatum trees. We met up with the locals to show us around. The families living in this area utilizes these Elemi and Coconut trees for their daily sustenance.

In this trip, I was joined by Engr. Genesis Fabia, whom I met through one of our online lectures for Alliance of the Philippine Aromatherapists (APA) as he is one of the few micro-distillers of Elemi essential oil in our country.

We took time to drop by the local government office of Sorsogon as a courtesy call with Kuya Arnold, one of the Pili cultivators in Albay, Bicol.

After our courtesy call with the Sorsogon LGU, Sir August took me around the vicinity and met with one of the Pili product producers Glenda Esperida, owner of Earth+Scent. Glenda is an advocate for socially responsible stewardship as she focuses on the use of Elemi in her handcrafted beauty products while providing educational trainings on sustainability for the locals in Sorsogon.

Next stop is this private 8-hectare Canarium ovatum farm, which is home to numerous centuries-old Elemi trees. Unfortunately, the owner was not around so we weren’t given the chance to see Elemi distillation while we were there but the farm itself is truly a sight to behold.

After our itinerary, we had a little time to go around Sorsogon and checked out their tourist spots. This is the newly built coliseum–I was told that the official name hasn’t been finalized yet.

I would like to take this chance to thank Aldin for organizing this trip; to Engr. Gen for taking time to fix my schedule and make sure I’m getting the most out of this trip; to Tita Helen, Engr. Gen’s mom, for taking the day off to drive us around Sorsogon; to Sir August for being super game in taking TikTok videos with us–this trip wouldn’t be as memorable as it has been without each of you. I hope to see you again soon!

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