Do they make wine in the Philippines?
CTALK - Cito Beltran () - February 3, 2012 - 12:00am

While conducting a team-building program for SAP - Philippines, a top global company that develops business applications software, I struck up a conversation with one of the regional officers who inquired — do they make wine in the Philippines?

What seemed like a simple question turns out to be not so simple. First of all, are we talking about the strict definition of wine? And by whose standards are we defining wine? The French, Europeans in general, or is it in more generalized terms that would include the new emerging producers such as South Africa, Australia and other “Latin” countries.

If it’s grape wine, then I presume that I answered correctly when I said “No” and that some tried up north but failed miserably. According to the people who told me about their attempts, the grapes they had never reached the quality required for stable production, not to mention poor soil conditions, too much rain and high temperatures.

Yesterday afternoon, I received a belated “Happy Chinese New Year” gift in the form of two bottles of “Manny O” wines. The fact that an effort was made to send the gift even past Chinese New Year and that I liked Manny O wines made the unexpected blessing quite special.

As I sat there studying the two bottles and the interesting packaging in the form of a two-bottle box, I could not help think about my answer to the foreigner who asked if we produce wine in the Philippines.

Here in front of me were just two of many other “varieties” or lineup of wine that Manny Osmeña, the man behind Manny O wines, painstakingly “produced” specifically for the Philippine market.

As I recall Manny O telling me once, that the process takes many years, many trials and many considerations. Producing each line or bottle involved many trips to each of the farms and wineries somewhere in Europe. In short, Manny O wines go through the same process as any other label does in Europe, Australia or some other continent.

So I now have a dilemma: does Manny O wines qualify as a “Philippine product” and thereby nullifying my statement that we don’t “make” wines in the Philippines?

Before you start sending me answers to my “stupid question” please remember that I am “wondering” and not debating or starting an argument.

If the entire idea was put together by a Filipino and is marketed in the Philippines doesn’t that make it “Pinoy”? You be the judge. A few years back, I bought an intake manifold for a classic Ford 302 engine for a Mustang fastback. Many people know that the Ford Mustang is as iconic to America as the Stars and Stripes and country music. But imagine how shocked and disturbed I was when I read the stamping on the aluminum intake manifold that said: “Made in China”.

A friend who knew that I was going to write about this topic pointed out that both iPhone and Nokia are heavily dependent on China. My wife pointed out that several car companies are now owned by an Indian conglomerate, while many American BPO companies operate in the Philippines.

So how can we be politically correct about the matter? Is it about location, ownership, and market location or should we simply stop asking the question “Do they make wines in the Philippines?”

No I am not being silly. Rather I am making a point. We are now at a time when production is not confined to environment or location nor should business operations be limited to our nationality or origins. By looking at how things are evolving around us, we can at least show others especially our children to watch their surroundings and the evolution of business and society.

Unlike our elders, we now live in a world where the best education is not necessarily in UP, La Salle or Ateneo. Occupation or earning a living is no longer confined to Metro Manila or the Philippines. In fact it is now more common to hear Filipino trainers or resource speakers doing stints in Hong Kong, Singapore and even the Middle East.

Point of origin versus point of sales is slowly beginning to redefine our buying behavior whether it’s clothes, cars, or shoes, etc. We used to buy in terms of brand relative to a geographic location. But with the redefinition of global trade, your Italian shoes may not necessarily be made in Italy, your German car may be made outside of Germany, and your American clothes are probably made in Indonesia, China or Pakistan.

 All this convinces me that Bob Dylan was being prophetic when he sang ‘the times they are a changing”. Question is, when will the next generation of Filipinos wake up and realize that just like Manny O, we can come up with our own icons for clothes, shoes, furniture. Because we do have our “own” wines and more.

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