AT LEAST 11 FILIPINOS DIED AFTER DRINKING BOOTLEG COCONUT LIQUOR
By Susan Lewis
Source: Liliw Municipal Government, Laguna Province
At least 11 people have died and more than 300 others are treated in hospital after drinking a traditional coconut liquor in the Philippines.
According to local media reports, some of the victims were celebrating Christmas in a party where a local drink called lambanog was consumed.
The outburst occurred in Laguna and Quezon provinces to the south of Manila.
People started to fall ill last Thursday. When fatal cases emerged, Laguna's Mayor Vener Munoz in Rizal urged affected people to seek medical advice and more people had been admitted to hospital.
Lambanog is a traditional Filipino liquor distilled from coconut or nip palm sap and has been aged for at least 48 hours.
It is the poor men’s drink in the country and is commonly described as "coconut wine” or “coconut vodka" due to its clear to milky white colour.
Lambanog has a very high alcohol content of 40 to 45% abv, it is usually served pure, though traditionally it can also be flavoured with raisins.
Lambanog production was traditionally centered in the southern Tagalog region. The current main producing areas are the provinces of Quezon, Laguna and Batagas where coconuts are a dominant agricultural crop.
Quezon is the leading producer of lambanog, hosting the three largest lambanóg distillers of the country: Mallari Distillery, Buncayo Distillery and Capistrano Distillery.
Most lambanog producers are small-scale cottage industries with only around 4 to 25 employees.
Unregistered lambanog production is illegal but still very common. The government has repeatedly warned consumers to only purchase lambanog that is properly sealed and made by registered companies.
Local media reported that 21 people died after consuming lambanog last year.
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