A FIRST IN LEYTE AND SAMAR
PALOMPON, LEYTE – Fisherfolks, fish and meat vendors, vegetable growers and even “sub-zero” beer drinkers in this town have a common reason to rejoice.
This week, the town inaugurated its cold chain facility consisting of a simple stainless steel shed and a Filipino invention, the Brine Immersion Freezer, brought to them through the efforts of Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez and town officials led by Mayor Ramon Oñate.
The town is the first recipient of five such freezers to be distributed to fishing towns in the province of Leyte.
The Brine Immersion Freezer is part of a national cold chain program of the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension. It aims to provide fishing towns and cities of the technology to be able to preserve their goods in faster but economical way, so that supply of fish and vegetable will stabilize, and result in better prices for consumers.
The freezer was invented by a Filipino, Engr. Hermie Decena. It is economical to operate as its electricity requirements are very low compared to commercial “blast” freezers, and guaranteed to last long when operated properly.
In a demonstration on the freezer’s capability, it was shown that the fish, vacuum packed meat and veggies, even beer, can be “frozen” or chilled in just a few minutes. It can also double as an ice-maker.
Two big fishes were immersed for around 30 minutes and came out rock-hard. It reportedly could be kept in a well-sealed Styrofoam container for the next two to three days without ice. It can simply be thawed if to be cooked already.
A case of beer was also immersed for less than 10 minutes, and it was already “sub-zero” and almost frozen at the end of the demo. It was served to the guests by lunchtime.
Mayor Ramon Oñate, in his speech, said he welcomes the grant of a freezer to his town, saying he sees this as an opportunity for the prices of fish to stabilize in their parts. He said that if in the past, fishermen and vendors have to sell their excess catch elsewhere because there were no cold storage facilities available, this time they can quick freeze their excess catch and save it for the lean days.
This way, he pointed out, the town has a steady supply of fish at more stable prices. As to how much the town would be charging for the quick freezing, he said he will be sending someone over to Candelaria, Quezon City where a similar machine has been in use for a time already. “All we have to do is observe their operations, copy their ordinance, fit the fees to local standards and that’s it”, he said.
He also lauded the congresswoman for her fast action on giving the town the freezer. “Wa gyod ta nagsayop pagpili”, he said, “ang atong congresswoman gwapa na, kugihan pa gyod”, taking note that Gomez had only been in office for four months only but has already been able to bring the town some concrete projects and programs.
Lucy also won by a large margin in the town over her closest rival, Winnie Codilla, whom she routed by 24,701 votes.
Mayor Oñate also plans to buy a machine for vacuum packing, this time for the meat and vegetable vendors. Before meat and veggies can be subjected to brine immersion, it has to be vacuum packed, it was learned.
For her part, Cong. Lucy Gomez exchanged praises with the mayor, saying she could not have done it without the heartfelt enthusiasm of the mayor in coming out with the needed counterpart. The machine, worth P4.6-million, will only be released to target towns once they have their sheds forming their counterpart.
Mayor Oñate, Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez said, moved fast. “Kung naay Isang Linggong Pag-ibig, mao na kini. Usa ra ka semana, nahimo na ni Mayor ang gikinahanglan na shed ug nakomplete ang mga required nga papeles”, she noted.
The congresswoman also wistfully said that she hoped other mayors in the district would be equally cooperative to her programs. The Palompon mayor is the only mayor of the 4th district allied to Gomez.
The congresswoman also took the chance to “report” on what she has done for Palompon, so far. She announced to the audience that even if she was only congresswoman for barely four months, she has already a major project for the town with the approval of the construction of tourism facilities in its identified tourist spots like Tabuk and Kalanggaman. A major component is a tourism center with rooms for guests and visitors. The project is now ongoing.