SBS language | Rediscovering cinnamon in the Philippines

Find golden opportunities

In 2017, November Canieso-Yeo, founder of Plantsville Health, had around 50 cinnamon trees remaining. Thanks to funding from the local government, they were able to plant 14,133 seedlings in 2019.

In the Philippines, there are around 19 endemic species of cinnamon. “Magellan and his men found a tree in Mindanao that locals called it caiu mana, caui meaning wood and mana meaning sweet. “

Strong points

  • Tina started her blog in 2017 sharing ideas and lessons learned from her little organic garden at home, what super foods to plant to maximize her limited space.
  • His first cinnamon tree was planted in a half-barrel container
  • 2021 celebrates 75 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Australia

Melbourne-based botanist Dr Augustine Doronila adds that “History tells us that Spain became interested in the Philippines as well because of cinnamon. At first, the value of cinnamon was equivalent to the price of l ‘gold”.

During the Spanish period, finding cinnamon was like finding an oil field, known as gold dust from Europe says social entrepreneur November Canieso-Yeo. Her interest in organic farming led her to explore cinnamon-based products.

Cinnamon like Tree of life

Durability. In November’s Canieso-Yeo of Plantsville Health, Tina wanted to help local farmers create sustainable livelihoods while breaking the cycle of environmental degradation.

“Maraming reforestation projects in the Philippines, but what I noticed was that it was not sustainable. By working with the local farmers, I realized what they have, they are going to use it to be able to support themselves. “

It was his interest in Kaningag, Filipino cinnamon which led her to do more research, she adds “they did not know that the Philippines Kaningag is cinnamon, their only way to earn was to burn it to make charcoal. I looked at products that can use cinnamon, we started with the bark. “

Like the coconut palm, the cinnamon tree has many byproducts like Philippine cinnamon coconut sugar, Philippine cinnamon bark chips that are usually boiled for tea and drunk as a natural remedy for several ailments like the indigestion.

The expertise and advice of Dr Augustine Doronila of the University of Melbourne was essential in the development of a hand sanitizer with cinnamon and lemongrass.

N Canieso-Yeo / Plantsville Health

Maximize the cinnamon tree

“We found ways to use the bark, but not the leaves sayang naman (such a waste).”

Always determined, she began her research and discovered that the leaves can be distilled. “We sold cinnamon oil as an essential oil, it was a success!” Tina said.

However, Tina adds, “Hydrosol or aromatic water was not as popular back then.”

She has had to get rid of her supply or all her efforts will be in vain. She had aroma water tested and found that it killed 83% of germs, but when she sold them as disinfectants, people were looking for disinfectants that killed 99% of germs.

It was during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 that Tina had the opportunity to work with Melbourne-based scientist Dr Augustine Doronila, asking for her help in formulating a cinnamon-based hand sanitizer.

Another opportunity for growth

In January 2020, Tina joined a group of social entrepreneurs, in an “Impact Boost Camp” as part of the Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP) project, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Program ( UNDP) in the Philippines and the Philippines. Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev), and funded by the Australian government.

This gave her the opportunity to increase the production of her cinnamon-based hand sanitizers with funding from the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, she was able to purchase a larger still.

Social Entrepreneur, Organic Farming, Australia Funded Projects, 75 Years of Relationship with Filipino Australia, Filipinos in Australia, Filipino News, Hand Sanitizers, COVID Pandemic

Ninfa Benitua and her family. NInfa runs 350 farmers’ federations in the town of Don Salvador Benedicto, province of Negros Occidental.

N Canieso-Yeo

At present, Tina plans to expand her market overseas. Everything is still in the exploration and research phase.

“I would really like the Filipinos to know that we have cinnamon here in the Philippines and possibly bring the cinnamon industry back.”

As she grows her business, she says, local farmers who once burned cinnamon trees for charcoal are able to see how many products can be produced from the tree itself.

“It will encourage them to plant more trees.” The support from Dr. Augustine Doronila, scientific advisor to Plantsville Health, is far-reaching, says Tina.

“The more products we develop, the more farmers are encouraged. After confinement, I was able to go up to the mountains and show them the products. They were so amazed. Madami pa lang pwedeng gawin sa dahon na iyon. ‘


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Edward K. Thompson