Monday, February 4, 2013


A friend of mine asked me, "Why do they continue to live in stilt houses? Couldn't they live in solid grounds?"

I asked for Doc Anton's help and he  answered: "The Tausug are sea people. Culturally, they are more at ease in water. But are also informal settlers who don't have the means to own property inland. Their main livelihood are fishing and seaweed farming that necessitates them to live near the shoreline."

So I'd like to share on images of Seaweed Farming and Agar-Agar!

The Philippines is considered the  world’s  leading supplier of Eucheuma, comprising about 80% of the total world supply (SIAP, 1996).  In 1990, the country’s total seaweed farm production reached a high of about 400,000 metric tons of fresh Eucheuma seaweeds planted by about 80,000 seaweed farmers/ families. Today, seaweed production and processing have become a high value and profitable livelihood activity in many marginal seafarming communities as well as profitable enterprises in urban centers of the country.  

It is of great demand in the global market due to its diversified uses of carrageenan, which is used as stabilizer, gelling agent, thickener, binder and additive for  various dairy products, cosmetics, pet food, meat processing and beer bottling industries.  Seaweed farming also requires less capital than any other aquaculture species, not labor-intensive and does not need inputs that are potentially harmful to the environment.

The seaweed farms are practically out in the open sea. We passed by these farms on the way to the Layag-Layag Village.
This picture may not be photographically perfect but I would like to show you the expanse of the sea... the paradise of the sea people... their source of work... their life!

The seaweed farm: The sea is dotted by plastic bottles. Oh no! These are not garbage!!!
Here, they are used as buoys and underneath these bottles are the seaweeds, waiting to grow!

Floating Monoline Method 
The floating monoline method has the following advantages over  the fixed, bottom monoline method: a) grazing by bottom-associated animals is minimized or eliminated because the plants are raised out of reach of benthic grazers b) plants near the surface of the water column are exposed to more moderate water movement caused by waves. 

The seaweed farmers:

The seaweeds are harvested:
Harvest after 2-3 months. Take the  whole plants but leave enough for the replanting of new cuttings.  

The seaweeds are brought to the houses:

This is the Eucheuma spp.
The seaweeds are tied into bundles. 
Four bundles would weight about a kilo!
A kilo of seaweeds could be sold for P4.00 OR P1.00 per bundle!
But they could have a thousand kilos or ten thousand kilos of seaweeds per one to two months depending on the weather and other natural factors.

*About 6 kg fresh seaweed  is needed to produce 1.0 kg of dried seaweed with dry weight at 30-40% moisture content (MC). 
**Initial 40,000 pcs. seedlings at 200 grams each will grow to 1,000 grams each after 45 days.

I asked,"What do you spend for?" 
One answered, they buy food from the public market. 
I really thought they just caught fish for their dinners. But, not so...they also ate chicken, sardines, too!
Another answered, we buy clothes from Shoppers'. One even wore the jersey jacket.
Another said, we pay for education like at the Talon-Talon Elementary School!
And, they also try to save about a fourth of the earnings... for a "rainy day"!

Next, the other seaweeds are also tied and ready for the next farming cycle.

The seaweeds are placed in net sacks!

Seedling Bed 
Construct a 5m x 10mx 2 m cage-type seedling bed. Place seedstocks on it before planting. Immerse  it in seawater to prevent from undue stress. 
Seedstock should be planted after a week of stocking. 

I guess, below is their version of the seedling bed!

The prepared seaweeds are then sold to the mainland and there, post-harvest techniques are done.
The seaweeds are dried and salt is placed all over the seaweeds.

Spread the harvested seaweeds evenly on a bamboo platform. Remove other species of algae, “tie-tie” or other extraneous materials like rocks, sands and others. Never dry the seaweed directly on sand to avoid contamination. In the absence of a drying platform, use coconut palms as flooring. 

During sunny days, turn over the seaweeds regularly within two to three days and four to five days when cloudy. When properly dried, Eucheuma has a  rubbery touch [30% moisture]. 

Pack dried materials in plastic sacks and store in a dry  and well-ventilated place. 

The dried seaweeds would now cost about P38.00 / kilo.
Remove other species of algae, “tie-tie” or other extraneous materials like rocks, sands and others.

We now understand a bit, why they would want to continue to live there throughout the year.
This is where they live their lives... their livelihood... and yes, they say continue to stay on even when there are typhoons!


  1. Tausugs are one of the 13 ethno linguistic tribes of Bangsamoro people, like the other basic masses of the Philippine society, they are poor, marginalized, neglected by the government and suffers discrimination
    i am with them in fighting for their democratic rights and self-determination

  2. It's a great place to live in actually. Very relaxing, near the sea and I would bet hardly any stress like us city folk.

  3. Now I know how these seaweeds are being produced and yet these are being bought at very low price.

  4. Sarap ng seaweeds. Grabe, hirap pala nyan i-produce.

  5. The famous agar-agar in ZC. I saw back then in Caragasan.

  6. Such an informative post Ms. Pinay. Now we know how the seaweeds are produce. Not really easy and admire the Tausug people for still producing seaweeds amidst the typhoons every year.

    Mommy Maye

  7. Really interesting way of living. Glad to know they really enjoy their job as seaweed farmers.

  8. when i saw the photo first, i thought it was garbage.. haha it was part of the seaweed farming pala.. cool! i gained new knowledge reading your post :)

  9. ang mura lang pala, pero pag binili mo na sa manila it would cost around P100/kg

  10. What a remarkable story... I had no idea about the amount of work that goes into harvesting and packaging seaweed. TY for this one.
    BTW, I forgot to add my blog to this week's bc list, a visit would be appreciated.

  11. very informative, now i know how seaweeds are produced

  12. ..a really easy and enjoyable read. Great pics!

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