SEVEN groups which are involved in one way or another in hot chilies have now formed a formidable front under the umbrella of what Ponchit Ponce Enrile started in 2014 – ChiliHeads Philippines which staged with much fanfare the first Chili Festival that year. They have formed a federation.
The seven groups include Chili Growers Philippines, Philippine Hot Sauce Club, Sili Wars, Ka Sili, Dabawenyo Capsicum and Labuyo 100. The federation counts on a membership of close to 19,000 strong and still counting.
The CHILI GROWERS PHILIPPINES is the biggest growers’ group today with more than 11,000 members nationwide. It hosts the pod tasting session during the annual Chili Festival. They also host the Chili Pods Arrangement Competition during the same event. They meet every 3rd Saturday of the month at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife par tea house in Quezon City
The PHILIPPINE HOT SAUCE CLUB is composed of 5,000 processors both artisanal and commercial, including a few exporters as well as hot sauce enthusiasts. They hold monthly hot sauce parties featuring their Table of Fire. They are the hosts of the Hot Sauce Competition during the annual Chili Fest. The Table of Fire features tasting of different hot sauces, depending on the theme. In the annual Chili Fest, they feature all the hot sauces available from members with about 100 brands and 300 variants.
SILI WARS is a chili growing challenge group that conducts growing contests such as the first to fruit a labuyo plant in an egg shell; first to fruit a chili plant in a Spam can, etc. It also hosts the chili plant competitions during the annual Chili Fest.
KA SILI is a group of growers dedicated to Super Hot chilies. They have over 1,000 members.
MINDANAO CHILI GROWERS is a group of over 1,000 Mindanao growers and hot sauce makers. They are less than a year old but are now in the final processes of turning their association into a cooperative.
DABAWENYO CAPSICUM is a new group composed of 300 growers and hot sauce makers. They have opened their full-size hot sauce store in the heart of Davao City.
LABUYO 100 is the most exclusive club of chili fanatics in the country. Membership is strictly by invitation held at various Chili Meets of sister organizations wherein one has to eat 100 labuyo chilies with a prescribed amount of food and not drink any liquid whatsoever for ten minutes after the 100 labuyo have been ingested. They have less than 100 members.
What lies ahead for the members of the federation? Enrile is really upbeat about the future of the chili industry. He dreams of making it an honest-to-goodness industry that can provide livelihood opportunities to a lot of Filipinos, including the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs. An even bigger Chili Festival than the one held in 2018 is being planned in August this year. (ZBS)