While the likes of Cuba and Nicaragua are usually closely associated with cigars, one location that you may not be aware of as a cigar producer is the Philippines. We take a look at the history of the tobacco industry in the Philippines and the type of cigars you can enjoy from one of the largest cigar producers in Asia.
Bringing Tobacco to the Philippines
The Philippines was first introduced to tobacco by Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan in 1592. Magellan acquired 50 kilograms of tobacco seeds from Cuba, which were grown in the Philippines, where the growing conditions were better suited to tobacco than the likes of many European countries.
After Spanish explorers had brought Cuban cigars back to Europe, Spain had a big appetite for cigars, so Filipinos were put to work by Spanish conquistadors producing tobacco to meet the demand. By the 17th century, Philippine-made cigars were being enjoyed in Europe.
Developing an Industry
Eventually, Filipino farmers were able to reclaim better conditions and produce tobacco for their own use. By 1780, the tobacco production was turning into a solid industry in the Philippines, with the development of companies, including Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas S.A. This company, also known as La Tabacalera, established La Flor de Isabela in 1887, which at the time was the largest cigar factory in the world!
Tobacco Produced in the Philippines
Today, there are around 30 tobacco-growing provinces in the Philippines. Here, four varieties of tobacco are grown; the native variant bought over from Cuba, plus Burley, Virginia and Turkish. Now, Virginia tobacco is most prevalent in the Philippines.
Cigars in the Philippines
Cigars from the Philippines can be made with blends of tobacco, or from those grown in the country alone. Generally, a Philippine cigar is light in both colour and flavour, but with a delightful aroma that makes the cigar very pleasing to smoke.
Perhaps more so than other cigar producing nations, the Philippines has many flavoured cigars on offer too, with an interesting assortment available, including cherry, vanilla, honey and chocolate.
One of the biggest differences between cigars from the Philippines and those from Cuba is the price. A Cuban cigar that sets you back about £10 will cost more like £3 for a cigar from the Philippines.
Philippine Cigar Brands
There are a number of popular cigar brands located in the Philippines, including:
- Flor de Filipinas
- Independencia 1898
- La Tabacalera
- Calixto Lopez
- Fighting Cock
Cigar Producers in the Philippines
The main producers of cigars in the Philippines are Tabaqueria de Filipinas and La Flor de la Isabela.
Tabaqueria de Filipinas was only founded in 1993 but has quickly grown to become the largest cigar manufacturer in the country. It employs around 200 people to handmake around 15,000 Philippine cigars a day using tobacco from their plantations in Northern Luzon.
Around 60% of their production is exported around the world, but interest in cigars is definitely growing in the Philippines, as they are starting to be seen as a luxurious lifestyle symbol, so the amount of cigars remaining in the country may see an increase!
If you’d like to discover more about cigars made around the world, then you can check out some of our previous cigar country spotlight guides!
- Cigar Country Spotlight: Cuba
- Cigar Country Spotlight: Dominican Republic
- Cigar Country Spotlight: Nicaragua