The Bohol House of Ube is a one of those creative offshoots in history whose time has come. Based in the ancestral home of the Luza-Labad clan in Baclayon, this is where the notoriously delectable Mama Nena’s Ube Jam grew into one of the tourists’ favorite pasalubongs as part of the countryside tour from Tagbilaran to the Chocolate Hills. This yummy delicacy made from the purple root crop generations of Boholanos deemed sacred has resulted into the Bohol House of Ube becoming a definitive culinary destination.
Begun as a staple feature of annual Christmas celebrations in Manila, where Boholano couple Juanita Luza and Dionisio Labad migrated in the late 40s, this jam mesmerized the taste buds of family friends who would regularly visit the Labad home during Christmastime expecting the enigmatic purple concoction to enthrall their appetite. The ube jam became synonymous with the Labad family, especially when son theater and musical artist Lutgardo or Gardy began popularizing the product to drama, cinema, and cultural circles. From the 80s, slowly the friendly clientele for the enigmatic ube jam increased. It became a holiday hit.
In the late 90s, Gardy and mother Nena decided to move back to their heritage province. The family continued to supply friends in Manila when December came. Gardy, regarded as one of the instrumental movers for the Cultural Renaissance of Bohol, figured as a major leader amongst others in instituting the first BOHOL UBE FESTIVAL, a multi-sector initiative to memorialize the significance of the Ube Crop and to jumpstart its more scientific production as a potential agricultural industry of the province.
At the turn of the millennium, under the hands of Gardy’s brother Alexander, the seasonal one-product business has become a year-round enterprise with more ube-inspired products, like ube barquiron. The ube jam became known as Mama Nena’s Ube Jam attributed to the recipe originally developed by the Labad matriarch Juanita or Nena, mother of Gardy and Alex. Destiny played a big role. The jam’s popularity coincided with the tourism boom in Bohol in the past decade.
Shortly after the untimely demise of Alexander in 2010, his son Franz Emmanuel committed himself to continue the destined task. He christened the enterprise The HouseOf Ube thus providing his ube products and creations an official home. To his mind this ensures the continuation of a legacy that has unmistakably left unforgettable impression with visitors, patrons, tourists. Franz widened the variety by adding new products still created from the legendary ube crop. He also takes advantage of new-age tools like the computer and the internet. With this new company at infancy stage, his brainchild THE HOUSE OF UBE poses a big challenge.
Franz dreams to promote, preserve, expand the HOUSE OF UBE as a globally competitive venture, because like the generations before him which loved this divine crop, he passionately believes that the UBE is precious heritage which does not belong only to the family, but also to Bohol and the country.