Pharma taps Aeta farmers for ginger oil

Katinko, a Filipino brand of essential oils and ointment, not only relieves muscle pain and itchiness. It also soothes Aeta farmers in Tarlac by providing them with livelihood opportunity and steady source of income.

The indigenous people from Central Luzon don’t sell self-care products of the Quezon City-based Greenstone Pharmaceutical HK Inc. They grow and supply the gingers that the company turn into Katinko oil and ointment at its Cavite plant.

Loida Punzalan, a leader from the Aeta community in the municipality of Bamban, explained the benefits as Greenstone’s business partners during the launching of the Katinko K-Essentials, a new line of ginger-derived products, at Robinsons Magnolia in Quezon City on 13 March.

Yung alam lang namin ‘yung pagdidikdik at pagpapahid-pahid. Nung nagawa nang oil ‘yan (luya), mas tumingkad kung papaano mong posibleng (gawing) gamot,” (The only thing we know is crushing and rubbing. When it (ginger) was made into oil products, it became clearer how you could (turn it into) medicine.) Punzalan told the DAILY TRIBUNE.

Talagang ang ginagawa lang namin noon pangsabaw lang tsaka ‘yung pangdikdik at pagpahid. Wala kaming alam. May mas higit pa palang maganda epekto itong luya namin.” (The only thing we used to do was to make a soup, besides crushing and rubbing. We didn’t know that our ginger even has better effects.)

Punzalan added, “Ikalawa, kumikita ‘yung katutubo natin. Ikatatlo, dahil kumita sila, malaking tulong ‘yun sa kanila, dahil yung pang-araw-araw na pamumuhay nila natutugunan.” (Second, our tribe earns money. Third, because they earn money, that is a big help to them because their daily needs are met.)

Sustaining communities 

Melissa Yeung-Yap, CEO of Greenstone, said the company’s goal is not just to create products but also to help sustain communities.

“We want to help sustainably because we really believe in their products. So we use our strengths, which are from the pharmaceutical companies, (such as) chemistry, science, and design. It’s just really like a celebration of culture and Philippine artistry,” Yap said.

“K-Essentials is not just a brand. It transcends the very purpose of enhancing our well-being,” said K-Essentials representative Ken Clemente.

“Using nature-based products from our farmers and our local communities, we are transforming them into thoughtfully crafted products that are designed to make everyone feel good each time you use K-Essentials; it’s not just you benefiting,” he said.

According to Clemente, conceptualizing K-Essentials began in 2020, and now they aim to introduce their high-quality products.

“Before, nature-based products could only be bought from foreign brands. So now we have made them accessible for everyone. Our priority is for every Filipino to experience the benefits of the natural products that we have,” he added.

Punzalan encourages Filipino consumers to buy the essential oil product to help the Aeta community and cause them to value their land more.

‘Before, nature-based products could only be bought from foreign brands. So now we have made them accessible for everyone.’

Mas higit sana lalo nilang bilhin ‘yung aming product para ma-maintain namin siya. Hindi lang iisa o dadalawa ‘yung bibili. Kung marami ‘yun, lalong magsisipag si katutubo at lalo niyang pahahalagahan ‘yung lupa,” (I hope they will buy more of our product so that we can maintain it. Not just one or two people who will buy it. If there are many (buyers), the natives will work harder and appreciate the land more.)

Besides the Tarlac Aeta, Greenstone also partnered with T’boli weavers from Lake Sebu in South Cotabato in creating the travel pouch for the product.

K-Essentials offers six specially-crafted massage and body oils — Focus, Refresh, Revive, Relax, Uplift and Detox. One set comprising the six variants is priced at P500.

The products are available through online shopping applications, all Katinko kiosks in shopping malls nationwide, and through and