Silk Reeling, Mulberry Picking and the Silkworm Challenge at OISCA Bago Training Center

There are three things to put in mind when planning your visit at OISCA Bago Training Center.

Silk reeling or raw silk manufacturing, mulberry picking,  and taking the silkworm challenge.

These are what we had experienced from our visit in the sericulture facility. Thus, we highly recommend this day tour to anyone who will be visiting Bacolod in the near future.

Read on to find out more about our educational and fascinating tour at OISCA Bago Training Center.

OISCA Bago Training Center in Brgy. Tabunan, Bago City is a 26-hectare farmland that plays a major role in our country’s silk industry. This training center is funded by OISCA (Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement) International, a Japan-based non-government organization.

Most quality silk yarns are produced from this facility. Since 1999, the year it was inaugurated, this training center is supporting the livelihood of many local farmers.

OISCA-Bago Training Center is known as a silk reeling plant and a sericulture facility. Silkworm rearing, or sericulture, or silk farming, is the process of cultivating silkworms to produce raw silk. In this humble facility, you can watch and learn how world class silk yarn is made.

OISCA Bago Training Center
OISCA Bago Training Center office

At the start of the tour, the guide explained the silk making process with these silkworms as models. These wiggly creatures are domesticated silkworms with scientific name Bombyx mori.

silkworm in wooden tray

Silkworms in this wooden tray are for presentation purposes only. Visitors are not allowed to visit the actual rearing area where silkworms are cultivated. In the rearing area, certain conditions are met such as controlled temperature and humidity.

silkworm eating mulberry leaves

According to studies, Japanese scientists have found out that silkworms are attracted to mulberry leaves because of a chemical fragrance known as cis-jasmone. The mulberry leaves emit a small quantity of this jasmine scented chemical which serves as an attractant to silkworms.

These silkworms can turn mulberry leaves into silk because these leaves are the primary food source of silkworms. Without the mulberry leaves, silkworms cannot produce silk.

The silkworms, after days and nights of eating mulberry leaves, will eventually stop eating and start spinning cocoons on racks or frames. They will secrete liquid protein from their salivary glands to form the cocoons. Then, the cocoons are harvested and turned into silk yarns.

Mulberry leaves play an important role in a sericulture facility which is why OISCA Bago Training Center has its own mulberry plantation on site.

mulberry plantation in OISCA Bago

After the brief description of the silk making process, we were led to the actual silk reeling facility. This is the OISCA SIlk Reeling Center.  “Silk reeling” means the process of manufacturing raw silk from the cocoon.
OISCA silk reeling center

The guide showed us these frames with many silkworm cocoons. These cocooning frames along with other tools and equipment (rearing equipment, weaving looms, etc.)  used in the sericulture facility area were actually donated by OISCA-Nagano Japan Chapter to help local farmers improve their silk yarn production and increase silk yarn quality.

cocooning frames OISCA Bago

A closer look at the numerous cocoons to be turned into silk yarn.

cocoons in frames

The life cycle of the silk moth inside the cocoons will eventually end because these are “killed” in the silk yarn manufacturing process. Unlike other caterpillars, they don’t reach their adult phase, meaning they don’t turn into butterflies.

Process of Making Silk Yarn

Boiling of cocoons
Cocoons are put into hot water (with the caterpillar still inside the cocoon) to loosen or soften the silk filament. This process of immersion in hot water kills the silkworm pupae inside the cocoons.

boiling of cocoons

Silk Reeling
While soaked in hot water, the softened long thin thread is unwinded in the reeling equipment.
Trivia: One cocoon equals one single thread which is about 3,000 feet long.

silk reeling

Re-reeling
To overcome silk defects after reeling, silk yarns are reeled on hanks.

Drying, dyeing, and packing
Single threads are combined to form silk yarns. These are dried, dyed, and packed as raw silk. The finished product (raw silk)  is sold to clothing manufacturers to make the best Barong, dresses, and other silk products. Some raw silk is exported to international markets.

Trivia: Percent recovery of quality silk yarn is very small. To produce one pound of silk yarn, about 2500 pieces of cocoons are needed.

raw silk

dyed raw silk yarn

Weaving
Raw silk is weaved to produce fabric or cloth. OISCA-Bago has its own silk weaving center which produces quality silk products from silk yarns produced in the facility.

silk weaving center OISCA Bago
girl weaving

OISCA- Bago Training Center has also a Silk Showroom on site. Established in 2004, the Silk Showroom showcases various silk products such as Barong, dresses, bags, shawls, table cloths, etc.

silk products in OISCA Silk showroom

assorted silk products

assorted and colorful scarfs shawls

The Silk Showroom is one of the best places to buy gifts, souvenir items, and pasalubong. Cellphone charms, small pouches, home decors, woven pouches and wallets among others are available.

souvenirs gift items

They also have organic tea made from dried Mulberry leaves sold for only Php 25 per pack.

mulberry tea

Beauty products from silk cocoons are also available.

beauty products OISCA Bago

To be honest, I bought a lot of these pure silk beauty cocoons which are priced at Php 35 per pack. I personally use these cocoons to exfoliate my face weekly.

pure silk beauty cocoons OISCA Bago

Would you believe that this beautiful flower decor is actually made from cocoons? How creative!

Mulberry Picking

Another interesting activity that we tried in OISCA Bago Training Center is mulberry picking. I have tried strawberry picking in Baguio before and this different berry picking activity was equally as much fun.

mulberries

It was our first time to see and taste a mulberry fruit so the idea of picking the ripe fruit from the tree and eating it immediately made us all excited. Yes, we ate the fruit right away without washing and thankfully, none of us encountered an upset stomach.

The ripe fruit (deep purple color) is sweet and juicy. Mulberries are actually used to make smoothies, jams, wines, and as ingredients for baked products such as pies.

The mulberry fruit stains your hands with blood-red juice, but our guide gave us a little trick – to remove the stain from your hands, get an un-ripe fruit (those with pale pink color) and rub it on the stained part and ….voila! The stain in your hands will be gone in an instant!

ripe mulberries

Take the Silkworm Challenge at OISCA Bago

And last but not the least…. take the silkworm challenge! Include this on your bucket list and try to act tough and hold a silkworm. Others may find these silkworms gross, but they are actually harmless. Trust me. 🙂

TIPS BEFORE GOING THERE
Shoot them an email to schedule your tour to the silk reeling plant. In this way, they will know your preferred date and time including the number of persons interested to visit so that they can assign their staff to guide you during the facility tour.

Do also note that this is an NGO funded training center, so all DONATIONS are welcome. We also bought something from the silk showroom and gave some “tip” as our own way of helping.

OISCA Bago calendar of activities
Can you see my name written on the board?

Opening hours:  8am-11am ; 1:30pm-4pm
Entrance Fee: Php 25/pax
Contact details : +63 034 702 9075 or +639173019017
Email: nspa.oisca@gmail.com

OISCA Bago Training Center is one of the most interesting places we’ve been to. As a family who always travel with a kid in tow, this is an educational travel experience where kids can learn and witness something new and fascinating. Not to mention that you only need 25 bucks to tick off things on your bucket list. Clearly, this travel experience is one for the books.

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