Ylang-ylang flowers
Ylang-ylang flowers (photo by Martin San Diego/NPVB)

There’s a pleasant scent lingering in the air when you pass by Anao in Tarlac. The line of ylang-ylang trees (cananga odorata) along the national highway are a giveaway. Their blossom emits a natural aroma that’s both delicate and calming. Lakbay Norte 7 begins the day at the small town of Anao, Tarlac considered as the ylang-ylang capital of the country. Anao started extracting oil from fresh ylang-ylang flowers since 1994. They are dreaming big this year and hope to export more Ylang-ylang essential oil around the globe.

Sorting mature (right with red strips) from immature (left)
Sorting mature (right with red strips) from immature (left) (photo by Martin San Diego/NPVB)

Ylang-ylang Essential Oil

Ylang-ylang are tropical trees native to the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. It was introduced to Anao in the early 1990’s as an alternative form of livelihood. The low-land temperature, acidic soil and sunny weather makes for an ideal climate to grow ylang-ylang trees. The flowers are extracted early morning while fresh. Ylang-ylang peak season are from March to May. Mature flowers are sorted and oil are extracted through steam distillation. The pure essential oil extract are popularly used for aromatherapy, perfumes and bathing products such as soaps and shampoos.

Manual extraction is still used for ylang-ylang production
Manual extraction is still used for ylang-ylang production

I could tell the Ylang-ylang Essential Oil industry here is still at its infancy since there were little info about its medicinal properties. However OrganicFacts cited 8 major benefits of this oil:

  • Antidepressant
  • Antiseborrheic
  • Antiseptic
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Hypotensive
  • Sedative
  • Nervine

Ylang-ylang Essential Oil can also be consumed in a controlled amount to help cure internal infections. Still, contraindications must be observed.

Extraction machine
Extraction machine (photo by Martin San Diego/NPVB)

Meeting Global Demands

Anao as an ylang-ylang capital has caught global attention, unfortunately the small town couldn’t meet the demands at the moment with only a small area is used for growing the tree. Not to mention that the TPLEX project spliced 1.7 hectare of ylang-ylang mini-forest. Their 36 liters of oil a year is not enough. Add to that, most of the process is still done manually which is slow.

However, Anao mayor, Betty Lacbayan, remains positive that in a few years they would be able to deliver. DTI is already helping them by supplying perfume mixers. Independent organization Korean Intellectual Property Office of South Korea helped by providing three extraction machine to improve production capacity.

Our visit to Anao opened my eyes on our country’s potential to be a major producer of Ylang-ylang essential oil. I’m quite familiar with other oils like lavander, peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oil to name a few. Our very own ylang-ylang can be as popular not only for cosmetics but medicinal as well. Hopefully the industry flourishes in the coming years.

For more info on Anao and Ylang-ylang essential oil, please contact Anao Tourism Officer Joey Astrero at+639062007467.

Products using ylang-ylang oil
Products using ylang-ylang oil

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