Capiz Shell

Ark of taste
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Capiz Shell

Pios, Lampirong

The windowpane oyster (Placuna placenta) – one of the most important fishery products of the Philippines- is commonly known as Capiz. Capiz shells were once a thriving precursor of glass, used to make sliding windows during the Spanish occupation in the 19th century.
Philippine history traces the popularity of capiz shells to the 1860 edition of “Vocabolario de la lengua tagala”, the first dictionary of the Tagalog language. Within it, the entry for Capiz reads la Ventana (Window). During Spanish colonization, churches and homes were built using capiz shells as a substitute for glass. Pre-colonially, seashells were used widely in building weapons, decorating clothing, and trading goods. Nowadays the shells, are used in the manufacture of decorative items such as chandeliers, Christmas decors, windowpanes, and many more. 

The flat shells of Capiz can grow to over 150 mm in diameter, reaching maturity between 70 to 10 mm. The shell is secured by a V-shaped ligament. Males and females are distinguished by the color of the gonads. The distribution of this oyster extends from the shallows of the Gulf of Aden to around the Philippines, where it is abundant in the eponymous province of Capiz. The unique Capiz shells are found in brackish waters. As filter feeders they can clean up to 40 liters/ hour, eating plankton and organic waste from rivers upstream. Making it an important presence in this vital ecosystem. Distribution extends from the shallows of the Gulf of Aden to around the Philippines, where it is abundant in the eponymous province of Capiz. The mollusks are found in muddy or sandy shores, in bays, coves and lagoons to a depth of about 100 m. They have attained the status of a food delicacy among informed consumers and are highly regarded due to their flavour, considered fuller and richer than other cultivated oysters, and described as mildly gamey with a slightly fishy aftertaste. The most common method of eating it either grilled. Its meat can be also cooked in various recipes, even adobo which is a popular Filipino dish and cooking process that involves meat, seafood, or vegetables marinated and black peppercorns, which is browned in oil, and simmered in the marinade. 

The oyster used to be harvested in large quantities and support a shellcraft industry in the Philippines, particularly in Panay Island. But the fishery and the industry declined markedly by the 1990s. Populations have been in decline because of destructive methods of fishing and gathering such as trawling, dredging, blast fishing and surface-supplied diving. In the Philippines, fisheries are now regulated through permits, quotas, size limits and protected habitats. In spite of this, resources continue to be depleted. According to local fisherman, the oyster population in the bay has greatly declined compared to the population in the past.

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Western Visayas (Region VI)

Production area:Province of Capiz