Saka bumili ka ng Ligo

December 26, 2021

Throughout our childhood, how many times have we heard those orders from our parents?

Several politically charged comments have been made about the Tung family who owns the Ligo brand in the Philippines after they sold it to the Po family, who owns Century Tuna. 

Due to their apparent open criticism of the current Duterte administration, politics has been brought into the discussion. Somehow, they thought it was a good idea to incorporate their political stance into their marketing campaigns. The plan alienated a large portion of the demographics who support Duterte.

Duterte’s supporters are predominantly masa, whose grocery list always includes canned goods, so I could not understand why they did what they did.  

It is not surprising that some mocked the company’s sale to the Pos (Century Tuna). I don’t know whether they took a hit from their woke advertisements or if their sales fell so low that they were forced to, I can only speculate.

It is also important to remember that these rich families will not go hungry regardless of whether they sell their company and assets. They will still be rich thanks to their generational wealth. The Tungs family acquired the Ligo brand in the 1950s. Before competitors started to catch up, they dominated (for fifty years) the canned sardine market.

Family memories

It’s not uncommon for me to get caught up in my childhood memories. There are certain periods when you were a child that you just remember fondly.

My father who worked in the middle east used to send us dried grapes made by Sunkist when I was a child. Since I like them and kept eating them, my brother probably would tell me that they’re rat poop. In our family, we’re four boys, me being the yougest, so teasing and bullying were a part of growing up.

Then one day, our neighbor who had relatives from California brought us dried grapes in these small carton boxes that had the Ligo label on them.

My mind is blown!

From then on I knew that Ligo is from California. I would later found out that  they sell canned fruits and veggies, soda, ketchup, peanut butter, luncheon meat and more. 

Here in Singapore, I do not personally buy Ligo sardines (Philippines) because there are better alternatives available, but I do buy other products made by Ligo such as their prune juice and dried grapes. 

A little history

Ligo is a California brand founded by an immigrant, Ezra Battat. Currently, the Battat family still owns and runs the business. 

The Ligo name is an abbreviation for Liberty and Gold.

In the 1950s, Gregory Tung’s trading company and became exclusive distributors. Online comments that they founded the brand are incorrect. 

Another thing that people seem to forget is how the Tung family made the American brand synonymous with the Filipino canned sardines. This is the legacy of the older Tung.

People seem to think of the young Tungs mainly because of their political stance and their marketing. Since it is their business then, they can do whatever they want. I am sure the new owners would not make the same mistake. 

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