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Cigars from the Philippines

The tobacco industry has taken root in many countries around the world, particularly along the equator and in warmer climate conditions. Among the areas that cultivate tobacco and that have been cultivating the plant for centuries is the Philippines.

Initial Popularity

When the Spaniards came to different areas of the world, the Philippines proved challenging. Trading with the locals was hard at first, but tobacco became a popular plant to the locals and forged the way to new cultivation.

Magellan brought tobacco to the Philippines and it gained popularity with the locals shortly after it was discovered. It even forged the path to opening up trade with Mindanao, which was an Islamic island that held the Spanish colonists in contempt and did not like the settlers.

Challenges to Tobacco

Although tobacco was popular in the Philippines, the Hapsburgs and the Bourbons nearly strangled the trade in the 1700s, when the Spanish government took over the monopoly on tobacco and extended that monopoly into the Philippines.

The Spanish royalty began putting severe restrictions on tobacco trade. The restrictions made it hard for locals to obtain or use tobacco, which caused discontent among the local peoples.

As the discontent grew, the Catholic church was encouraged to get involved in the situation. The church encouraged the locals to show homage and respect to the Spanish royalty to help reduce the growing tension.

Since tobacco was popular, the Spanish maintained the restrictions and hold on the Philippines. Because of the insistence on maintaining a foothold in the Philippines, Spain took on financial losses.

Smuggling and the End of Spanish Rule

Spanish rule in the Philippines ultimately came to an end because of the popularity of the tobacco trade. Philippine tobacco was a popular commodity and smuggling the tobacco for high prices was common. Locals were not able to afford the tobacco and the illegal trade became a common practice in the Philippines.

Because of the popularity of tobacco in the region and other countries, tobacco was often used as a trade commodity and was sometimes used instead of local currency for goods and services.

The tobacco monopoly from the Spanish government was officially abolished in 1881. After it was abolished, a cigar company called La Compania General de Tobaccos de Filipinas was established. The company developed factories and has retained leadership in the development of cigars in the Philippine Islands.

Popularity of Philippine Cigars

As the company established factories and produced cigars with the name La Flor de la Isabella, the popularity of Philippine cigars increased. The tobacco company made efforts to establish a new monopoly over the tobacco and cigar industry within the Philippine Islands and was met with a large amount of success over the years.

For 100 years, La Flor de la Isabella was a popular cigar brand that maintained a solid reputation and developed some of the best cigars in the industry. The company did take a hit in the 1980s and 1990s because of a reduced ability to reach a large market and because of poor reports about the cigars. In 1995, changes were made to the floundering company to try keeping it afloat and re-establish the good reputation that it saw in previous generations.

After the bump in the road, a large portion of the company shares were purchased by shrewd businessmen from Asia. Roberto Ongoing and Robert Kuok took on responsibility for the company, and they have taken steps to re-establish the company as a leader in the cigar industry.

The Philippines have the ideal climate to produce high quality tobacco that is rolled into great cigars. Although the industry has faced problems, its cigars are making a comeback as new measures are taken to fix past mistakes.