Farmers generally referred to the native breed as carabao, while buffalo meant the purebred and crossbred.
In the burgeoning carabao-based industries in the country, the public is also treated with the name gatas ng kalabaw (carabao’s milk) and gatas ng buffalo (buffalo’s milk) and karne ng kalabaw (carabao’s meat) and karne ng buffalo (buffalo’s meat) offerings.
“There’s really confusion about this animal as we go on with our carabao development program,” said Dr. Arnel del Barrio, executive director of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) during a briefing-media- public forum here Friday. “We discussed about it last night and we agreed to promote only one name, kalabaw for the Tagalog term and carabao for the English name,” he added.
He referred to an executive meeting of the directors of the regional centers and other key officials of the agency.
They gathered for the observance of the agency’s 22nd founding anniversary last Friday.
For centuries, the name of this animal that prevailed in the country in English was “carabao” and for its Tagalog term, “kalabaw”. The confusion, however, came about as the Philippine Carabao Act of 1992 came into effect and the PCC started promoting the Carabao Development Program (CDP).
The program bannered the upgrading of the breed of the native carabao, which is of the swamp-type, thru the infusion of the breed of the riverine-type, which of dairy-meat-type. This saw the appearance in the hands of the farmers of the hulking, dark-colored and curled-horned riverine type animal.
That’s when the farmers started referring to the native carabao as “kalabaw” and the riverine- type as “buffalo”.
PCC’s published description of this animal indicated that the water buffalo is classified into African buffalo and water buffalo. The African buffalo has one species while the Asian buffalo has three, one of which is the Philippine pride, the Tamaraw, which is endemic to Mindoro Island.
Of the Asian buffalo, the Indian wild buffalo has been domesticated and found its way in many Asian countries, including the Philippines.
It was of two types, the swamp-buffalo which is generally known for its draft power abilities and the riverine-type which is of the milk-meat-type.
The buffalo that was brought to the Philippines was given by the local as “carabao”which could be from the Malaysian and Indonesian name “kerbau” for the animal whose adopted Visayan or Cebuano term was “kerbau”.