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Bittersweet truth


During our recent trip to Davao, my family stayed at the Malagos Garden Resort. As a chocolate lover myself, I have heard about their chocolates but had yet to try them. Their Koi Café uses chocolates in their beverages and desserts. I like their Cacao tini (a chocolate martini), hot chocolate drink, molten lava cake, tablea cake and ice cream. I can proudly say that our chocolates are at par with those made in Belgium and Switzerland.

The resort also has  the Malagos Chocolate Museum, the first of its kind in the country. I learned a lot about the history of chocolates, the top eight cacao-producing countries, the top 10 consumers and the top 10 manufacturers. It is baffling that the Top 8 cocoa producers — Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ecuador, Cameroon, Brazil, and Papua New Guinea — do not belong to the Top 10 countries with the highest-earning chocolate manufacturers. There is also what they call the Cacao Belt, an area near the equator where cacao plants thrive.

The company started in 2003 when founders Roberto and Charita Puentespina leased farmland in Malagos in the Baguio district of Davao City, where cacao trees were already in the area.

It was only in 2015 when they managed to refine their process of producing quality chocolates.

The company has won several international awards — their recent one was four golds and one bronze at the 2020 World Drinking Chocolate competition in Hannover, Germany, during the virtual Schokoladen Gourmet Festival in October 2020. The company prides itself on having single-origin cacao, which is ethically sourced and adheres to sustainable farming. 

If Filipino consumers patronize our chocolates, we help our farmers uplift their lives. Although Malagos chocolates are expensive, buying them makes us feel good because we are helping our farmers. The altruistic attitude and the good feeling from buying their chocolates will lead to better working conditions and fair payment for farmers while boost our economy. I hope more companies will venture into this endeavor because the Philippines, which is near the Cacao Belt, has the geographical advantage.

Let’s put our country on the world map for producing and manufacturing world-class chocolates.

Alma Maria Jennifer Gutierrez, Ph.D., is a full professor at De La Salle University’s Industrial and Systems Engineering department.

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