Last August 2, Malagos Chocolate joined the World Food Expo (WOFEX) at World Trade Center Manila. While there, they launched the Malagos Book of Chocolate, which details the history and process behind Malagos Chocolate, as well as some unique recipes for chocolate lovers.
Many foodies have grown to recognize Malagos Chocolate as the creator of the first Philippine chocolate bar, which they debuted at the World Food Expo back in 2013. They’re known for their unique and delicious chocolate, which is locally grown and prepared “from tree to bar,” and has won a number of awards globally.
Malagos is also a role model for environmental sustainability and business success in the agriculture sector. From its humble beginnings as a cacao grower and chocolate producer, Malagos Chocolate has come a long way with its advocacy to revive the cacao industry in the Philippines.
By conducting environment-friendly operations and uplifting the lives of farmers in Mindanao, Malagos Chocolate has proven that businesses can become economically sustainable by caring for the planet and empowering communities at the same time. Today, it’s set to share the fruit of its 15-year long existence with the rest of the world.
On August 2, the foundation launched the Malagos Book of Chocolate, which sheds light on the brand’s inspiring history as well as the intricate and unique tree-to-bar method it’s known for. It also includes extraordinary recipes that restaurateurs, professional chefs, and even home cooks can follow to make dishes that are sure to whet appetites and excite palates. The launch was done at the World Food Expo 2018 and was led by a panel of speakers.
On the panel were the company’s matriarch and the woman who started it all, Ms. Charita Puentespina; manager Rex Puentespina and his wife Jen; book author Clinton Palanca; food photographer Neil Oshima; and pastry chef Ginnie Roces Guzman, who was responsible for many recipes featuring the famed chocolate. Together, they told the story behind this book that will undoubtedly be part of Malagos Chocolate’s history forever.
It began with Ms. Charita talking about the inspiration behind Malagos and the decision to create this book, saying that they had been in the agriculture sector for over five decades now. She added that her goal in making the book is to uplift Filipino farmers who have the resources and ability to make products that are truly world-class. As she said, “I always wanted to be a nationalistic Filipina. I believed in what our country and people can contribute [to the world].”
Her story began when she and her husband bought their first farm in 1963. At the time, she was assisting her husband in their water drilling business and growing ornamental plants, eventually leading up to growing all the range of Philippine orchids. Her love for nature didn’t stop there, though, as she started taking care of goats and using their milk to produce cheese. As time went on, she finally ventured into cacao.
“By nature, I am a farmer,” she said, “and whatever I see, there’s something there to bring our country and help farmers. The farmers in our area are mainly agrarian reform beneficiaries […] and Davao is a cacao growing place.”
According to her, in addition to the goal of exporting cacao to the international market, they also wanted to rejuvenate abandoned farms and empowering farmers in need of livelihood.
As she said, “Cacao is a much-grown commodity in the world market, and it can bring [the Philippines] to the international market and prove that we have the best also.”
What makes the chocolate so great starts with the bean. As manager Rex Puentespina explained, “It starts with a good bean, good genetic material, terrain, environment, fermentation, nuances and flavor.”
It was this attention to detail that brought Malagos Chocolate to where it is today, and their goal is always to share their story with others so that fellow Filipino farmers may learn from it. Having been accredited by the Department of Agriculture, they often invite farmers to come and visit their farm in Davao, teaching them to plant, graft, take care of, prune, and fertilize their crops. Their goal is for these farmers to go beyond their everyday agricultural tasks and become enterprises.
This goal develops further with the creation of the Malagos Book of Chocolate, which tells not only the history of their own chocolate, but the history of Philippine chocolate as well. Writer Clinton Palanca and food photographer Neil Oshima wanted something personal and intimate, yet not too difficult to get into and learn from. This is certainly something they’ve achieved with the book, which additionally inspires fellow chocolate-makers and agriculture businesses to take on the new industry and compete on the world stage.
Additionally, there’s a wealth of recipes in the book by Ginnie Roces Guzman, which showcase the versatility of chocolate — going beyond the bar and incorporating it into both sweet and savory dishes. Ginnie praises Malagos Chocolate, saying that its earthy flavor matches well even with savory dishes. She adds that while the book is for everyone’s consumption, the recipes are best for home cooks, as they open minds to the many, many applications of chocolate.
Altogether, the book aims to inspire and empower farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs and all others in the agriculture industry to aim for global standards, start businesses in the agriculture sector, and make the most out of the resources our country has to offer. At the same time, it bears witness to the story of Malagos Chocolate and emphasizes that the Philippines and the Filipino have what it takes to be recognized and admired all over the world.
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