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Cacao mix: Art, passion, sustainability

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CEBU CITY — A dance: The graceful, sinuous movement of the hands, as though of apsaras; the cadence at each pound of a wooden pestle on a stone mortar, its musical accompaniment. Whence rises sweet, sweet aroma tantalizing the olfactory sense. 

Art, passion, and sensation blended in – would you believe? – the making of tablea. Aye, that ball of roasted, ground-up cacao beans which, mixed with hot water, makes the all-too Filipino sikwate chocolate drink. But only in the hands of Cebu’s Chocolate Queen – Ms. Raquel T. Choa. 

The Chocolate Chamber (TCC) Café at Robinsons Galleria, Cebu City makes the perfect stage for Ms. Choa’s magnificent rendition of the making of tablea, performed al fresco before visiting VIPs, dignitaries, business groups, media – as in the case of Clark- and Pampanga-based journos last June 4 – and every mallgoer who happens to be by.     

The sampling of the end product – sikwate – in dainty cups is pure ambrosia.   

“The chocolate journey of a thousand miles begins with one cacao step.” So, the TCC blurb imparts. Modesty, mayhaps, held it back from saying: Raquel Choa is the face that launched that journey. Putting Cebu cacao in the world’s chocolate map.  

Beyond that established name, Ms. Choa has moved further with her founding of the Cacao de Filipinas Fellowship toward that singular mission to sustain the cacao value chain in Cebu – all “for the love of Creator, Country, Cacao.” 

Ms. Choa explains the non-profit organization’s goal as embodied in a simple statement that has the making of an article of faith: “It’s all in the B-E-A-N-S.”   

Bridging cacao stakeholders. Empowering farmers. Achieving excellence in cacao production. Nurturing nature and the community. Sustaining cacao value chain. 

To which we all raised a toast of tasty sikwate – Cheers!  — Bong Z. Lacson

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