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    Fancy giving Theo and Philo Adobo, Siling Labuyo, and Barako chocolates this Valentine’s Day?

    Fancy giving Theo and Philo Adobo, Siling Labuyo, and Barako chocolates this Valentine’s Day?

    Go for Davao’s premium chocolates this Valentine’s
    Do you want to give—or receive—something traditional with a twist on Valentine’s Day?

    Why not try artisan chocolates flavored with siling labuyo (hot chili) or a hint of adobo? Weird but true, but more importantly still, delicious and locally made.

    Set aside those famous American, Italian and Japanese chocolate brands this Valentine’s and look to those labeled Malagos, Coco Dolce, Cacao de Davao or Theo and Philo, which are bravely and innovatively going head to head with established and imported sweets this season.

    Carried by a number of specialty shops like ECHOstore branches across the country, Filipino chocolates hold several advantages over the imported kind.

    Philo Chua founded Theo and Philo with the aim of bringing Philippine artisan chocolates to the world market PHOTO FROM ECHOSTORE

    Philo Chua founded Theo and Philo with the aim of bringing Philippine artisan chocolates to the world market PHOTO FROM ECHOSTORE

    As ECHOstore co-founder and The Manila Times columnist Chit Juan enumerates, “Rather than buy the usual imported chocolates, Filipinos must try our very own. With these choices, chocolate lovers can get the freshest ingredients—like the cacao—in the purest form possible. Moreover, our own chocolates use less sugar and preservatives, making them healthier options too.”

    Topping the list of premium Filipino chocolates is the sought-after Malagos Chocolates from Davao. Its proud tagline for their products as stated in their website is “from tree to bar.”

    “Malagos has a big processing center in Davao where chocolates—from the cacao bean to the finished product—are made all in one facility. They also have live cacao trees in their farm so [their products are]really a tree to bar experience,” shared Juan who us just as proud to carry the famed Davaoeño brand in her stores.

    Malagos only has three varieties when it comes to chocolates—100-percent pure unsweetened, roasted cacao nibs, and Malagos’ most popular 65-percent dark chocolate.

    Davao’s Malagos Chocolates are produced ‘from tree to bar’

    Davao’s Malagos Chocolates are produced ‘from tree to bar’

    In terms of their chocolate-making process, malagoschocolate.com relates: “Malagos Chocolate uses a ball mill that can grind beans up to 25 microns, a quality often sought in the production of fine chocolates. Precision-controlled roasting makes sure the beans are heated to the correct temperature, preserving their aroma.

    “The tempering machine used to mix Malagos Chocolate makes sure the temperature-sensitive chocolate mass is further improved with the process of proper tempering, rendering it smooth, with that desirable gloss and firm snap.”

    Coco Dolce by Freefood Coconut Manufacturing is a brand that also hails from Davao. Just like Malagos, the company makes its own bars straight from cacao beans. However, the company is unique because it is the first in the country to use low-glycemic, organic coconut sugar as a sweetener together with virgin coconut oil. They source these ingredients via fair trade in Mindanao communities.

    Presently, Coco Dolce offers three kinds of chocolate: 65-percent dark, milk chocolate, and milk chocolate with pili nuts. Besides these, they also produce other forms of cacao like tableya, powder and nibs.

    Proof yet again that Davao is home to the finest cacao beans in the country is Theo and Philo Artisan Chocolates. The brand was founded by Philo Chua when he moved back to the Philippines from the US. Even before coming home, however, he already thought about the absence of Philippine-made chocolates in the international market despite the fact that cacao trees grow best in temperate climates.

    Suffice it to say, the man had a vision all ready to pursue the moment he arrived, thus the birth of Theo Philo in 2010. As planned, he sourced his cacao from Davao, while obtaining his sweetener from Bacolod, Negros Occidental, also known as the sugar bowl of Philippines.

    Chua went beyond the usual kinds of chocolate in the market, and concocted uniquely Filipino chocolate flavors like Labuyo, Barako, Green Mango and Salt, Adobo and Ginger Mint, along with regular ones like Polvoron Pili and Pinipig and Turon.

    With these deliciously healthy, and definitely one of a kind, homegrown chocolate variants, who can say giving chocolates for Valentine’s is unexciting?

    The ECHOstore is a popular source for organic and natural products—from food to skincare—all proudly made in the Philippines.


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