DAVAO City is more than just durian, the Philippine eagle, and Mt. Apo, even if you throw in the Euanthe Sanderiana or waling-waling. There's just many things that is happening in Davao City, it will require more than a day to explore.
But here's one more in Davao that you should never skip -- the Malagos Chocolate Museum inside the Malagos Garden Resort in Baguio District, Davao City.
Philippines is now closer to the world's chocolate map as the first and only chocolate museum in the country opened on Wednesday, March 8 at Malagos Garden Resort, Calinan, Davao City.
Malagos Garden Resort managing director and museum principal designer Charisse Puentespina told reporters that the museum intends to establish the country as a premium cacao grower and a chocolate producer.
"It has always been our advocacy to educate and share our experience on cacao-growing and chocolate-making to the public," she said.
The 230-square meter museum is built around the Malagos chocolate factory, where visitors can witness and experience the chocolate maker’s “tree to bar” concept.
Charisse shared the tree to bar experience is something that Dabawenyos can take pride in.
“Where we plant is just across the resort, how it was harvested, the factory is just within the area. So in terms of traceability, you really are sure about what you are eating. Our chocolate is single-origin,” she said.
Single-origin means, all the beans come from Davao. Malagos Chocolate is 100 percent pure all natural fine flavour chocolate that is truly "tree-to-bar."
The Puentespinas grow their cacao in a 30-hectare property just across the 12-hectare resort that is an accredited wildlife farm, hosting butterflies, indigenous birds and other species as well as a collection of flowering plants, orchids, fruit trees, and ornamental plants.
What’s inside the museum? Everything inside the museum will, in many ways, enable any visitor to appreciate more locally-produced chocolates.
With a resort entrance fee of P200 per head, one can truly enjoy and learn the company’s tree to bar concept, the journey of Malagos chocolate through the years of chocolate-making from year one, and world’s chocolate chronicles.
Visitors can also get a quick lecture about the global chocolate industry where it is shown that Philippines is among those countries that are located within the world’s cacao belt.
Also, visitors will be taught of how to taste the chocolate, how to test its quality, and how to distinguish the kinds of chocolates (from dark to milk chocolate). At the end of the tour, visitors can have the opportunity to make their own chocolate for a fee of P400 per 250 grams.
A perfect idea for all the chocolate lovers. “We are hoping it can be interactive, learning is not necessarily through books but more on experiences,” Charisse said.
In developing the cacao industry here, Charisse shared that a collective effort of all chocolate makers and cacao growers is needed. Malagos is encouraging more farmers to venture into cacao because there is big global demand to be filled.
“Through this museum and to all we are doing, we are up for an active campaign calling those interested to grow cacao and make a fine, quality product out of it. With a bigger voice we can help make Davao’s chocolate known locally and internationally,” she said.
Quality cacao, chocolate Elder brother Rex Puentespina, chocolate maker and head of Sales and Marketing of the Malagos Agri Ventures, said they were able to produce 50 tons of chocolate bars last year.
“With our products, 70 percent of it is marketed locally while the rest goes to exports,” he said. Malagos’ export markets are Japan, Singapore, and United States of America. They are looking toward Europe as another export destination, particularly London.
Malagos chocolates have received international awards, the latest of which was a two-star out of three rating at the 2016 Great Taste, the United Kingdom’s “Oscars” of the food world. Other awards were from the Academy of Chocolate, also in the UK, a silver in the World Drinking Chocolate Competition in Germany last year, and an Asean Best Food Products in Singapore in 2013.
To further develop the Malagos brand, the group is currently meeting the requirements for the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification and working on acquiring a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certificate.
Aside from that, they intend to apply for an ISO Standards certification “to ensure the business delivers a consistent level of quality by having well-defined and regularly reviewed processes and procedures.”
At present, Malagos is being supported by a team from University of the Philippines-Mindanao in controlling the bean quality and fermentation, which are among the critical processes.
Before, Filipinos keep on patronizing "imported chocolates" believing it has better quality than the local. But gone are those days, thanks to the local chocolate industry prime movers like the Puentespinas who are doing their best for Philippines to land a spot in the world chocolate map and agriculture scene.