THE bittersweet scent of sikwate and chocolates wafted against my face as I pushed open the door of Cacao City – a one-stop shop for Davao City’s cacao byproducts.
Davao City, the home of the Philippine Eagle, durian, and waling-waling, had since worked hard to be recognized as the cacao and chocolate capital of the country.
With Malagos Chocolate, one of the pioneering chocolate processors in the city, being able to recognized worldwide now, the craze and the interest of Dabawenyos for authentic chocolates and sikwate had been stirred awake.
As different brands of local chocolates started to emerge and be available in posh packaging, the Dabawenyos soon learned that the chocolates readily available in supermarkets are chocolate-flavored candies and not chocolates. Dabawenyos learned that chocolates are supposed to be bittersweet and that’s what makes it good.
In Cacao City, as one enters, they are welcomed by displays of local chocolates with labels stating how much percentage of dark chocolate was used. Every item on display has small trays for samples just so the customers can have a taste of the variety of every homegrown chocolate.
It was in October of last year when Cacao City opened its doors to the public. Managed by different cacao processors in the city who formed the Cacao City Marketing Cooperative, the shop now displays different brands of homegrown chocolates, tableas, cacao nibs, and so much more.
Tourists and Dabawenyos alike can choose from the different cacao byproducts offered by NutriRich Philippines, Sikwate Organic, Malagos Chocolate, Cacao and Beyond, Cacao de Davao, Davao Artisanal Chocolate, Rosario Davao, Chocolate de San Isidro, and Wit’s Sweet and Savories.
During a media visit at the shop, Cacao City Marketing Cooperative managing director Wits Holganza shared how so many healthy snacks can be made from the different products available in their stores. As the owner of Wit’s Sweet and Savories specializing in cacao nibs and granola, Holganza made us taste granola with fruit bits sprinkled and arranged beautifully over fruit-flavored yoghurt. The yoghurts came in mango and mango chili. The cold, smooth texture of yoghurt well complemented the crunch and tang of the fruit and the granola, not to mention that the mango chili yoghurt has its own friendly tang as well.
Holganza also made us taste Sikwate made from Rosario’s tablea. One is supposed to smell the aroma first before tasting it. She said each tablea in the shop has their distinct tastes. Usually, the customers, especially the first timers, tell the store staff what kind of tablea or sikwate drink they are looking for. They describe the taste ideal for them and the staff would recommend them a brand suited for their taste.
Located just beside Pasalubong Center, Cacao City has since attracted Filipino tourists coming from different parts of the country. But aside from this, Dabawenyos themselves had learned to love local chocolates and had been the choice of appreciation gift for their visitors as if to say these chocolates are the city’s pride. True, no one can really go wrong with a bar of authentic chocolate most especially when planted and processed by your fellow Dabawenyos.