THE conduct of the first, second and third Philippine Coffee Conferences in Baguio City is definitely an activity to beat in as far as the beverage industry is concerned.

I also take pride in saying that I was part of this historic undertaking and as among the pushers of Baguio-Benguet as the Coffee Capital of the Philippines.

Prior to the holding of the tri-conferences, there were preparatory programs initiated by my office, the Department of Trade and Industry-CAR such as the Coffee 101 and Barista 101 where stakeholders in the region engaged in coffee farming, processing and manufacturing as well as those engaged in coffee shops had a learning processes from basically “bean to cup”.

We even had dialogues with coffee entrepreneurs, beverage connoisseurs and baristas at the University of Baguio (UB) Hotel and Restaurant Conference Hall and coffee branding and design workshop for Cordillera participants with Japanese experts as trainers.

As early as 2007, Dr. Joachim Voss of the Centro International de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) had an interaction with coffee growers from the Cordillera at the Benguet State University and he stressed that there should be a good partnership between government agencies and the private sector in order to achieve good dynamism in the coffee industry. I still remember him saying something like the potential is there, the will is there, the expertise is there, but the question now is putting all these effort together.

In 2012, the state university conducted a Coffee Fiesta with Pacita Juan of the Philippine Coffee Board and experts from the High Value Crops Development Program of the Department of Agriculture.

In 2013, we had DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo visit a coffee roasting facility in Barangay Balawag of Tabuk City and it was there where I first witnessed mechanized coffee roasting out of the shared services facilities (SSF) that my office deployed to partnering cooperatives.

During our coffee familiarization tour for media also in Kalinga, we had Manila Bulletin Agriculture Section Editor Zac Sarian whom I rubbed elbows with and shared stories that also saw print not only in his section but also for the Agriculture Magazine that came out in 2014.

Our interaction with Manila based writers like Precious Leano and pool of correspondents resulted to good publicities especially that I requested two tattooed elderly ladies whose pictorial became the bannering news photos by the photojournalists in our team.

In our Coffee 101 and Familiarization tours, we hopped from one farming community from Magallaya Mountain along the Mountain Province-Kalinga highway traversing the mighty Chico River.

In Sagada, I learned about the coffee cupping process from the demonstrations of Japanese cupper Hirofumi Yamamoto and the arts and crafts of being a barista from Susan Edilo, Manila based trainer and Gemma Ngelangel of Goldfish Café located in Bontoc.

Out of the dozen photos that I submitted to MB Editor Sarian, the photo of me on the act of laying red coffee berries for sun drying unexpectedly appeared at the front page of the 2014 Agriculture Magazine.

The first and second coffee conference was a well-planned activity engaging stakeholders and the government and the third or recent one is the pinnacle for such an event that top-bills the DTI and DA in tie up with the steering committee that composes the Philippine Coffee Council.

May I, at this point, thank the students whom we tapped as promo-models, the working secretariat who helped me in my role as committee chair for promotions and publicity and friends in media who provided news coverage of said event.

I’d like to personally thank Dean Melanie Rulla-Saro of the UB School of International Hotel and Tourism Management and students Raven Tacnigan, Maria Angelica Albano and Rhyza Gayle Dangiwan Litaoen wh posed with Leo Balagot of the Bureau of Plant Industry for our pre-activity promotions.

We also thank the Baguio City Tourism Office and their student interns from UB SIHTM, SLU, UCU, PWU and BSU for assisting us in the Baguio tour because many participants are first timers in the city.

We also say thank you to the Philippine Information Agency-Cordillera and Helen Tibaldo for masterminding the twin press conferences and by deploying its field reporters and on-the-job trainees to cover our event.

By now, my social media posts are amassing hundreds of likes as we use varied hashtags such as #Coffeeology, #Caffeinated, #AgkapetayoKetdi, #CordilleraCoffee and #Kapetirya aside from the official #PhilippineCoffeeConference or #PhilCoffeeCon3. Thousands of cups were offered to the participants and guests and it came in either plain brew, blended and flavored.

The highlight of the event is of course the selection of top coffee entries from all over the country and it is also interesting to note that the green coffee entry of Oliver Oliem of Benguet which manifested a rosy flavour emerged as the champion for the 2018 Philippine Coffee Quality Competition.

We say, congratulations Oliver Oliem of Atok Coffee Growers Multipurpose Cooperative. With all the aforementioned, I therefore conclude that Creative Baguio and the province of Benguet are now in the best position to claim the title Coffee Capital of the Philippines.