Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"From the Land to the Brand to Life. From the Soil to the Soul"

"From the Land to the Brand to Life. From the Soil to the Soul"
This is the mantra of our Chocolate Queen, Miss Raquel Toquero-Choa.

As for our Chocolate Queen, this has been the purpose of what she is doing. Slowly but surely! as she always says. Her dream is to bring the Filipino tradition to the new generation. Bringing Cacao to the table of the Filipinos. 

Our Chocolate Queen giving her chocolate to the child from Balamban.

We call her the Chocolate Queen of Cebu but as she always reminds people, the respect should not stop from her. We should remember the farmers behind her - toiling the land, planting and taking care of the Cacao seeds. Altogether, we raise the Philippine Flag to the whole world.

Cacao Trees

Our Chocolate Queen, Miss Raquel Toquero-Choa very happy to see Cacao trees growing in Balamban

Cacao Fruits in Balamban
The future location of the Cacao Farm

Soon to rise here is the Cacao Farm

         Our Chocolate Queen together with her team doing an ocular inspection of the site.
We trekked, we climbed, crossed rivers and slid through the slippery mountainside. 
And walking her talk, she gathered her team to experience the Cacao farm in the mountains of Balamban. We trekked, we climbed, crossed rivers and slid through the slippery mountainside. We checked the Cacao trees that were planted two years ago. Seeing her return to her home: Nature - made her so happy. I've seen her sing, laugh and dance like a child. She is being authentic when she claims to bring back the Forest.

The group she converged yesterday was consists of representatives from the Management  and Board of FCCT Coop, Vice Chairman of Cacao Council: Sir Edu Pantino, Agri-Business Manager: Clavel Aves, CEO: Nards Sabroso and BOD Vice-Chair: Daling Bargamento and of course the media present documenting the meeting were: the digital storyteller: Aurelia Castro, MyCebu.ph: Marlen Limpag and VP of Cebu Bloggers Society: Glyth Lamprea.

The meeting with the Chocolate Queen.

The meeting was a very humbling experience, sitting down in a banana leaf with dried fish, and corn rice together as our Chocolate Queen encouraged the crowd as she tells them her dream of a Filipino owned Chocolate Factory that will showcase our very own Cacao Farm. It would be an Eco-Tourism spot where people would come to witness how Cacao seeds are planted, pruned and harvest. It will also show the making of Sikwate. It would be a perfect place for nature reflection as villas will soon rise. This would help the people in Balamban especially the farmers.
The Meeting (photo credit to Miss Aurelia Castro)

Our Chocolate Queen, Miss Raquel Toquero-Choa (photo credit to Miss Aurelia Castro)

This is our Chocolate Queen, Raquel Toquero-Choa who is making her stand and starting the work in her own hands. Once a little girl crossing seven rivers just to get to school is now crossing the world with BIG DREAMS but accompanied by faith, prayers and the perfect team who believes in her, we will make this dream a reality. A "paraiso" of our very own Cacao trees.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Story of the Chocolate Queen: Miss Raquel Choa

"Be the Master of your Craft! "

This is what Miss Raquel Choa told me when I visited her in her Casa de Cacao. Listening to her story made me realize that she walks her talk. And this made me believe in her more.

Life is like a tapestry of events that are weaved together for a purpose. Everything that happened and will happen to us will be revealed to us at His perfect time. Everyone has a story to tell.

And one very passionate story that I want to share is the success story of no other than that of our Chocolate Queen.

The Mountains of Balamban
Her childhood memoirs:

The Chocolate Queen, Miss Raquel Choa grew up in the mountains of Balamban. As she recalled, she had to cross seven rivers every day just to get to school with just one cup of “sikwate” in the morning and that could last her the whole day.

As a student, she has the charisma of being a leader. She is used to being the influencer of her friends and schoolmates. She loves dancing, designing and she has always been the top student of her class. Fast forward to the ’80s, she gave birth to her first child when she was 16 and that made her stop college and was at the crossroad of making a big decision. And that is choosing to go with the shortcuts of life or keeping  her dignity and settle to be a “labandera and basurera.” 
Of course, knowing the soulful Raquel Choa, she chose the latter.

Her experiences:

When the time came that she needed to return to Cebu, she tried doing her craft of printing shirts, calendars, organizing events, catering but it lasted short when her cafe was burnt. She thought that was the last of her but she did not give up. She remembered her Lola who makes her the chocolate drink that came from the cacao that grows randomly in the mountains of Balamban.

Her cacao journey started when a friend from Argentina asked her what she can offer that is exclusively available in the Philippines and she can only think of one thing that is very precious to her and that is her “sikwate” drink. Hence, she excitedly introduced cacao to her which gave her the idea that Cacao is the main ingredient of chocolate. 

A cup of Sikwate

The different flavors of Sikwate offered at the Chocolate Buffet

One of the many chocolate creations of Miss Raquel

Dark Chocolate Cake

Chocolates from Tablea
Cacao used for painting

Following her passion:

She started a chocolate buffet at the garage of her house alongside Sir Edu Pantino, a previous professor who believed in our multi-talented Chocolate Queen. He assisted her and became her partner in the business. They called it “Ralfe Gourmet” (a combination of three names of  Raquel, Alfred, and Edu). A few groups of Cebuanos came to know about this newly rising business. They started accepting group reservations and they made sure that they give their clients a real chocolate experience. The chocolate journey includes trivia and history of Cacao which greatly made an impact on their clients; thus, the never-ending return of satisfied customers which kept the business growing.

Because of miss Raquel’s outpouring passion for Cacao,  people came and believed in her. Her love for her Country, the Cacao and her Creator is very contagious. Her story is unstoppable. What is more amazing is that she is able to pass her passion to her children.

Her story continues today. In the year 2016, The Chocolate Chamber was born. 
Miss Raquel Choa was also invited to represent the Philippines in the Le Salon de Chocolat in 2016 in New York. With her in the exhibit, were the famous imported brands like Ferrero Rocher and many more. But this did not intimidate our Chocolate Queen, she started making her chocolate from scratch. From pounding the cacao seeds which created a great impression on the media,  watching her are CNN and the likes. 
She was later on invited to do her first Tedx in Chiang Mai with a 1200 audience. This was not easy for her. Being in front of a large crowd and telling people of her story but she keeps coming back to her purpose of wanting to tell the world of her story about Cacao - The Philippine Chocolate. And that would make her stand out from the crowd.

A lot of invitations, events, and conferences are offered to her but she never forgets her calling, and that is to put her country back to the map again.

Fast forward to 2019, She joined cooperatives and helped international farmers like Indonesia. She will soon be involved in a Cruise Ship and will open to the International Market.

Miss Raquel Choa is a dreamer. She is full of passion. Nothing and nobody can stop her. Her ultimate goal is to bring back the forest. And with this dream, she is doing whatever she can to help the tablea makers of both local and international farmers.

She is an artist. She loves innovating but keeps the tradition as it is especially the drinking of  "sikwate." She wants to pass this on to the next generation so they will not forget their identity.

And If were to answer the question, what made her different from the rest? She is genuinely true and consistent with her passion. She unconsciously brings you to her w0rld and she innovates according to what is needed in this current generation. She can merge both worlds of traditional and new. And keeping the authentic experience.

Keep yourself posted of her future events as she showcases the Philippine Chocolate to the International Market.

Up Close and Personal with the Corporate Chef of Batirol: Anthony Choa

Anthony Choa, 25 years of age, a graduate of Culinary and Marketing. 
The Corporate Chef of The Chocolate Chamber and Batirol. 
He works in tandem with his mom in running the Batirol by The Chocolate Chamber.

How did you discover your love for cooking and baking?
I traced it back to loving the time that I had been baking with my mom since my childhood.

How did the concept of chilled beverages come about? 
Flavored drinks inspired by that thought that it's local and a healthier alternative that's why we came up with cacao because of its health benefits. We used natural essence to trick the palette to thinking that there is a flavor and as much as possible it's healthy and local.

What do you offer in Batirol?
Aside from the delicious Cocoa nibs and cookies. Chilled Choco beverages are now available with the following flavors to choose from: Choco - Mint, Choco -Honey and Choco- Salted Caramel. All made from dark chocolate and all made to support the cacao products of Tuburan including the honey. It also comes from Tuburan to support local farmers.

Why Chilled? 
A modern take as we believe that we want to keep the tradition while innovating. We do not leave tradition because we want to innovate. We want to have our own- Filipino influence, Filipino source and keeping the tradition of "drinking sikwate" as our tradition.

If we do start having add ons in the future,  our standards for choosing our innovation are: it has to be local and has to compliment chocolate in support with Cacao farmers.

This is for Php 185.00
What is the difference between TCC and Batirol?
TCC: is more of taking your time to sit down and enjoy your experience of the ceremony or it is more of creating a great experience in using your senses.
Batirol: is more for the people in the rush or to go but we also want them to enjoy healthy drinks and food.

How did you get ur mom's passion?
I am the third of the eight siblings. My mom has many talents and each one of us was able to get some of her talents. Since we were children me and my mom always bake in the kitchen. It was a practice since I was young,  cooking and baking with my mom. It has been part of my learning experience. 
Our family mantra is, "where you are needed is where you will go. We collaborate with mom and my siblings." 

The Chocolate queen takes care of choosing and roasting of beans. Hannah, the spiller of the beans, takes care of the nutritional side of the ingredients and the understanding of the benefits of cacao. While Anthony handles the making of the food and the beverage.

"It makes me happy to see my customers happy and healthy!", the young and good looking chef added.

Visit Batirol to try these healthy chilled beverages at Robinsons Cybergate from 10am to 9pm, Mondays to Saturdays and 10am to 8pm on Sundays.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu's Day Use Rate

"Give yourself permission to relax," says Dr. Rangan Chatterjee from the book How to Make Disease Disappear.

People nowadays are the busiest and they easily feel stress with their work, with their relationship, and coping with the fast speed life. Definitely, we need to tone it down and relax.

The Beachfront of Dusit Thani

 Imagine this beautiful scenery: 

You, sitting down on a reclined beach bench on good weather while sipping your favorite cold drink, excited to plunge yourself in the cold infinity pool while watching the birds flying over a beautiful white sand beach.

Why not give yourself this beautiful experience? At Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu, you can avail of  Dusit’s day-use rate of Php 2500 which includes:

📌 Lunch buffet at the TradeWinds Cafe with one round of non-alcoholic beverages 
(like tropical chilled juices, iced tea, and sodas)
📌Use of the infinity pool is open from 8:00am until 8:00pm. 
📌Children from 4-12 years of age are entitled to a 50% discount while children from   0-3 years of age will be given free access to the facilities as long as accompanied by one paying adult. 
📌It also comes with a complimentary one (1) hour use of Kid's Zone for paying children. 
📌Senior citizens are entitled to a 20% discount for the package. Offers cannot be settled by f&b vouchers.

Dusit Thani is a chain of hotels giving its guests a traditional Thai grandeur, rich heritage, and world-renowned hospitality. At Dusit Thani Hotels and Resorts, they allow you to be pampered with their iconic service rooted in the richness and tradition of gracious Thai hospitality. The genuine warmth, respect and commitment of their staff affirms their brand promise, “the delivery of an experience that enlivens the individual spirit, no matter the journey."

Cebu, the Queen City of the South, consistently known as the go-to island for its beautiful beaches and resort. And just last December 2019, Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu had its grand opening. Not only is it famous to the international market but Dusit Thani gives gracious customer service to its local market - the Filipinos.

The View at the Lobby Lounge of Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu

The panoramic view at the lobby lounge of Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu

Just perfect for the relaxing day!

  I had a first-hand luxurious day-use experience at Dusit Thani. Let me show you how grand and lavish it was.

 The infinity pool is just as perfect as its scenery as you swim and enjoy the day away. 

TradeWinds Cafe

Tradewinds Cafe is Dusit Thani’s Buffet Resto. What more can you ask for, with the sumptuous food that Tradewinds Cafe offers? You will taste the best of European, American and Asian cuisines and it presents the panoramic view of Punta Engaño.

Tempura Station
Salad Station
Cheese and Cold Cut Station

Seafood Station

Canape Station

And of course, Lechon de Cebu


Japanese Station


And more Desserts

My favorite, red velvet cakes

Fruit Station

And since it was Valentines' day today, Dusit Thani never forgets to make their guests feel special, A red rose and bottle of sparkling wine for me.

Thank you, Dusit!

While you are having the best time of your life enjoying the infinity pool, great food, and gracious customer service of Dusit Thani’s staffs, you can also take a tour and experience their signature drink at the View- Lobby Lounge or their Valentine cocktail drink called the Sangria Mi Amor to buy one take one for  Php 390++ per order.

The Deli

If you are craving desserts, cookies and cakes, The Deli is the best place to go. 

Experience Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu as they bring you the best of gracious customer service!

Care to share your thoughts!