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.