Peace helps make great cacao that makes award-winning chocolates
This is the inspiring story of Santo Tomas Malabog Cacao Farming Community, the direct-trade partner of our chocolate artisan, Theo and Philo Chocolates.
Today the Sto. Tomas-Malabog Community is an empowered farming community who manage their cacao operation by themselves. There are 53 active members and their families who own small lots of half a hectare to 4 hectares in size. They grow the Trinitario variety of cacao trees along with coconut, banana, corn and vegetables.
Plagued by rebels and illegal loggers. It was hard to sell cacao.
But it was not easy in the beginning. Sometimes people don’t know that the cacao used for their chocolates come from places of poverty and conflict.
For many years, the small highland village of Malabog in Davao was a troubled conflict zone with armed illegal loggers and rebel groups. To add to this challenge, the 2-hour drive through rough roads made it more difficult for the Malabog farmers to market their cacao beans to town.
Through Gawad Kalinga, Malabog farmers met Philo Chua of Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates
In 2010, assistance finally came through Gawad Kalinga or ”GK” (meaning to ’give care’), one of the biggest nation-building movement working to alleviate poverty in the Philippines.
Through GK, the Malabog farmers got connected with Philo Chua of Theo and Philo Artisan Chocolates. And for the last 7 years, the chocolate maker sources its beans directly from them.
The role of peace builders for a great cacao
When Gawad Kalinga started in Malabog, they were not spared from the harassment of rebel groups but somehow managed to outlived them.
With their ongoing capacity-building work, it was and still is a big part of the success and peace in Santo Tomas Malabog Community today.
GK focuses on values transformation, regular leadership training of Malabog community leaders and enterprise development.
One can now buy Theo and Philo chocolates in Sweden made with cacao from the Malabog farmers or as a memorable gift in Tropical Holiday or Milk Adventure.
The Tzocolaté team would like to thank Rene Rieta, head coordinator for Gawad Kalinga Mindanao for the photos and information about the good work they do with the Malabog farmers. Mabuhay kayo!