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Award-winning Filipino-made chocolate now available in Australia

The Filipinos’ sweet contribution to World Chocolate Day

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Xyrome Namiza
Xyrome Namiza is a 21-year old writer in Bulacan, Philippines. He is currently taking Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies Major in Global Development and Sustainability and is now a graduating student at Far Eastern University.

Auro Chocolate is an internationally awarded bean-to-bar chocolate launched in 2015. And it is now available in Australia. It has won 36 international awards, which includes the most prestigious award-giving bodies like the Academy of Chocolate (AoC), Great Taste Award and International Chocolate Awards. 

Auro Chocolate’s cocoa beans are directly sourced from Mindanao where they buy it at a higher value to encourage farmers to produce high-quality beans. Their domestic and international growth led them to continuously expand over the years with a retail store in Tokyo and it is available to purchase around the world through their partners in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States of America, among other countries. 

If you wish to purchase Auro Chocolates in Australia, you can check out Filo Artisan Trade and Bean Bar You

Origin of chocolate in the Philippines

During the Spanish colonisation in the late 17th century, cacao seeds were introduced to the Filipinos as one form of the farmers’ tribute to the Spanish landlords and government. Since then, local farmers have started growing cacao trees.

More than a hundred years later, the cacao and chocolate business successfully thrived in the Philippines. Our farmers are still planting cacao seeds, but now, it is consumed by the Filipinos or exported to the world. In a country with a humid climate, cacao seeds are ideal as they can be stored for years without compromising the quality. In addition, the traditional process of drying the seeds requires bringing them directly under the heat of the sun, most of the time on roofs of Filipino homes, where they dry in bilao (winnowing basket) before they would be ground up in homes or in the nearest palengke (local market). After that, the ground beans are formed into balls where they can stay relatively soft since the weather is hot in most months of the year. 

Cacao seeds being dried under the sun in street-sides of Davao. | Photo courtesy of Dame Cacao

Just like the other aspects of the Philippine trade, the cacao and chocolate industry had its downfall. During the 1980s, farmers started seeing cacao losing its value as a cash crop when Mars company would buy in bulk but at the lowest possible price. To add to that, neighboring countries in Asia like Malaysia started growing cacao seeds as well. At some point, local farmers had to prioritise planting other crops that will provide them better sources of money.

Today, the global increase of interest in chocolate has led the government to intervene in the local production of cacao. Millions of cacao seedlings are being distributed and planted across the archipelago, mostly in the Southern part, with the hopes to increase the national production in order to reach the global market. 

Cacao been sun-drying after the fermentation process. | Photo by Auro Chocolate

The Filipinos’ love for chocolate reflects our love for anything sweet. People say that you are what you eat— and it’s probably right for the Filipinos. The fondness for eating rice and the love for chocolate has evolved into the creation of champorado— a Filipino chocolate rice porridge. If you crave champorado, it is available at your local Filipino grocery stores and Asian shops. 

The availability of Filipino-sourced cacao and chocolate to the world is a reflection of how it has shown the world an aspect of our culture. Perhaps, the next time we think of Philippine culture, we think of it as something that is not always colorful; it can be in the shade of brown, or dark brown that is almost black, or white— like chocolates.

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