Jose Saguban Auro Chocolate
Philippine cacao farmer Jose Saguban of Davao personally received his international award in France. Credits to Auro Chocolate.

Philippine cacao won one of the main awards for the Top 20 Best Cacao Beans in the World, and the Auro Chocolate cocoa farmer from Davao that helped made it all happen, Jose Saguban, was in Paris, France to receive the award.

The prestigious International Cocoa Awards (ICA) of the Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Programme given by the Salon Du Chocolat was personally received on October 30 (October 31 in the Philippines) by farmer Mang Jose when he was brought to Paris by Auro Chocolate.

Auro Chocolate, the chocolate company that partnered with Mang Jose and members of the Paquibato Tree Developers Cooperative, couldn’t contain their excitement and appreciation when Jose made it to the Top 50 during the initial phase of the world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate and cocoa.

The award-winning Filipino chocolate-makers that sources cacao from local farming communities in Davao immediately decided that Mang Jose deserved the experience to go to Paris to attend the ceremonies, not knowing he would also win the much higher and prestigious main Cocoa of Excellence Award for the Top 20 best cacao beans in the world.

“Thank you to Mang Jose for his hard work, dedication and motivation to keep getting better! What a great moment for the Philippines and Filipino farmers!” said Auro Chocolate on their social media announcement of the big win.

Jose Saguban and his fellow cooperative members were trained by Auro Chocolate’s cocoa manager Louie Cena to prepare their samples for submission to the Paris International Cocoa Awards given to farmers from cacao-producing four regions.

Jose Saguban’s cacao beans were among 223 samples from 55 cocoa-producing countries received by the CoEx.

CoEx conducted a detailed physical quality evaluation of the beans which were carefully processed into liquor for blind sensory evaluation by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme Technical Committee of international cocoa and chocolate experts. Following this evaluation and a robust data analysis, the best 50 samples were selected and processed into chocolate (following the same recipe of 66% cocoa) for sensory evaluation. This evaluation included 35 experts from a broad range of professions from chocolatiers to chocolate sensory evaluation experts to bean sources from 12 countries including Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. From these best 50 entrants, 20 International Cocoa Awards were selected and celebrated.

Philippine cacao pods from local farms are turned into award-winning chocolate bars. Credits to Auro Chocolate.

The International Chocolate Award is most welcome, paving the way for the world to pay more attention and awareness to the Philippines’ young chocolate and cocoa industry.

The recognition just raised the bar of quality and reputation of Philippine Cacao and Philippine Chocolates leading the way to more opportunities for our farmers and chocolate entrepreneurs.

“Mr. Jose Saguban has become a real inspiration for many of our small cocoa farmers in the Philippines… With his achievement, government offices offered assistance in the form of a loan to improve his farm and the farms nearby. Indeed, a celebration for small and diversified farming… Philippines will push for a biodiverse cacao farming system,” said Valente Turtur, Chairperson of the Philippine Cacao Industry Council and President of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao.

“It’s really the time for the people to know – especially people back home – na when it comes to chocolate, our cocoa beans, we’re top-class,” said Theresa Lazaro, Philippine ambassador to France and Monaco. “We are very happy because we’re now in the center of all these chocolates all over the world.”

Agriculture Undersecretary Waldo Carpio, for his part, believes that the Philippines’ participation in the International Cocoa Awards will help boost the country’s economy.

Earlier this year, Davao’s Auro Chocolate won gold at London’s Academy of Chocolate Awards, along with Bohol’s Dalareich Tableya.

More Philippine cacao farmers and chocolate makers have steadily gained international acclaim and following, among them, Puentespina Farm’s Malagos Chocolates declared as world-class Heirloom Cacao,

Dalareich Polot recently won an APEC BEST Award for their business model, while Camarines Sur’s Louise Mabulo won the UN Asia-Pacific Young Champions of the Earth regional award.

SEND congratulations to Jose Saguban and the Philippines’ cacao farmers and chocolate-makers for raising the Philippine flag in France!

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