It was pure serendipity.
When Charita Puentespina leased a farm at the back of their home in Malagos, she didn’t exactly set out to make chocolates. Her son Rex, who handles sales and marketing for Malagos Chocolate, explains, “The farm had existing coconut and cacao trees. A farmer by heart, she started to rehabilitate the trees and not long, harvested the cacao pods.”
Charita proceeded to make tablea out of the cacao beans the traditional way. She roasted the beans using firewood, and then with her own hands, grinded and molded them into round tablets. When the Puentespinas eventually used the tablea, they found it to be deliciously silky. The Puentespinas had struck gold in the form of chocolate.
Located in the foothills of Mount Talomo, Malagos’ rich soil and favorable climate gave the Puentespinas the best condition to produce great quality cocoa beans.
The family’s chocolate journey continued when Mars, Incorporated, the global organization behind such classic labels as Milky Way, M&Ms, Snickers, and Twix, came knocking at their door. Rex recalls, “In December 2007, the Mars cocoa sustainability team approached her to set up Mars Cocoa Development Center (MCDC).
The farm learned to implement good agricultural practices in cacao production, process the beans, and eventually sell the beans abroad. Part of the farm is now a laboratory for farmers to observe and learn good agricultural practices on cacao.”
In October 2012, the Puentespinas established Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation, invested in chocolate making equipment, and started churning out high quality single-origin chocolates. Single-origin chocolates are made from cacao beans sourced from only one particular region, giving them a more distinctive taste. Malagos offers three variants: 100 percent premium unsweetened chocolate, 65 percent dark chocolate, and roasted cocoa nibs.
Although they initially struggled with getting the label off the ground as they dealt with issues on branding, packaging development, and organizational structure, Rex says, “Malagos Chocolate is slowly getting recognized by home bakers and pastry chefs. I am very happy that our products are being well received by our customers. Yes, we have been successful in our initial goals.”
It was fortunate that the Puentespinas has always had a dependable partner in LANDBANK. Rex says, “LANDBANK has been helping the Puentespina Group of Companies for quite some time now in other business projects. We are very happy with its service. That’s why we chose LANDBANK.”
LANDBANK has been instrumental in funding Malagos Chocolate’s major capital expenditures and asset acquisition, enabling the company to make fine flavored chocolates. In the future, Rex believes that LANDBANK can contribute to the future of the brand further by “promoting sustainability, specifically helping grassroots farmers in their quest for increased productivity and development.”
As for Malagos Chocolate, Rex is proud that its 100 Percent Premium Unsweetened Chocolate won the Bronze Prize in the Unflavored Drinking Chocolate Category of the Academy of Chocolate Awards in London last April 2015.
Things are definitely getting sweeter for Malagos Chocolate.
It was pure serendipity.