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How a multi-awarded Filipino chocolate brand is making gift-giving so much sweeter

By Melody Samaniego Published Oct 25, 2022 12:05 pm Updated Feb 02, 2023 6:05 am

Looking for something sweet to give this Christmas? Malagos Chocolate, the internationally acclaimed Filipino brand, is a great choice. That they're made in Davao, the chocolate capital of the country, makes our gift-giving sweeter and even more meaningful.

Supporting local brands is directing the spotlight to the Filipino people and ensuring that small victories are geared towards noble, bigger goals. Malagos Chocolate is a symbolic gift we can send and receive joyfully this holiday season. 

Charita Palmares Puentespina, 83, is the founder of the brand and the moving force behind some of Malagos Chocolate’s most significant achievements. She spearheaded the revival of cacao in the early 2000s through her work at Malagos. Charita has turned over the day-to-day management of the farm to her son Rex.

Her advice to young entrepreneurs and agriculturists: “Love the Philippines. You must look around and see the beauty within. For every piece of land that you acquire, plant something there even just on the perimeters. Share. Whatever it is that you acquire—knowledge, opportunity—share it.”

Why choose Malagos Chocolate

The brand is global and multi-awarded. Malagos Chocolate has earned more than 50 international recognitions. The high-quality beans from a single origin, and the tree-to-bar process that farmers and the rest of the production team diligently handle right within the Puentespina farm in the foothills of Mt. Talomo, in Davao City, are the reasons for the brand’s growth and success. 

Rex Puentespina Jr., sales and marketing head and grandson of the founders of Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation, relates, “Although we are happy and thankful for our rapid expansion, there is still much to be done. The potential for growth remains huge, specially on the international market.”

Malagos Chocolate makes us smile and feeds our senses. Malagos Chocolate’s new packaging, the first ever since they came out in 2013, shows the tree-to-bar process of Malagos where the Puentespina farm is found.

Luxury through responsible leadership and a team of farmers and workers. The universal appeal of chocolates defies borders. In the case of Malagos Chocolate, its first-rate quality is made possible by the hardworking farmers on the 24-hectare Puentespina farm. Apart from its Davao operations, the company also has a chocolate museum at Malagos Garden Resort and a satellite office in Manila.

The efficient blend of a corporate and family business is headed by Rex Puentespina, son of founders Roberto and Charita. He oversees farm and plant operations and spends his time between Davao City and Manila. There are also key managers in various roles. “We created an excellent product and we’re confident it can compete with the world’s best,” Rex says.

Malagos Chocolate is authentic. Rex shares with readers some facts about himself, his company, and his products. “First, we are farmers. I am a farmer. We make fine chocolates from tree to bar because it always starts at the farm..” 

He adds that while other countries have been in the chocolate-making business for hundreds of years, he believes that as producers of cacao, they have every right to be there, too. “It’s in the raw materials. It’s in the bean. To make good chocolate, you must have good beans, and the good bean is just right in our backyard.”

Malagos Chocolate puts the spotlight on the endemic birds of the Philippines on its new packaging. The Davao-based company commissioned illustrations of the endemic birds that inhabit the area surrounding its farms in Davao for its 85-gram boxes and 25-gram pouches. The packaging includes informative descriptions of the birds and their habitat.

Cacao is a high-value crop. ”Cacao is a labor-intensive crop. For the cacao to be productive, it needs shade, to be fed with biofertilizer, and trees pruned regularly to allow airflow and control pests. We reignited the passion for this once-dying crop, driving it into an inclusive, flourishing, and lucrative industry for ourselves and fellow Filipinos. We have proven that the varieties commonly grown here can compete with the other fine flavors of cacao growers in the world, thus making it competitive on the local and the international markets,” Rex points out. 

What's more, high-quality dark chocolates, like the Malagos 65%, 72% and 85%, are all vegan and provide a healthy amount of antioxidants.

Founder of Malagos Chocolate, Charita Puentespina with son Rex.

Malagos Chocolate sustains its local ecosystem. The farm is located at Purok 2, barangay Malagos, Baguio District, about 330 meters above sea level. Historically, the area is a vegetable and fruit-growing communityi. It is blessed with abundant water supply and mostly even rainfall distribution throughout the year. For the last 25 years, the land is teeming with trees and biodiversity. There are now 74 identified bird species visiting the farm and resort area, proof that Malagos Chocolate positively affects the ecosystem around it: from local farmers, crops, and harvest to endemic animals. Moreover, all biodegradable waste is made into organic fertilizer by sister company, Davao Thermo Biotech. They produce bio-fertilizer from agricultural waste.

The brand is proudly Pinoy. Malagos Chocolate is one of the 36 STAR SMEs of PhilStar Media Group’s “Nakakalocal: Love Local, Grow Global” initiative. Nakakalocal recognizes outstanding SMEs that not only help put the Philippine map on the global stage, but also contribute to nation-building. Through PhilStar Media’s multimedia platforms—The Philippine STAR, BusinessWorld, Pilipino STAR Ngayon, and PhilSTAR L!fe—Malagos Chocolate gets to highlight their ability to cultivate the Filipino’s talents, skills, perseverance and diligence.

Surely, there's no better time than Christmas to be generous and no sweeter way to support local than by choosing Malagos Chocolate. 

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Malagos Chocolate products are available at Malagos’ retail outlets in Davao and Manila, from its website, and partner retailers and resellers nationwide.