A Filipino farmer has been recognized in the prestigious Salon du Chocolat or the International Cocoa Awards.
Jose Saguban won the main award for Top 20 best cacao beans in the world, finishing second in the Asia Pacific region.
Saguban, known as “Mang Jose,” was present during the awarding ceremony in Paris, France.
He said this is his first time to go abroad. “First time ko. Masaya ako, kabado ako. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Panginoon, sinusuwerte ako sa cacao beans,” he said.
A native of Paquibato, Davao, Saguban is a farming partner of the homegrown brand Auro Chocolate.
Kelly Go, co-founder and managing director of Auro Chocolate, said it was Mang Jose’s passion for cocoa beans that convinced them to work with him.
“Nakita namin na ang ganda ng kanyang pamilya, may passion sa cacao. Doon kami nag-umpisa na makipagtrabaho sa kanila para mag-improve ‘yung kalidad ng kanilang cacao,” she said.
Government officials are likewise proud of Saguban and Auro Chocolate’s latest achievement.
“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.
Other Filipino brands showcased in the event include Malagos Chocolate, Theo and Philo, Kablon Farms, Coscao, Guilang Tableya, Nutri Rich, Coco Dolce, MS3, Tablea, and Co Chocolat. – with reports from Marilyn Rayray, Cory De Jesus, Mary Anne Rivera, and Bong Agustinez, ABS-CBN News