RAQUEL AND THE LEGEND OF MARIA CACAO CEBU’S ‘CHOCOLATE QUEEN’ DEDICATES HER LIFE TO PROMOTING FILIPINO CHOCOLATE
WHEN RAQUEL CHOA was seven years old and still living in the mountains of Balamban, Cebu, her grandmother told her the legend of Maria Cacao, which held that she lived in the mountains, her palace surrounded by cacao trees. She would harvest the cacao beans and load them into her ship that would travel through the river to the open sea, where the ship would turn into gold. Raquel’s grandmother even added that Maria Cacao’s palace was located in a magical tree near their house. growing chocolate business in Cebu. Known as Cebu’s “Chocolate Queen” and “Chocolate Ambassador,” she and her husband run Ralfe Gourmet, which produces artisanal chocolates from homegrown cacao beans; Casa de Cacao, a venue for the famed Chocolate Appreciation Tours; and The Chocolate Chamber, a chocolate retail store. The Chocolate Chamber was one of the official stops for APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic
Raquel Choa inspecting cacao beans.