RAQUEL AND THE LEG­END OF MARIA CA­CAO CEBU’S ‘CHOCO­LATE QUEEN’ DED­I­CATES HER LIFE TO PRO­MOT­ING FILIPINO CHOCO­LATE

Agriculture - - Choco Queen - BY AN­GELO G. GAR­CIA

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.

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