7 July 2023, Singapore – Ms. Raquel Choa, known as the “Chocolate Queen” of Cebu and founder of The Chocolate Chamber (TCC), was invited by the Philippine and Mexican Ambassadors to Singapore, to share her journey with chocolate and its main ingredient, cacao, and how it could be used to further cultural, trade and entrepreneurial efforts of the Philippine and Mexican Embassies as well as of Singaporean businesses.
As part of its month-long celebration of the 125th Anniversary of Philippine Independence and Nationhood, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore, in cooperation with TCC, hosted an intimate “Chocolate Break” at the Official Residence on 21 June 2023.
Hosted by Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Medardo G. Macaraig, the Chocolate Break, named the “1521 Chocolate High Tea” referring to referring to 1521H or 3:21 PM, and an important year in Philippine history, gathered representatives from Singapore hotels, F&B industry, culinary and educational institutions, history and cultural enthusiasts as well as other Embassy partners. The event provided an opportunity for them to get to know more about The Chocolate Chamber in an afternoon of chocolate appreciation and to forge partnerships on the business and cultural sides to bring the artisanal value of Philippine cacao products to Singapore.
The attendees included the General Manager of Intercontinental Hotel Singapore, Goodwood Hotel Director, F&B Director of Jen Hotel Orchard Gateway, CEO and Founder of At-Sunrice Culinary School, Republic Polytechnic Program Chair, Meta SG Partnerships Director, Philippine Airlines Asia and Pacific Regional Manager, Sony Singapore Representatives, Banco de Oro Singapore, Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and Olal’Art Gallery.
Ambassador Macaraig welcomed TCC’s plan to expand its branches overseas, especially in Singapore, due to its proximity to the Philippines while catering to an international market.
During the chocolate break, guests were able to experience Sikwate, Cebu’s version of hot chocolate, widely known as tsokolate de batirol, which is made from tablea; and a storytelling session by Ms. Choa about Maria de Cacao. A handmade bola de cacao for shaved chocolate toppings on various dishes were given to the guests as tokens.
Also present that afternoon was JP, the youngest son of Ms. Choa and the TCC’s cacao artist, who was invited by Olal’Art to host his exhibition in the upcoming Art Trek, an annual art exhibit organized by the Philippine Embassy, which will be held from late September to early November 2023.
Mexican Ambassador to Singapore, H.E. Agustin García-López Loaeza likewise hosted TCC on 24 June 2023 at his Official Residence for the upcoming Manila-Acapulco Galleon Exhibition to be held from 17 November 2023 to 14 March 2024 at the ACM, in collaboration with the Mexican and Philippine Embassies in Singapore.
The upcoming exhibition is ACM’s first exhibition to explore trade across the Pacific Ocean connecting Asia to the Americas and Europe via two port-cities: Manila and Mexico. It will focus on the role of the linkage between the two port cities as precursors of global economy and globalization, cultural exchange, as well as its impact on present-day society.
Cacao beans play a significant role in the exhibition as an essential crop in the Philippines which came from Mexico during the height of the trans-pacific trade between the two cities through the Manila Galleon. Local Filipino farmers started cultivating cacao trees in their own backyards and the plant quickly propagated throughout the country due to the arable land and humid weather. Cacao seeds were then fermented, dried and roasted, ground into a paste, and molded into blocks which later became tablea.
Chocolate drinks concocted at the Mexican Ambassador’s residence were spicy chocolate (with chili pepper as the main ingredient which originated from Mexico); and aromatic hibiscus chocolate, which will later be named as the official drink of the exhibition.
The year 2023 also marks the 70th anniversary of Philippines-Mexico diplomatic relations. (END)