Feature: San Isidro's "sikwate" goes commercial
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (5 October) -- Besides coffee that is craved by yuppies and oldies alike, the trend seems to take a new curve as Davao del Norte's newest municipality of San Isidro is taking the lead of giving coffee its toughest alternative.
San Isidro is home to cacao beans that when processed make the commonly known "tablea", roasted to perfection and packed in traditionally-crafted banana paper.
Potential buyers have long been eyeing this product to start a full-blown business of Davao's real Chocolate.
However, it took years before the town's local executives finally gave attention for the promotion of the said product.
Not just a tourism attraction that draws more and more people to take a look of the San Isidro town, but the chocolate promotion has also boosted the economy of the said town.
From planting cacao for their personal consumption, the town folks have made their planting more of a business now targeting a larger market in the Philippines and even abroad.
San Isidro's cocoa now reaches the food tables in Visayas, Luzon, and even international markets as it connected with a marketing arm, Converging Systems and Innovations (CSI). CSI Trade Link was organized by young entrepreneurs from Davao City whose aim is to facilitate investment and market linkages for small and micro enterprises, and provide support through product development.
CSI conceptualized the first ever commercially produced Davao chocolate by popularizing "Sikwate!" It handles the processing, packaging and promotion of San Isidro's cacao.
Later the CSI Trade Link forged a partnership with the local government of Davao del Norte, cacao producers and traders, thus creating the Chokolate de San Isidro group.
The said group formalizes the consolidation of cacao products from the various farmers in the said town and make sure that the production meets the demand set by the consumers as drawn by CSI, its marketing arm.
Found to have captured a big market locally and internationally, CSI has given cacao the chance to be known worldwide.
In the Philippines alone, "tablea-drinking" has long been a tradition. The use of tablea in Philippine cuisine has evolved. Once mainly used for making "sikwate" or the visayan dialect which means chocolate drink, it is now commonly used in baking and as ingredient to other traditional delicacies like puto and suman. In restaurants and coffee shops today, tablea is used for making chocolate dips and other chocolate beverages.
This has pushed the demand for cocoa in the commercial arena.
Besides the distinct taste, sikwate-drinkers go after the healthy benefits of dark chocolate. Studies showed that tablea has Polyphenol antioxidants that helps reduce blood pressure and the risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Medical research also clarified that opposed to the common conception of people, the element of Stearic acid in tablea does not raise blood cholesterol levels.
Not just chocolate tablets that reach your homes, San Isidro with the help of CSI is now considering business in big malls and other business establishments. Soon, Sikwate! stalls will go side by side the popular coffee shops in Davao's leading malls. (PIA XI) [top]