Rosario's Delicacies and their 100% natural Tableya
When hearing the word tableya, one thinks of the classic and traditional Filipino staple made from cacao beans. In the Philippines, tableya is mostly consumed during the morning as an alternative to coffee. In the afternoon, the famous Filipino snack, champorado, a sweet rice porridge made from coconut and tableya.
The tableya is bitter. Hence, many of the Filipinos, especially the younger generation that has been fed with imported hot chocolates, don't appreciate its taste. However, in the recent years, through the gradual increase of cacao farmers in the Philippines with optimal knowledge of its new technology, the tableya has been making rounds locally once again, with several local brands being acknowledged outside the country as well. One of these brands is Rosario's Delicacies.
I was able to talk to their second-generation founders and game-changers, Nel and Eyeth Belviz, and learned more about the traditional tableya.
Rosario's Delicacies started on January 2, 1978, when Rosario's Delicacies' late forefather, Severino Belviz came to a "Eureka Moment," just right after his son, Nel Belviz was born. He noticed that his son's birthmark under his chin was shaped like a cacao bean. As it was a lightbulb moment for him, he immediately acted on it and planted his very first cacao in a farm that he leased. From that moment on, he worked on his cacao farm, after his working hours, from 4-8pm every day.
Fast forward to 4 years after, his son Nel, the one responsible for his "eureka moment" or shall I say "glorious intervention" has already dreamed of making a bar of chocolate. The young kid would often make his chocolate by mixing tableya with sugar or milk.
However, after a trip to Thailand with a friend, another lightbulb moment came to the late Severino Belviz. He visited a durian farm there and was convinced to focus on durian farming instead. Hence, Rosario's Fruit Stop in Bangkerohan was born. Even though the family focused on their durian farming, they did not leave out the cacao.
The Nel and Eyeth Belviz tandem
It was in 2011 that Severino's son, Nel, and his wife Eyeth turned their eyes on cacao farming once again and decided to produce the tableya. During that time, the cacao farming was slowly becoming prominent in the Philippines, with several large international companies relying on the country for their chocolates' cacao. In 2015, Eyeth went to Belgium to study chocolate making (from bean to bar). Hence, as of the moment, along with several cacao producers in Davao City, the Belviz couple are doing the best they could to strengthen the Cacao Industry in Mindanao.
Like Rosario's Delicacies, the Mindanao's chocolate industry has evolved so much, as many brands are making their own bean to bar chocolates and even showcasing them in the international market, but what about tableya? What makes the Filipino Tableya different from the usual chocolate drinks we have in the market?
According to Nel Belviz, the tableya, specifically the one they are making, and the one being produced by several cacao farmers in Mindanao today, is all natural. They don't add, and they don't remove anything from its source. It also has a complex and sophisticated favor--it's fruity, it's not flat, not smoky, and it has developed its own aroma. What's interesting is that its flavour also depends on the particular climate when it is produced.
Since the tableya is all natural, it offers robust health benefits as well. It's 100% real chocolate that boosts serotonin levels. It improves brain function and may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. It's also the powerhouse of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. Think of these when you're thinking of buying other imported brands from the supermarket (most of which have only 50% cacao or less).
Rosario's Delicacies aim to standardize the quality of their tableya. While maintaining its traditional varieties, they also try to innovate as much as possible. They also help a lot of small farmers earn a living or farm more "wholesomely."
Slowly, the cacao industry in Davao City is making it to the top. The Davao tableya and chocolate makers have it all: they're ethical, and they produce top-notch cacao and chocolate-based products. However, it would grow faster if it gets more support from the Filipino people. Support local. You may get these fantastic products at the Filo Artisan Trade website. Locally, there is Cacao City, a collaboration store of Davao local cacao-based products.