Footprints of PUM Netherlands In the Philippines’ Cocoa Sector


Philippines is one of the emerging cocoa origins, gaining accolades worldwide for fine flavor and variety.  Cocoa was introduced in the country during the Spanish Colonization in the 17th Century, more specifically around 1670, through the Manila-Acapulco Trade, bringing the first Cacao of Criollo Variety to be planted in the Philippines and throughout Asia.  The Spaniards passed on the tradition of processing cocoa beans into cocoa liquor known as ‘Tablea’ in Filipino to produce rich, dark, chocolate drink – the way the Aztecs of South America do it at the time.  From then on, chocolate making and consumption became a huge part of Philippine Cuisine and Culture.


PUM Netherlands played a very important role in the resurgence of the cocoa industry in the Philippines.  PUM started  its cocoa missions in 2007 when there were no development movements yet in the industry, and through the years developed industry prime movers who are responsible for cocoa development in Davao Region, which plays a major role in the country being its biggest cocoa producing region.  


This timeline depicts the major development projects and a number of breakthroughs contributed by PUM Netherlands in industry building:



The first of the many visits of Senior Expert Henk Nengerman, a chocolate processing expert, to Puentespina Farms / Malagos Chocolates, where he advised the company to develop its supply of cocoa beans for processing.

Chokolate de San Isidro, Inc. (CSI) was guided by Senior Expert Ed de Bruin, previously an owner of a chocolate factory in Holland, to market its products.  It resulted to a breakthrough in cocoa trading from Davao to Holland, being the first to export cacao beans from the Philippines to Europe.  For its cocoa processing (‘tablea’ and cacao nibs),  the company a cocoa roaster through the Hans Blankert Fund (HBF), which is still being used by CSI up to this day.


 The second / followup visit of Senior Expert Henk Nengerman to Malagos Chocolates, providing trainings on chocolate making, launching the first of many chocolate products under the Malagos Brand.  Since then, the company has been reaping international awards, such as (1) Heirloom Cacao, (2) Cocoa Excellence Program Best Beans, (3) Great Taste, (4) Academy of Chocolate Awards, (5) International Chocolate Awards, among others, making it the most awarded chocolate company in the Philippines to date.


The Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao (CIDAMi) was formed, under the leadership of Charita Puentespina of Malagos Chocolates as President, and Dante Muyco, Jr. of Chokolate de San Isidro, Inc. as Vice President. 


 Rosario’s Delicacies, a fruit and cocoa processing SME, was assisted by Senior Expert Piet Brinkman, a product development expert, who provided training on developing bon-bons with fruit infusions.  The company was able to avail of assistance from Hans Blankert Fund. 


 In March 2017, the Puentespina Family opened the Malagos Chocolate Museum, highlighting both the industry and the beginning of the company.

 In October 2017, members of CIDAMi banded together to create the Cacao City Marketing Cooperative, and in partnership with the Local Government of Davao, opened the Cacao City Chocolate Shop, featuring the best of Davao Region’s cocoa products.

Both these venues turned out to become major tourist destinations in Davao.


 The Cacao City Marketing Cooperative organized a series of trainings for its members, including 9 brand partners/SMEs, to improve cocoa products coming from Davao.  Senior Expert Rinus Heemskerk, Global R&D and Product Development Expert for Cocoa, provided a series of trainings and guidance to the organization and facilitated the availment of Hans Blankert Fund to improve packaging and e-commerce.

As an offshoot of Mr. Heemskerk’s visit, he provided remote coaching on product development and planning of factory set-up for Cacao Culture Farms, and  upcoming R&D engagements for Malagos Chocolates through Senior Expert Hendrik Deschacht.  


These footprints through the years, brought about by the spirit of volunteerism from the PUM Netherlands Senior Experts, were taken in small strides while looking at the bigger picture ahead, and achieving the objectives of SMEs and the industry. 

Cacao City Marketing Cooperative takes pride in this partnership with PUM Netherlands, as we look forward to the future by creating impact in community and nation-building.       


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