When in Rome, do what the Romans do

BY: Mel Santos

An old saying where no man should work on a Sunday may perhaps be true – to most. Here at Plantacion de Sikwate, we can’t help but answer even the smallest kinds of questions.

The other day, as the time stamp reflects, we were asked how to become a member. It is our calling to help. To listen and to inspire those who come our way.

We treat each and every person’s queries with confidentiality. Thank you for entrusting to us with your hopes and aspirations.

Thank you to our page admins who do not fail to help.

Well, we are FILIPINOS. We help each other. Anytime, any day. The only Roman in us is that we love chocolates.

“Carob was very famous in ancient Rome. This is comparable to the cocoa and is also used for chocolate-like flavors. The Carob was introduced to the Romans by the ancient Greeks. In fact, the evolution of the Roman diet was highly influenced by the Greeks whose culinary skills were more advanced than the ancient Romans.” (source)

Should you want to become a member of PDS, CLICK THE LINK /

Because Helping Never Stops

Good Day! Thank you for watching our TV guesting at Everyday Goodwill with our newest PDS member and Friend of PDS Maria Teresa Cancio last Tuesday. It is with pride and joy that the livestream video at Inquirer 990AM reached an impressive 659 views! Just last Tuesday evening, Ms. Cacao told me that an initial 358 viewers tuned in. Thank you to those who watched.

I rested the entire Wednesday even if I really wanted to pay a visit to a cacao farm in Nueva Ecija. The intense thunderstorms prevented me from pushing through but I got to talk with the farm owner Mr. Oscar Paragas and listened about his intent to plant 36,000 seedlings of the Heirloom cacao variety.

Today, as I woke up Ms. Cacao to greet her a Happy Birthday, I prepared another farm visit schedule closer to home in Marilao. Met with Bong Gonzales’ Farm Manager Raffy Herrera. Bong is our PDS Affiliated Farm owner in Brgy. Caysio, Sta. Maria, Bulacan. With me is Ka Isme of the Pangkat Kaunlaran of DZMM’s Usaping Agrikultura sa Kabukiran.

The days away from the Queen of the South — Cebu was indeed productive for PDS. Proved distance can still bridge us closer to the people we care about. As new friendships were made, old friendships strengthened, I head home to Cebu with Happiness in my heart.

All because I helped. I listened. I inspired.

Friends of Plantacion de Sikwate: Everyday Goodwill Television

Today we had an opportunity to guest in Everyday Goodwill Television of Radyo Inquirer 990AM.

We were last invited on November 21, 2017 and our guesting this afternoon was to give them an update on where we have progressed as an association

excerpts from the show: 

Maraming salamat sa pag imbita muli sa amin. Isa po itong magandang pagkakataon para sa mga magsasaka ng cacao. ~ Romela Beltran-Fabula

We average 1-2 visitors a month from foreign investors or chocolatiers. Ayon sa kanila, ang Heirloom Cacao natin ay hinahatulad sa Lamborghini or sa Ferrari. – Mel Santos

Isang bumisita din sa amin ay taga Sweden. Ma’am Angela and Tibor Vargas. Pumunta sila sa Camalig. They wanted to connect directly sa ating farmer. That way, si farmer, mabigyan natin ng premium price dun sa harvest nila . Yun naman ang pinaga goal natin. Ang mabigyan si farmer ng magandang income si farmer through Heirloom cacao. Yun po ang isang magandang ginagawa ng PDS para walang trader pa. – Romela Beltran-Fabula

Tamang fermentation and drying technology niya . na naituro ni Steven DeVries ng America, isa sa mga founders ng Heirloom Cacao Foundation. Ang naituro niya ay ang ginagamit naming ngayon sa protocols natin. – Mel Santos

Token of Appreciation

As a Token of Appreciation for acknowledging and supporting the efforts of Plantacion de Sikwate Cacao Producers Association, Inc.
on our propagation of the PHILIPPINE HEIRLOOM CACAO –
remnants from the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade in the 1700s, we gave Tess Cancio the FRIENDS OF PLANTACION DE SIKWATE.

Watch the show here


One of our PDS members called me some time ago regarding their harvested heirloom cacao pods in the mountain province. As members who are really keen on growing and propagating the Heirloom cacao, I told them not to forget the proper way of fermenting the beans. I bought some of their FDCBs to help; then evaluated the beans to send off to our fellow members. They will, in turn, give their renditions using the FILIPINO AROMATICO™ single origin cacao beans.At PDS, we help our members and fellow farmers to perfect the craft within the cacao value chain. We may not be doctors or specialists in the industry but we surely know how the trees sleep, how their branches yawn, and how their leaves dance after the rain.

We are PDS. We help. We listen. We inspire.

CACAO & Everyday Goodwill

All it takes is a determined and passionate farmer to grow and propagate a rare variety of cacao called the Criollo. So-called critics may disagree but look behind me. That is our contribution to the Cacao industry; our very own GININTUAN. Come and join me on June 26, 2018, 1PM at INQUIRER’s Everyday Goodwill live at DZIQ 990AM or via their FB livestream.

– Mel Santos, PDS Chief Executive Officer

Remembering our National Hero’s Birthday, Jose Rizal

As we celebrate our National Hero’s Birthday today, Plantacion de Sikwate joined in the celebration with a guest from a country Jose Rizal visited.

In his sojourn in Japan from February 28 to April 13,1888, he was enchanted by the flowers, the trees, and the inhabitants. When he was in Tokyo he decided to study Japanese language including Japanese drama and self- defense. The most colorful life in his memoirs in Japan was his romance with O-Sei-San as he wrote in his diary “O-Sei-San, Sayonara, Sayonara! 

Several centuries after, we welcomed a guest from the same country to visit our Heirloom Cacao, Kanami Tanaka. With me is Cecilia de Leon, VP of the PDS Bohol Chapter.

Another guest came by our Cebu office this afternoon to join the festivities. Michael Cagas,Technical Manager of Prathista Philippines. With me to welcome is PDS Cebu Officer Ma. Emma Ramas.

To Gat. Jose Rizal, Happy 157th Birthday!


From the Queen of the South to the City of Smiles

by Mel Santos

“Back to work!” said millions of workers today; but not for my PDS. We are a private-led cacao association with a Farmer-centric mindset. So a back-to-work day is not slowing us down.

In fact, I woke up Christopher Fadriga (PDS President, right side wearing a purple collared shirt) around 4AM with a plan in mind. “We’re going to Atipuluan with you.” We then agreed to complete the Pinoy Tour with Cacao Authority’s Don Alec.

Our destination: THE CITY OF SMILES.

Nestor Saludo (left side in a white cap), our PDS Cebu Chapter PRO, kept his jolly side up as we boarded the Fast Cat Ferry in Toledo Port, Cebu which is bound to Don Carlos Port in Bacolod. “I need to do a raindance’ he said. The mighty sun was up and with the looks of it, a sweltering day awaits. But as Ms. Cacao (Mia Concepcion, PDS Media Director) mentioned yesterday, “Rain or Shine, our passion moves forward.” (read here)

The last time I visited Chris’ plantation and nursery farm was last year. I took more time in Luzon and Mindanao while Chris took Visayas. When distance is a problem, you make ways to bridge the gap, right?

LDR or Long Distance Relationship (Ms. Cacao is laughing at the other end of the phone line as to why I know this Millennial term) is hard at first but when you keep the faith and have the communication lines always open, Batanes to Jolo is just a stone’s throw away.

Chris’ cacao plantation and nursery left me in awe. It was a humble nursery last time I saw it but now, it looks like every cacao farmer’s paradise. It may have the same amenities of a cacao farm – water, irrigation canals, wind breakers, intercrops, seedlings and trees. But why is Chris’ Farm such an impressive sight? Is there a secret formula (Humic Acid, Foliar, Feng Shui or the NO TRESPASSING sign) that makes his farm well kept, safe, and conducive to house the Heirloom Cacao National Training Camp?

Well, the Chris Fadriga Plantation and Cacao Nursery has Balrly Valenzuela. (left side in blue basketball jersey) Salamat gid, migo. (Thank you, my friend) for your determination, green thumb, and passion to care for the Filipino Aromatico. Keep up the good work and thank you for supporting us and our very busy President.

Team PDS (Chris, Nestor, and I) have finished lunch with our guest from the Carribeans, Don Alec so we are heading out to the field to explore. We have a lot to accomplish but what a difference a day makes?

The difference is that the PDS Team travels near or far TO HELP. TO LISTEN. TO INSPIRE.

Cacao Authority Visits Cacao Icons

A day before our country commemorated the 120th anniversary of our independence, Plantacion de Sikwate had a visitor from the Carribeans. About a month ago, we got an email and a message in our website (plantaciondesikwate.com). He shared his passion to search for the remnants of the finest chocolates in the world — criollo and see if it really does exist in the Philippines.

As the host for our visitor, we met with him and discussed possible collaborations that would bring the Filipino AromaticoTM to the world. Negotiations to be featured in his website (cacaoauthority.com) was also included.

Such meeting is proof that the Heirloom cacao/Criollo, that our association took into our care, is being noticed and respected by people who share the same passion.

It is not through popularity, awards, or countries visited makes one the expert in a field. It is how willing you are to help, listen, and shed sunshine to others that matter.

As you read this post, our #TeamBohol is with Don Alec to different cacao farms affiliated with PDS. Rain or shine, our passion moves forward.

To help. To listen. To inspire.

In the photos are:
Don Alec – cacao authority publisher
Mel Santos – PDS Chief Executive Officer
Nestor Saludo – PDS Cebu Chapter PRO and Recipient of the BrownSeeds Ltd. Singapore Cacao Program
Duke Miñoza – PDS Bohol Chapter Member and Recipient of the BrownSeeds Ltd. Singapore Cacao Program
Cecilia De Leon – PDS Bohol Chapter Vice President and Recipient of the BrownSeeds Ltd. Singapore Cacao Program
Indai Felipa Cortes – PDS Bohol Member and JV partner

The People’s Choice

by Mel Santos

The month of June brings inspiring news for the country and the world at large. According to the newspaper I have read, eight-division world champion Senator Manny Pacquiao is holding his boxing match with Lucas Mathysse or Danny Garcia in Malaysia by the end of this month. Such news have prompted me to post this photo with Pacman. Like any other boxing fan, I wish that the upcoming WBA Welterweight World Title fight brings victory to our country.

And speaking of the land of flowers, chicken satay, and elephants, Malaysia grows a favorite crop that I hold dear to my heart – the Cacao M01 Trinitario variety. Here in the Philippines, this variety is known as the W10. Now, Plantacion de Sikwate Cacao Producers Association, Inc. where I belong to as Chief Executive Officer, plants this cacao variety with the Mexican descendant Heirloom cacao/Criollo.

The boxing world considers Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao as the People’s Choice after winning endless bouts with Mexican contenders such as Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, and Marco Antonio Barrera to name a few. At the same time, the Chocolate world shares the same win when cacao trees growing in countless backyards and lands came from Mexican cacao seeds that were used as a form of currency during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade in the 17th century.

In the photo I am sharing, you will also see the bananas I had for breakfast. The Latundan (Apple Banana) is another variety from the countless list like cardava banana or “Saba Banana”, Lakatan, Katunggal (Plantain), and Señorita. These bananas, together with coconuts, calamansi, mangoes, and madre de cacao, may grow as an intercrop with cacao which then brings sustainable income to farmers, as well as attract investors, and tourists to our country.

All the best to Pacman and our Cacao — the best choice for the Filipino People!


Recently posted in our FB Official Page (PDSCACAO) is a Crowd Sourcing poll. Help us decide if Cacao farmers, or Cacao aficionados are ready to start planting and will join a Forum and Symposium this month. A lot of questions coming from the FB page include “Are there forums in Luzon, NCR, or Manila?

Vote your choice of Yes or No in the poll we created.



Cherrels and Cacaos to Harvest

Heirloom cacaos have a distinguishable trait. Ms. Cacao calls them the baby bump but it is one of the many physical indications of a fine tasting cacao variety. you may call it a baby bottle nipple for its curved tip.

However, what is more important is the cut test to see white beans to lilac or light pink colored hues. The bean shape will also tell you its story.

Join us as a member and through our cacao adventure, we can plant 20 million trees. It is a challenge we send to all cacao planters. SAVE THE HEIRLOOM. SAVE THE LINEAGE. SAVE ORGANIC CHOCOLATES.