It all started with a bowl of chocolate icing for Pamela Cinco. Licking off the leftovers of the icing used by her aunt in making a cake is her earliest memory of chocolate. I think the passion was always there from the moment I was allowed to eat chocolate,she says. 


In 1998, she started making chocolates using imported brands. However, there were no websites or books that could tell her if what she was doing was right. Fast forward to 2013, I learned how to make my own chocolate using local cacao.She researched on her own, did blind long distance calls, and funded her passion with her savings. My passion helped me ignore the difficulties and gave me the motivation to focus on the joy of learning about chocolate each day.


That passion led to Risa Chocolate. Risa is all about joy and delight,she says. Risa offers truffles, pralines, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, murron, Pilitas (choco covered pili), couverture, baking chocolate, and other chocolate products that Pamela developed by following her chocolate cravings.


Risa takes pride in using Philippine cacao in her products. The local cacao varieties are very good,says Pamela. Championing anything and everything Filipino is part of Risas brand DNA. In fact, it is the first Filipino chocolate brand to join the London Chocolate Show in 2016. Among Cincos proudest moments for Risa also include joining Madrid Fusion Manila and taking part in the projects of Secretary Berna Puyat, where they get to feature their products to a global audience. 

I think our brand stands out because of its authenticity. Risa is a brand about our own lives and our passion for chocolate. When you have a brand as sincere as that, you will always stand out because real life will always be relevant and relatable to each person.Risas success happened because Pamela and her family lived and breathed the brand. Our family does not only have a role in the chocolate business. It is our life.


Family also plays a vital role in Treena Tecsons passion for chocolate. Growing up in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, which is a sugar-producing region of the Philippines, we all had a sweet tooth and always had dessert after each meal.Her favorite dessert would be anything chocolate, especially the imported brands from the US. 


In January 2017, Treena set a goal for herself: To learn the craft of chocolate-making and the art of bean-to-bar chocolate. I had just turned 40 and thought this would be the best time to pursue my passion for chocolate.By June, she got to visit cacao farming communities in her province and this sparked a passion to learn more about cacao.


Treena attended weekend classes and short courses to learn the basics. She practiced at night and on weekends when she was not busy with her regular PR job. Chocolate making was my way of relaxing and recharging after a busy day.She eventually enrolled at the Academy of Pastry and Bakery Arts and Enderun Colleges and received certification as a Level 1 and 2 Certified Chocolate Taster from the International Chocolate and Cacao Tasting Institute in London. Treena also attended the annual Chocoa Chocolate Festival in Amsterdam in February 2019 to immerse herself in the chocolate industry. 

I started posting my creations on social media and received so much encouragement from friends and family to pursue my passion project. They were all excited and interested in my chocolate journey so I started accepting orders and selling online in October 2017.True Chocolate PH is more of a passion project than a business for Treena. She started with truffles and bars all made by herself. Her latest product is Truffle in a Bottle, which she launched in the middle of the pandemic in 2020. She has since taken a break from selling products to focus on learning more about production. I also have a small cacao farm in my province and I look forward to learning more about cacao farming, post-harvest processing, and having a good harvest in the future.”  


The Philippine cacao industry has grown so much since I started learning about it in 2017,shares Treena. When she was starting, it was difficult to get information about chocolate making. Information and equipment are more accessible now so this is why more people are interested in getting into bean-to-bar chocolate making.”  

Both Pamela and Treena agree that improving the quality of harvesting and post-harvesting Philippine cacao is essential to improve the local industry. We need to work on the consistency and processing of cacao beans used to make good quality chocolate,says Treena. Pamela hopes to have a regular venue for local chocolate makers and cacao farmers to have dialogues and interactions. This way, the passion for chocolate can evolve into a communal pursuit and a unifying source of pride.