We Filipinos love our sugar, from sweet cakes to sorbetes to variations of halo-halo. But nothing comes close to the richness of our local tsokolate—and it looks like the world agrees.
Just this month, local bean-to-bar chocolate brand Auro took home awards from the prestigious Academy of Chocolate and The International Chocolate Awards. From the Academy of Chocolate, it won the inaugural Shining Bright Award, which recognizes the growth of fine chocolate from around the world—it was especially noted for its drinking chocolate (!)—while its Regalo-Single Varietal 50% Dark Milk Chocolate won silver at The International Chocolate World Finals 2020-2021, over entries from Colombia, Denmark, Norway, France, and Sweden.
“This win definitely symbolizes hope and a promise to our cacao farmers that the industry is continuously growing and there is a market where we can showcase their hard work, skills and passion,” says Auro co-founder Mark Ocampo. “It’s also an opportunity for us to share our rich cultural traditions to the international market, and enhance consumer awareness and appreciation for premium Filipino cacao and chocolate.”
Auro's award-winning Regalo-Single Varietal 50% Dark Milk Chocolate
Founded in 2015 by Mark Ocampo and Kelly Go, Auro aims to bring out the best of Philippine chocolate by working directly with local cacao farmers from Mindanao. Each product is a work of collaboration that showcases flavors and textures that are distinct to heirloom cacao.
“Cacao was first introduced to the Philippines through the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade in the early 1600s, and since then it has been deeply integrated into our culture and traditions,” says Mark. “Throughout the years, each region has developed their own ways of preparing tsokolate like sikwate in Cebu, as well as adding ground peanuts in Pampanga.”
“To be recognized for our Tablea or drinking chocolate is a true honor as this pays homage to our heritage while representing our country on the world stage. Through these wins, we are able to share our rich cultural cacao and chocolate traditions,” he adds.
Despite the constraints of the pandemic over the past year, Auro has also continued to innovate on its offerings by working with brands like Serenitea and Pinkberry to develop original chocolate menus. They’re also working on a chocolate café concept that’s set to open in Bahrain in June.
“We hope that the Philippines will truly be known as a fine cacao and chocolate destination that can equally compete with the best quality brands around the world. We hope that the cacao industry will continuously be supported because there's still so much untapped potential, especially for our local farmers. We need to grow as one,” says Mark.