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Newsmakers

Sweet stories of success

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Atty. Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
Sweet stories of success
PLDT-Smart Foundation president Ma. Esther Santos tags the cacao trees.

Every year, the world-renowned investment bank Goldman Sachs and equally famous Forbes magazine pay tribute to women around the world by presenting an award to those who have participated in the Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership of Forbes and the United States Department of State, as well as in the Goldman Sachs “10,000 Women” initiative.

I am equally proud and honored to say that, for this year, a Filipino is a recipient of the Goldman Sachs and Fortune Global Women Leaders Award, and that this Filipino hails from my home province of Bohol.

Dalareich Polot, hailed as Bohol’s “Chocolate Princess,” founder of Ginto Fine Chocolates and co-founder of Dalareich Chocolate House, was one of those honored with the award last month in this year’s Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit held in Laguna Niguel, California.

She has made history as the first ever Filipino to win such an award.

In a Facebook post before the awarding ceremonies, Dalareich said that she was extremely honored to be the first Filipina to be conferred this prestigious award and that she was also “very ecstatic” that it came with a grant that she can utilize to pay it forward to her adopted communities.

You see, coming from very humble beginnings, Dalareich knows what it’s like to live a life of making ends meet, of the hard work and determination to earn a decent living, and of the sweet successes that may be reaped when the struggle and the hard work have born much fruit — in this case, the cacao bean.

This 34-year-old engineer by profession recalls that, back in the day, her mother used to sell tablea — pure chocolate tablets — for a living while also working as a street sweeper. Her father was a tricycle driver then and she would help in the delivery of the tablea.

As an aside, I drink tablea every morning. My grandmother drank it every day and she lived up to 102! There must be something in them beans…

After school, she would help her mother pack the tablea or separate the cacao nibs and the shell after roasting before bringing them to the nearby market for grinding. Back then she already made a promise to study chocolates and cacao some more, to find ways to innovate on these products to make them truly world-class.

In 2014, she was able to go to Belgium and study at Ghent University, where she learned from the top chocolatiers of the world. Upon her return to the Philippines, she set up Ginto Chocolates, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ginto Chocolates was a social enterprise that sourced its cacao beans from farmers in Bohol Province, in effect helping the local agriculture and economy. In 2019, Dalereich’s handcrafted chocolates won for her the Gold Award at the Academy of Chocolate Awards in London.

‘Bohol Chocolate Princess’ Dalareich Polot during the training with farmers in Carmen, Bohol.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown was particularly difficult for Dalereich and her chocolates, as they had to close down Dalereich Chocolate House. Then Typhoon Odette hit Bohol province hard in December 2021, further aggravating the already precarious situation.

Nevertheless, the Filipino has always been acknowledged as resilient, and Dalereich is one Filipino that best exemplifies this. She turned the crises that she faced into opportunities as she was able to sell her chocolates abroad as well as engage in local livelihood projects for her fellow Boholanos and displaced tourists. She is also set to reopen the Dalereich Chocolate House once more and set up a chocolate workshop with activities for kids.

Just recently, and as part of their CSR efforts post-Odette, Dalereich launched and initiated a cacao rehabilitation project in Carmen town (where the world-famous Chocolate Hills are found) in partnership with PLDT-Smart Foundation, led by its hardworking president Esther Santos, and Huawei. This is a sustainable approach to create livelihood opportunities for farmers’ cooperatives and associations in Bohol after the devastation of typhoon Odette.

The end goal is to develop an app for this project and their vision is to supply quality cacao beans to all the chocolate makers in Bohol, the whole Philippines and the world.

I am proud of my fellow Boholanon and her very inspiring story, and all I can say is: Padayon!

At the launch of the rehabilitation program with farmers. (Seated from left): Liboron Organic Farmers and Cacao Growers Association president Cecilia de Leon, Huawei’s Karenina Buenafe, Carmen Mayor Che Delos Reyes, PLDT-Smart Foundation President Ma. Esther Santos, Tzu Chi Foundation’s Joven Uy, Third District Board Member Nathan Binlod, and Dalareich Polot (standing behind Joven Uy).

***

In another realm, though equally inspiring, is the story of the one and only King of The Night, my good friend, Louie Recto Ysmael, better known to the Manila glitterati as Louie Y.

Louie is credited for elevating the disco scene of Metro Manila in the Seventies to dizzying heights; also having been the owner of such renowned clubs as Stargazer, Euphoria, Louie Ys, and Venezia. At present, Louie is partner and “guru” of The Palace complex at Uptown Bonifacio.

Louie has lived a very storied life, true to form to his clubs with their smoke and mirrors, flashing and dazzling colored lights and strobes, and heady mix of dance and mellow music.

His was a story to tell and tell it he did. On his birthday, which he celebrated last week, he launched his own memoir, Good Morning, Time to Sleep. It is a coffee-table book detailing the adventures (and misadventures) of Manila’s “nightlife legend.”

The title itself is ironic because once you start reading this book at night, I seriously doubt that you would be able to get some sleep because it promises to be a good and exciting read — perhaps you would also be waxing nostalgic on your part, as you relive Manila’s nightlife back then. I’d recommend a good cigar and some single-malt whiskey or cognac as you leaf through the pages.

Happy Birthday, my dear friend, Louie Y! May you never tire of bringing life to Metro Manila’s night scene. Cheers to many more years!

WOMEN

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