Most of the time, I go to bazaars than to malls When in Manila. You might ask: why go to bazaars when malls offer many more things?
Well, for me, bazaars are not just places for business owners to sell their products. I think they are more of a venue for people who want to share their passion about what they are promoting than just business alone. The space between the consumer and the seller is closer, as well. Knowledge sharing is also far more abundant.
A week ago, I visited a bazaar located at the heart of Dasmarinas Village, Makati, called Dasmarinas Pavillion. Here, there were more than twenty stalls offering unique products to meticulous customers. Some sold dresses, confectioneries and processed meats, while others sold fascinating items.
There’s this stall there that got all of my attention, though. It sold cocoa-based products, but I guess there was something in it that I found very unique and interesting.
The name of the stall was Sindikato de Cacao & ChocoATPB. Owned by Mr. Zoilo Andin Jr with the partnership of his wife, Ms. Diane Tan-Andin; they create and sell products that evolved from our very own Philippine cacao.
After verbalizing my interest about his cocoa creations, he invited me to take some sips from his thick cocoa drink made with pure tablea. I didn’t refuse of course, since this was going to be a one-time opportunity for me to ask him all the things that I wanted to know about our delicious local cacao.
Sindikato de Cacao & ChocoATBP: The Unexpected Beautiful Beginning
It all started in 2011 when his doctor advised him to start a hobby that would give him some sort of relaxation despite his busy schedule as an attorney. Andin suddenly realized his desire to go back to his childhood days when his love of chocolates was at its peak. He can still remember how he enjoyed taking a sip from every cup of hot, creamy batirol. This made him realize that he should go back to this nostalgia, while relaxing from the terrible effects of stress at the same time.
In that same year, he started to pursue this new career, which suddenly challenged him and changed his life. With the support of his loving wife, they began doing research about the local tableas and what would the possibilities were regarding a business related to that.
They eventually ended up with a good business plan. Instead of patronizing foreign products, they focused on promoting our local cacao. Andin visualized that this was not just going to be a business for his personal gain, but would perhaps serve as a helping hand to uplift the community of local cocoa farmers, too.
Back in the same year of 2011, they found a community of farmers that could provide what they needed. They basically planted, nurtured and harvested cacao in Davao.
During their first visits to Davao, they had to go through extensive product-testing and experimentation to figure out which one would be the most desirable cocoa blend. Andin was exposed to several overwhelming blind tests, making it difficult to distinguish the best combination of cocoa. All of the 7 choices tasted really great, but he could only choose one. At the end, he found the blend he was looking for: an original, bittersweet cocoa taste with the finest texture and quality possible.
Andin also revealed why he named his team of farmers Sindikato de Cacao.
During the time that of the tests, one of the farmers uttered that they were like a group of syndicates talking about a secret. This put a lighting bulb on Andin’s head, giving a good foundation to their team name. Another farmer then interrupted the conversation and said, “Para tayong mga sindikato ng cacao (We are like syndicates of cacao)”. And that out-of-the-blue comment lit up the bulb even brighter! “Aha! Then, we can call ourselves, Sindicato de Cacao!”
For Andin, this name sounded very intriguing because we all know that syndicates usually play a bad role. For him, though, the name gave his business a little bit of mystery.