SPARK! fellow chronicles her Spark-a-Change project that aims to educate kids about gender, equality and human rights.
I never thought of myself as the kids-person of sorts. I always thought they were bothersome, and hoped they would just grow up already so I can talk to them properly and I don’t have to bother simplifying things for them. I really look up to daycare teachers because they have the patience for these kids.
Now, I realize why I have to be patient as well.
I had a particularly hard time implementing the project. The budget was there, the materials, but the children were not. The daycare in my community didn’t have classes for about 3-4weeks before the holidays because the teacher had to be admitted in a hospital. I tried to contact the other daycare but there was no response. Fortunately, they resumed just after the break and I immediately set the date with the teacher.
The plan was simple, a getting to know you activity, a short story and activity and then debriefing with snacks. And true enough, the plan pushed through. There was one thing I was not prepared for, though. As I am very used to the environment with older people, much older than these 4-5 year olds in front of me, I expected them to just listen to the story. Lo, and behold, they were so excited and lively and always raised their hands. I was not prepared for the excitement in the room. I had to keep up.
The goal of the project was for the kids to see that gender should not be a hindrance for respect, especially at home. There was one instance where some of the children in the classroom called one of their classmate bayot (Bisaya for gay) while we were introducing ourselves, to which I answered with gentleness and a smile to not scare the kids “Wala may kaso ang bayot, basta tarong na tao.” (There is nothing wrong with being gay, as long as you are a good person.) To which the kids answered with bewildered stares and the parents at the back responded to with nods. I felt like I took the goal home then.
I understand the Philippines is still a very traditional country, but if the children will grow up as accepting with the same passion they exude now, I wouldn’t mind leaving my children that world.
Chocolate Princess’ Castle: #ChocolateForAPurpose
In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, SPARK! travelled to Bohol to visit the Grand Champion of the Young Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp that it organized together with the US Embassy Manila last year. Dalareich Polot has been active in the activities of SPARK! in women economic empowerment as well as the creation of sustainable communities. While co-organizing a Gender Equality and Human Rights Workshop around Bohol, she spends time with SPARK! Fellow Shamah Bulangis.
For chocoholics who are into scrumptious, affordable, and locally (Philippines) made chocolate, Chocoreich Chocolate Shop and Café is a must try.
The moment you enter through the door of the pink building with a green cacao plastered on its sign near BQ Mall in Tagbilaran, Bohol, the sweet smell of Tableya or Tableja in the local vernacular will invite you in. What catches your eye next will be the cashier who welcomes you with an endearing smile as you check the pastries and the beverages available.
Chocoreich Café is unique and interesting because the main ingredient of their products is, you guessed it, Tableya. The owner, Dalareich Polot – a simple, bubbly, and petite woman entrepreneur who studied chocolate making in Belgium, also endearingly dubbed Chocolate Princess – explained why Cacao, the fruit from which Tableya is processed from, is the main ingredient for their products. She said that she wants to educate local people about Tableya because most FIlipinos underestimate Tableya because most of them do not know that their well-loved chocolates are actually made from this locally grown and processed product.
Being an advocate for women’s economic empowerment as well, she mentioned that the she also includes women as workers for the processing of the Tableya. This kind of empowerment of giving women opportunities at jobs so that they can contribute to their families as breadwinners too, is an important step towards women advancement in the economic arena. Miss Polot is also a product of Spark Philippines, Inc.’s Young Women Entrepreneurship Boot Camp.
Apart from that, she also wants to show them how tasty Tableya based beverages, pastries, and food really is. Her passion is reflected in how the place is decorated. The order station has a poster of a quote about chocolates by Joanne Harris of Chocolat, a trivia about Cacao and why the Filipinos call it Tsokolate or Tableya is tacked on the wall, Assorted European chocolates are also on display together with magazines on cocoa/cacao. Artworks of Cacao and people processing and serving it are also on display – ones she got from Belgium – partnered with cacao-shaped enclosed lightings to set the ambience of the café.
There are a variety of products that you can select from, from Hot Chocolates to Smoothies, to Milk Chocolate Drinks, to Chocolate Deserts, Hot Cold Tea, Champorado, Bohol’s Kinutil (Coconut Wine) and different combos you can also choose from. Their best-sellers include Oreo Chocolate Smoothies, Milk Tablea and Vanilla Milk Chocolate Drinks. Their pastries are also to die for like the Tableya-based cupcake and the Red Velvet Cupcake made by the sister of the owner.
For the health conscious people, I can recommend the Malunggay Milk Tea that you can get with or without the Organic Coconut Sugar. If you don’t want sugar on your drinks, they also have Sugarless Hot Chocolate to accommodate your taste. If you are adventurous and want to try new things, I recommend their Pineapple Choco Smoothie, an interesting blend that will make you wanting for more. If you fancy drinking wine, you can also try their Coconut Wine, a localized wine that is as tasty as Red Wine. If native is what you are aiming at, there is always the Native or Sticky Rice Champorado, rice cooked with tablea garnished with milk with Chicharon (Pig Skin) toppings.
Personally, I like Red Velvet and Chocolate Cupcakes and being a chocoholic myself I also tried the Oreo Choco Smoothie, and since I am into local food, I also tried their Sticky Rice Champorado.
The way the Red Velvet Cupcake melts in your mouth and the way the whipped cream complements the cupcake is easy to fall in love with. Aside from the taste, the way the cupcake is presented already gives you an idea of how delicious it is. Its simplicity is a lovely oxymoron to the succulently complex taste sensations it sends to your mouth.
The Tableya-based Choco Cupcake is as tasty as it sounds. Presented in a square plate with chocolate syrup garnished on the plate with the cupcake put on top of it, you can definitely taste the Tableya in the cupcake, as you should. And the way its dough is made is unexplainably wonderful that you have to try it for yourself so you can know how it really tastes like.
Like any other Choco Smoothies, the Oreo Choco Smoothie is served in a tall curved glass with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles put on top of it. Taking a small sip from the beverage can take you home to your grandma’s homemade hot chocolate as you are having your merienda (afternoon snacks) when you were just a kid. The Tableya element is very evident but also is combined perfectly and effortlessly with its Oreo flavor. The drink delivers its promise of combination that makes it easily a staple order you might want to have whenever you visit Chocoreich Café.
For Boholanos, Champorado is also a staple food and for them, Chocoreich’s champorado doesn’t disappoint. The idea of putting Chicharon (Pig Skin) is an original for Chocoreich. Some of her costumers wanted something other than their mostly sweet array of food so champorado is a nice variety to the taste of Chocoreich’s products. You can opt to mix the sticky rice champorado with the milk or not but eitherway, its flavor definitely stays with you after every spoonful.
Of course it’s not a chocolate shop without the chocolates sold. Chocoreich’s owner puts a personal touch to their Roasted Cacao Beans Chocolates by making the packaged ones herself. These chocolates are milk chocolates with roasted cacao beans as fillings. They also have assorted chocolates that the owner made herself as well, incorporating her experiences and knowledge gained in Belgium to the way she made these chocolates. These chocolates include Mint Chocolates, Milk Chocolates of different fun shape and sizes, and White Chocolates, too.
What makes her café special from other chocolate shops? It’s a Business with a Purpose (#BusinessWithAPurpose). Most business thrive and are founded on money, but a business geared towards advocacy and community development is a business worth investing in, an establishment worth blogging for. Though her café is still at its infancy, there is great potential for it to be the next big thing in the future for chocolate shops. Dal, as she is lovingly called, is a great visionary, a woman who proves that girls and women can turn their dreams into plans, their plans into action, and their actions into reality. So if you want to Eat with a Purpose (#EatWithAPurpose), or looking for a great place to eat chocolates or buy chocolate pasalubong for the family and you happen to be Tagbilaran, Bohol, visit Chocoreich Chocolate Shop and Café, the Pink Chocolate Castle of the Chocolate Princess.