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LEAF 2018 SPEAKER IN FOCUS: Rex Puentespina

Born and raised in Davao, Philippines. Rex Puentespina has a degree in Bachelor of Science in Commerce Major in Economics at the University of Santo Tomas.

He is from a clan who is recognized in the field of agriculture for over five decades now. Their family-owned group of businesses have always worked with nature - Puentespina Cacao Farms, Malagos Farmhouse Cheese, Malagos Garden Resort, Puentespina Orchids and Tropical Plants Inc, Davao Biothermo Corporation, and Hydrock Wells Inc.

Rex’s Malagos Chocolate, commercially launched in August 2013, is among the most awarded chocolates from Asia with a total of 24 international wins to date. This includes the most important recognition as one of the producers of the “BEST 50 BEAN SAMPLES” in the world given by the 2017 Cocoa Excellence Programme during the Salon Du Chocolat in Paris, France last year.

As a farmer and chocolate maker at Malagos Chocolate, Rex guides the small, family-owned corporation into producing world-class chocolates that adhere to strict international quality and ethical standards. He recently gave talk on the “The Secret of Producing the Best Chocolate” at the 4th World Cocoa Conference 2018 held in Berlin, Germany last April 22-25.

He introduced Malagos Chocolate, made from Tree to Bar, to markets in Asia, Europe and the US, and continuously develops new products using the single-origin cacao beans from the family’s farm in Davao in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

Rex and his family’s journey as farmers & chocolate makers are told in the Malagos Book of Chocolate. The book also features the history and versatility of Philippine couverture chocolate including recipes contributed by chefs ranging from Romy Dorotan, Myrna Segismundo, and Claude Tayag, to Jordy Navarra, JP Anglo, and Josh Boutwood —among many others. This book is a testament to Filipino farmers’ resilience and determination to produce world-class products.

2018 International Chocolate Awards Results
The 2018 Asia-Pacific competition was held for the first time as an independent competition in Asia and saw a doubling of entries from the previous year (held in 2017 as part of the Americas competition). A total of 700 products were entered by over 100 chocolate companies from 16 different countries.

The judging panel included judges from the USA, Europe, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and members of the international Grand Jury panel around the world. All judging is anonymised, included at the Grand Jury final session, where Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes are awarded by private voting according to the Grand Jury rules.

Early this year, Malagos Chocolate won nine (9) international awards – five (5) and four (4) from the Academy of Chocolate in May and Great Taste in August, respectively.

Malagos 85% Dark Chocolate (Bar Category)
New product! Malagos Rhum (Flavored Dark Chocolate Ganaches or Truffles Category)
New product! Malagos 72% Dark Chocolate Ganache (Unflavoured Dark Chocolate Ganaches or Truffles Category)

Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate (Bar Category)
New product! Malagos Salted Caramel (Dark Chocolate Enrobed Caramels Category)

National Awards
(Given to Grand Jury Philippine finalists; 10 or more entries from one country in a category)
Gold - Philippines Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate

What is your agri-dream for the Philippines/your home region/home country? For Davao City to become one of the preferred sources of premium chocolates to the world.

Share your agri journey. We have been in agriculture for over 5 decades now. Our company, Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation, is part of a family-owned group of businesses that have always worked with nature. We construct water wells, raise goats to make our artisanal cheeses, produce and sell cut flowers and cut foliage, grow potted plants, and run a nature-themed resort including the first chocolate museum in the country, all within our hometown in Davao City on the island of Mindanao, Philippines. Our venture into cacao growing started in 2003. We own around 60 hectares of cacao farm. It took us around 9 years to improve our cacao growing and post-harvest practices as we believe that great chocolates must come from high quality cacao beans. And another 2 years of unrelenting training and testing on chocolate making. We commercially launched our chocolates in August 2013.

How can we take agriculture to the next level? We strongly believe that quality must start from the farm level. Proper implementation / execution of the Good Agricultural Practice on pre and post-harvest practices to yield high-quality raw material or crops.

What is the future of Agriculture in the Philippines/your home region/home country, in 3 words? Sowers of hope.

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