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Enter the House of Maria Cacao.

Raquel Toquero Choa, Cebu's Chocolate Queen, is on the move again, making sure that Philippine cacao is at the forefront of creation and innovation.

This time, Toquero has gone beyond chocolates and is opening what she calls the 'House of Maria Cacao,' where products and services involve cacao and creations by women artists and entrepreneurs are featured.

Top-billing the list of products to be showcased in the 'house' is her beauty line 'Raquel' with products such as Cacao Lava and Theobroma Oil.

Cacao lava, made of pure cacao without any artificial ingredients, can be used as a make-up primer.

Theobroma oil, cacao butter in liquid form, can be used as a skin moisturizer and can likewise be mixed with cacao lava to neutralize its darker shade.

'We do not stop innovating because there is so much we can do with cacao. Years of being exposed to cacao and its

by-products gave birth to these products and we are happy to share these with the public,' said Toquero, an Inquirer ambassador.

Toquero's team has also developed tablea soaps and tablea candles.

A self-taught painter, Toquero uses the cacao lava in her paintings and other artwork.

'The House of Maria Cacao is calling on women artists and entrepreneurs with ideas and products that we can showcase here. We want to give them a venue where they can showcase their products and their talents,' said Toquero during the official launching of the House of Maria Cacao on March 30.

Toquero has also partnered with make-up artist Janice Barillo to spread the news on the benefits of using cacao lava as a make-up primer.

'Cacao lava is made of natural ingredients so it will just be absorbed by the skin. As a primer, it helps make-up stay longer on your face for up to 12 hours without worrying about synthetic chemicals damaging your skin,' said Barillo.

Earlier this year, Toquero announced the opening of the retail brand 'Batirol' by The Chocolate Chamber, making the local chocolate drink sikwate (made of tablea) and tablea-based cupcakes more accessible to the middle-income market.

Batirol follows the to-go concept and the first kiosk will stand outside The Chocolate Chamber store in Barangay Kasambagan (near the Sarrosa International Hotel).

Toquero rose to fame in 2011 when she started Ralfe Gourmet and communicated her advocacy of putting the Philippines on the world map of chocolates with low-priced but high-quality products.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 30, 2017
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