One native town here in Iloilo blooms with promising heritage tourism with the likes of a century-old church, shrine, and vibrant festival. Little do people know that the Municipality of Cabatuan stands proud of its flourishing tablea industry.
Tablea is a local blend chocolate perfected from distinct quality and smoothness of cacao beans. It is harvested in the luscious highlands of Iloilo where native brewers, dubbed as cacao masters, have handed-down their expertise from one generation to the next. The tablea is intricately formed out of profound dedication and synergy of skills attributed to these farmers.
Recognizing its vast contribution to the local economy, the Municipality of Cabatuan propelled the passing of Sangguniang Bayan No. 030-2012 which officially declared tablea as the alternative One Town One Product (OTOP) commodity in Cabatuan. The municipal government likewise cherry-picked the brand name “Tan Tono” as a tribute to its first gobernadorcillo.
Nowadays, Sunbursts Balay Tablea is the authorized manufacturer and distributor of Tan Tono Tablea. Sunbursts owner Ms. Catherine Taleon swells with pride of its humble beginnings.
“Actually, this business is just an accidental one kay nagpangita ang LGU sang ma-venture sang tablea wherein gin-declare nila nga alternative OTOP. They asked me if I am willing to market tablea sa city for a start, gin-accept ko ang ila request sa akon to sell tablea in the city. ”
The business is never a walk in the park or a piece of cake. The firm placed its trust on the traditional process for tablea production. Such tedious, snail-paced process entailed much time, hence having difficulties in coping with the orders and demands of the market.
Being the determined entrepreneur that she is, Ms. Tanaleon asked help at DOST for technology upgrading. DOST heeded the call through the project “Product and Process Improvement of a Cocoa Bean Based Processing Facility for Sunbursts Balay Tablea”. Innovations in the treasured blend followed.
“When I had a chance to visit DOST, they offered to me Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP). I found out that it would help me in improving my product not only in quality but also in terms of the quantity. I then accepted the proposal of upgrading.
“It really helped me in improving the product, the quality of the product as well as the manufacturing and the quantity aspect of production.”
Apart from the technology upgrade, the firm likewise stepped up its product packaging with the newly-improved packaging materials. Production facilities such as emulsifier and heavy-duty cocoa roaster was also be given.
Among of the equipment that comprised the project include planetary mixer, foot sealer, weighing scale, stainless steel cabinet and stockpot.
DOST and the Department of Agriculture also shared the same passion with Sunbursts Balay Tablea in terms of developing its pool of human resource. Rigid training on roasting, grinding, and packaging was conducted along with the staff.
While some people find a business to be a major pressure cooker, Ms. Taleon, who is also a teacher by profession, considers it as her sanctuary. This is because of her utmost commitment to promote and boost the consumption of Cabatuan Local Blend Chocolate while providing livelihood to the community.
Talk about brewing prosperity and community wellness, Sunbursts Balay Tablea is living up to its dream of becoming a progressive business in Western Visayas. One can only be optimistic that there would be plenty of business ventures sharing its success stories as revolutionized by technology. (DOSTVI-KMU)