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‘Coffee for Peace’ enables Filipinos to build peace with coffee


Because at the heart of CFP’s operations is training farmers on coffee processing to develop skills to produce high-quality coffee beans.​ CFP provides knowledge on the market for farmers to understand what consumers want in coffee, and the value of what they do for awareness on fairer trade pricing.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash.com

What if every Filipino, no matter where they’re based in the country, can be a “force for good” simply by sticking to routine—like, say, enjoying their morning cup of coffee?

Davao-based Coffee for Peace (CFP) proves this can be the case as its CEO and co-founder Felicitas “Joji” B. Pantoja confirms that they are a growing community of farmers and business owners practicing and advocating inclusive development principles in the coffee industry. Social entrepreneurship is their business approach to achieve justice and harmony in society and environment.

“As a reputable processor for good beans and an experienced roastery, CFP means business continuity for business owners but equally: support for farming communities. CFP even gives buyers the option to create their own brand under a MOA where 10% of very kilo sold goes back to farmers,” says J. Pantoja. 

Where does the customer from Luzon or Visayas ordering through the online shop fit into the peace building in Mindanao? “CFP by design allocates 25% of its net profit for its Peace and Reconciliation Teams, composed of volunteers from conflict-affected areas and international volunteers. They are trained in inter-faith dialogue, cross-cultural comms, trauma healing, relief and medical operations,” says J. Pantoja.

Because at the heart of CFP’s operations is training farmers on coffee processing to develop skills to produce high-quality coffee beans.​ CFP provides knowledge on the market for farmers to understand what consumers want in coffee, and the value of what they do for awareness on  fairer trade pricing. “We want farmers to be confident about the business side of farming, understand their market, correctly price and inspire the next generation to be farmpreneurs too,” says J. Pantoja.

Once the training is complete, CFP offers to partner communities post-harvest services at cost such as: coffee pulping, coffee dehulling, and coffee drying. Coffee for Peace also offers to partner-farmers and those who buy from them shared services such as: toll roasting, packaging, label design, and photography. The training result is a higher quality coffee product produced by a community in the Philippines.

Nurturing grassroots ‘farmerpreneurs’

At the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition, the top five awards went to Specialty Arabica coffee farmers from Davao del Sur. For jury member Byron Pantoja, CFP VP for operations, this indicates “farmers taking ownership of their craft as producers of some of the best coffee in the Philippines. We need to give more farmers the freedom, knowledge, and opportunity to innovate their coffee processes based on the demands of the market and the limitations of their land. That sense of ownership over what they do is what’s going to make them the best.”

Nurturing community ‘farmerpreneurs’ and realizing the country’s potential for premium to specialty coffee go hand in hand. J. Pantoja says, “Only 25% of the country’s 111M population is served by Filipino coffee farmers. Local cafes are challenged in sourcing good beans. We partner with DTI on bridging gaps such as training, equipment and drying space but getting to a scale that boosts our national reputation as a good coffee producer will take time. From 2,000 kilos at start, we are now at 32,000 kilos and encouraged to continue.”

Coffee for Peace has trained close to 880 farming families from different parts of our country, representing 13 tribes, including some Muslim areas. “Our model is to create our own competitors by giving them the secrets to making good coffee. We want to groom ‘farmerpreneurs’ who are also skilled in coffee tasting, financial management and conflict resolution. We want barista interns to dream of having their own coffee kiosks. For every kilo of coffee, one can make 140 cups of 6 ounces, and a barista in Davao nets 5K a day with his own coffee cart. The same can be done anywhere in the Philippines. Imagine if every region’s farmers had their own pop-up café or coffee cart, neighborhoods will also be educated to buy local,” says J. Pantoja.

“Premium specialty coffee from the Philippines” requires a mindset change that’s supported by the fact that local coffee has scored 80% special quality standard, points out Pantoja. A member of the National Coffee Council, she spoke about the need to streamline various resources from government policy and services and link these to smallholder farmers. “We want every island to join the national movement within the coffee industry to raise the level of coffee quality. Grassroots farmers also mean less carbon footprint for supplying the coffee locals want. We’ve gone to uplands to help a micro-lot owner assess the possibility of coffee farming. We’ve also linked roasters, who used to order coffee from us, straight to the farming community.”

Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash.com

Coffee and PH culture

Coffee is innate in the Filipino culture. “When we visit high-conflict communities, coffee served from a palayok is good quality. When I brought a sample to Canada where I used to live, the roasters said there was potential for premium quality to specialty. But we can only produce limited quantities. Opening opportunities for our farmers drove me to collaborate—inspire baristas to educate customers, get roasters to work with traders who source from farmer,” said J. Pantoja.

Operating for 13 years now, Coffee of Peace started with peacebuilding work. “Coffee is the vehicle but the ‘product’ is peace. In our peacebuilding work in Maguindanao, Basilan, and Sulu, we saw that coffee makes Moslem and Christians sit together and dialogue to settle conflict. In our environmental work, we saw that Arabica trees are included in our national greening program. Giving life back to forests also give locals a new, sustainable means of livelihood. I tell farmers: ‘You don’t have to go to the city, the buyers will come to see protected forest.’ We also advise farmers to get to know their customers, then the process follows,” said J. Pantoja.

As a case, Korean buyers came to Davao looking for fine Robusta. Local farmers have since expanded to Robusta. Explains B. Pantoja, “While specialty Arabica has fruity flavors like blueberries and strawberry, fine Robusta has a super smooth, full-bodied chocolatey taste like black tea.”

This distinction in tastes can be a strength of the Philippines as a group of islands since, explains J. Pantoja, we can’t compete with the land mass and harvest volumes of Vietnam, Brazil or Colombia, and we can’t produce for large coffee chains. “Instead, our edge is premium specialty coffee, with micro-lot orders of 1 to 2 tons that are of a quality and fetch a good price. Each island can produce a different taste profile depending on soil and fauna of that area. Arabica alone has 3,500 subvarieties, while Robusta has 2,400 subvarieties. The higher, the elevation, the sweeter the coffee.” The growing community of coffee champions and curiosity of millennials can only drive excitement over developing Philippine variants that are also ‘Just’ coffee of the social-justice kind.

For more information, visit www.coffeeforpeace.com and peacebuilderscommunity.org. Follow Coffee for Peace at www.facebook.com/coffeeforpeace.

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FFTG as a must-visit cafe… and safe space in Quezon City

Introducing FFTG (Food For The Gays), a new safe space for LGBTQIA people located in Quezon City.

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FFTG – or Food For The Gays, a play at dessert “food for the gods” – wants to be seen as more than just a community café, Instead, said FFTG co-owners (and partners in life) Chippy Abando and Nariese Giangan, this is a place where you – LGBTQIA people, and even those who are not – can be who you are without fearing to be judged. In a gist: a safe space.

“This isn’t common,” said Chippy. What we usually have as spaces for LGBTQIA people are bars, so “maiba naman yung meeting place (here’s a different meeting place).” This is particularly since “not everyone (goes out to) drink, or go dancing.” There are some who prefer to be in a place more conducive for meetings, for that first date, etc so that “malaking bagay na nagkaroon tayo ng community safe space (in FFTG).”

Nariese used to sell pastries online, around April 2020. Then this February, just as Chippy celebrated her birthday, they opened the physical venue.

With FFTG – and even if the name denotes members of the LGBTQIA community – “there’s no specific market targeted,” said Nariese, stressing that everyone is welcome here.

But Nariese said two things are worth highlighting here.

On one hand, they believe that creating a safe space for members of the LGBTQIA community pays off because “we believe in the pink peso.” This point’s worth stressing because when the pandemic happened, many venues closed, including LGBTQIA venues; and “for sure, particularly after the pandemic, there’d be yearning to be in another safe space.”

On the other hand, “we believe in our products.” Meaning, what they offer do not just look good in the menu; they’re actually tasty. Meaning, too, what they have “are something (we’re excited) to share.”

BIZ COUPLE

Opening a business with a partner – or even with others – can be challenging, admitted Nariese. But what makes it easier is they are at a point where “we both already know what we want.”

Nariese and Chippy

Besides, for Chippy, it helps that this has become a real partnership – i.e. they complement each other. Nariese, for instance, oversees food-related concerns; while Chippy focuses on the beverages. That they can help each other out as needed in their areas of focus is just a plus.

MUST-TRY CHOWS

The menu – albeit short – contains various offerings.

For the food, consider:
-Pasta a la Carbonara (P150)
-Spaghetti alla Chitarra (P160)
-Pesto Pasts with Grilled Cajun Chicken (P180)
-Margherita pizza (P160)
-Meat Lover’s (P190)
-FFTG Special (P220)
-Banh Mi (lemongrass beef, chicken satay, char siu pork, P115-P150)

For the drinks, consider:
-Thai iced tea (P80)
-Iced drinks (mocha latte, coffee shakerato, cafe au lait, coffee creamery, from P80-P110)
-Hot chocolate (P70-P90)

If you’re in the mood to try something… rainbow-inspired, try the Rainbow Grilled Sandwich, which is, basically, grilled bread with rainbow-colored cheese fillings. That it doesn’t taste “fake cheese” is definitely a plus.

FOCUS ON EXPERIENCE

All in all, “it’s about the experience,” said Nariese. There are many places where you can eat pasta, pizza, etc but “it feels different if you eat them here. That’s a big part of it.”

Because here, added Chippy, no one will swear at you, you won’t feel ostracized, there’s no prejudice, and it’s safe. Meaning, “you’d enjoy your food while enjoying people’s company,” she said. – WITH MICHAEL DAVID dela Cruz TAN

FFTG is located at 58 13th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City, 1109 Metro Manila. For more information, head to their Facebook account or Instagram page.

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The must-have scented candles of Candle La Vie

When Cyramae Ubaldo started planning her own wedding, a thought came to her – i.e. that scented candles would be great souvenirs NOT just for wedding, but for any events. And so Candle La Vie came into being as a one-stop candle biz.

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When Cyramae Ubaldo started planning her own wedding, a thought came to her – i.e. that scented candles would be great souvenirs NOT just for wedding, but for any events. And so Candle La Vie came into being as a one-stop candle biz.

For Cyramae, two things make Candle La Vie different from those already in the market.

On one hand, its candles are scented from soy wax that are “vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic and paraffin-free”, making them “good for the planet and good for you.”

On the other hand – and to better this – the goods actually sell cheaper than others, since – Cyramae said – “the main purpose for this business is to become an affordable souvenir or giveaway source; and as everyone would agree, we really don’t want to spend that much on souvenirs/giveaways.”

There are four therapeutic aromas available, all of them able to “liven up your space to help you  relax after a long day,” Cyramae said. “These vibrant fragrances are not only delightful to bask in but also have amazing holistic benefits for your mental health.”

The aromas available are:

  1. Cafe (mood booster)
  2. Anglaise Lavande (anxiety relief) 
  3. Bamboo Frais (mind and body relaxation)
  4. Vanille (calming/relieves nausea) 

The goods sell from P209 for 100ml.

For those who want to get in touch with Candle La Vie, head to Facebook or Instagram.

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How a century-old guitar business strikes a chord in the modern market

Throughout the years, Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafters has been among the most trusted names in the industry. It consistently grows its following by providing value added services such as making custom-built pieces, repairs, and new string instruments like ukuleles.

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For many generations, the guitar-making industry of Cebu has been thriving, reflecting people’s undying love for music. Customers have come from far and wide to own a Cebu-made guitar, regarded for its superb sound and playability.  

Steve Dagoc, marketing manager of the Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafter, recounts how it all began. “It was the Spaniards who first settled in Cebu that passed on the art and skill of guitar-making to Filipinos. In 1919, my grandfather ventured into making handcrafted instruments.”

The love for the craft never left the family, as Steve’s father was a classical guitar player in the University of San Jose-Recoletos varsity team before it was his turn to run the shop. He saw distinction in their products and recognized the potential in elevating their craft.

The business began formally operating in the 70s under the name “Custom Guitar” in Lincoln Street, Cebu City. By the late 80s and 90s, they moved to a location that couldn’t be any better – a popular tourist destination and the province’s guitar-making capital, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.  Grounded in musical expertise and the vision to capture a greater market, the Dagoc family rebranded the shop and called it – Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafter – a portmanteau of Steve’s parent’s names: Fernando and Angelita.  The business not only produced high quality instruments for music lovers but also income opportunities for skilled luthiers in the area.

Continuing the legacy

Throughout the years, Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafters has been among the most trusted names in the industry. It consistently grows its following by providing value added services such as making custom-built pieces, repairs, and new string instruments like ukuleles. 

Steve emphasizes the importance of using the best quality of wood to produce the best quality instruments. With the country’s rich natural resources, it’s no surprise that locally made Cebu guitars have a strong competitive edge. “A few years ago, it was rare to find mango-wood guitars in the United States. They couldn’t even believe that it could be made into great-sounding instruments.” 

“Mango wood produces warm and mellow tones while Jackfruit makes bright tones. We also have a Gel-Series guitar collection, made of Narra plywood, a more affordable option, but still made of fine quality solid wood. We pay close attention to the assembly of our instruments because there are many factors that affect sound quality.”  

Marching to a new beat

The young entrepreneur also continues to strengthen their online presence and has found a dependable logistics provider in FedEx. 

FedEx understands that shipping guitars comes with a specific set of standards to ensure their pristine condition. The instruments are packed in specially made hard cases that must be kept in low humidity packaging and be able to withstand temperature changes once it leaves the Philippines and journeys to other countries. FedEx is no stranger to shipping curious items that require special handling like turtle eggs, wine, and even white tigers.

“To compete in the global arena, we have to constantly revamp our operations to keep up with the times. We have been exporting for quite some time now. Customers are recognizing our brand and inquiring through emails. While we became known by word-of-mouth, I know that’s not enough.”

Ferangeli’s foray into online retail was marked by a static website, containing only basic product information. Now, that website has evolved into an e-commerce platform that is able to seamlessly deliver the gift of music around the world, exporting to customers in Switzerland, France, and the United States. As Ferangeli ramps up to cater to growing cross border sales, they trust FedEx to provide logistics solutions and tools

“Fedexenables us to easily manage our deliveries and determine the right shipping rates for our customers through the FedEx Ship Manager and Billing Online.”

FedEx has a network built for what’s next and is able to support SMEs to go global even in shifting global trade patterns. Visit the FedEx LinkedIn page  to get inspired by the success stories of entrepreneurs and enterprises across the Asia Pacific region.

Experience the legacy of world-class craftsmanship and witness how Cebu’s Ferangeli explores new genres, and more on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

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