CEBU’S Chocolate Queen married as a teenager and now has eight children between the ages of 25 and 10.
When people see her, it’s not unusual for them to say: “How does Raquel Toquero Choa maintain her statuesque figure and perfect bronzed complexion?”
The woman behind the celebrated The Chocolate Chamber (TCC) and Ralfe Gourmet, whose claim to fame started with weekly chocolate buffet nights in 2012, shared with Cebu Daily News her beauty secrets last March 30 when we visited her Queendom in Casal’s Village for the exclusive preview of her new offerings in the House of Maria Cacao:
A cup of sikwate in the morning
What’s a chocolate queen without her cup of sikwate (local chocolate drink) in the morning. Before she starts her day, Raquel never forgets to fill her system with sikwate. “It sets the mood right for the day. After a cup of sikwate, I am ready to face the day ahead of me,” she said. Early this year, Raquel announced that she is rolling out “Batirol,” a spin-off of TCC that adopts the to-go concept. The first Batirol kiosk stands outside the TCC branch in barangay Kasambagan near Sarrosa International Hotel.
Chocolate wrap with cacao lava
The smell of chocolate is Raquel’s refuge from a hectic day considering the myriad of business engagememts she attends to on a daily basis. Her secret? Enveloping herself with what she calls “cacao lava,” a new product under the self-titled skincare line “Raquel.” The scent of chocolate calms her down, she said.
The same cacao lava is also used by Raquel as a make-up primer. (See sidebar on “Make-up tips from Janice, the Beauty Fairy”) Massage with theobroma oil Remember this name: Maricel Marquez. No, she’s not a movie star. But she can very well be every woman’s best friend as she is Raquel’s trusted massage therapist for three years now. Maricel uses the theobroma oil from the Raquel line during massage sessions.
The theobroma oil is cacao butter in liquid form and can be used as a skin moisturizer. It can also be mixed with cacao lava when applying it as a make-up primer.
Paint with chocolate
Raquel is an artist and one of her passions is to create artworks using chocolate as a medium. Some of these pieces can be found at the House of Maria Cacao, which she recently opened to showcase products made and inspired by chocolates. Candles and soaps made of cacao and its by-products are displayed in the “house.” Raquel welcomes women entrepreneurs and artists to collaborate with her by bringing in their products and ideas to the House of Maria Cacao.
Pray with the heart
Raquel remains humble on top of the successes she has reaped in the last five years. She is constantly reminded of the times she spent as a child in the mountains of Balamban where she learned how to make the local chocolate called tablea, the inspiration behind her successful business ventures.
Raquel starts and ends her day with a grateful prayer to the One who made it possible for her to thrive in the business of putting the Philippines in the world map of chocolate production.