From street sweeper to tableya maker to business owner
Elsa Polot shares secret to her success
MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — A mother from Tagbilaran City, Bohol has managed to send her five kids to college from the earnings that she saved from making and selling homemade tableya (cacao tablets).
Elsa Polot, 58, was working as a street sweeper in 1994 when she started to roast cacao beans and produced the tableya that she would sell to neighbors.
She would also walk the streets of Tagbilaran City to sell her tableya.
Fast forward to 2023, all of her five children are now professionals.
The Polot family has also transformed their small family home in Barangay Booy into a Chocolate House that is now a favorite destination for locals and foreign guests who wanted to taste Elsa’s famous hot choco.
The two-storey structure that opened in September 2017, houses their production area on the ground floor and their display area on its upper floor.
Asked what was the secret to her success, Elsa said, “it’s in the roasting” of cacao beans.
“Basta mosalig sa Ginoo, naa jud tay maani,” Elsa said.
(If we trust in God, we can really get something.)
One of Elsa’s daughters, Dalareich, has already taken over of the family business to especially lead product innovation and new packaging designs.
Dalareich, 34, has also earned the monicker as the “chocolate princess” because of her innovations and the various awards that she has received from international award giving bodies.
As a street sweeper
Elsa said she never thought that she would enjoy the kind of life that she now had.
She worked as a street sweeper in 1994 to make sure that she would have extra cash to send her children – Irene, Dalareich, Renel, Jessa, and Angelah – to school.
But the income that she earned as a street sweeper for four years, combined with the earnings that her husband, Ricardo, would earn as a tricycle driver, was barely enough for their family’s needs.
Elsa said she then decided to venture into tableya-making to augment her income.
She chose the business because most Boholanos could not be without their cup of hot choco in the morning.
Tableya-maker by day
Elsa said that she would sweep the streets of Tagbilaran City at dawn then she would start to roast cacao beans when she would get home by 8 a.m.
After she produces her tableya, she would then start to walk the city streets to sell these.
When Boholanos started to take notice of her small business, the demand for her tableya also started to grow.
Elsa said she decided to loan money to add to her capital.
When she started to produce more, she also started to supply malls in the city.
“Nagampo gyod ko sa Ginoo nga dili na ko makalending og usab,” she recalled.
(I prayed to God that he will help me not to borrow money again.)
Elsa said that when her children, especially Dalareich, graduated from college, they started to takeover their family business.
“Pagkahuman sa akong mga anak, ila na gipalambo, tan-aw sa packagaking,” she said.
(After my kids graduated, they improved it, the look through packaging.)
Dalareich, who finished Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, also studied in Belgium to learn the latest technology in tableya-making and started buying the machines that they were now using in their production area.
She then led their innovation of new products. And after she won the APEC 2019 Business Efficiency and Success Target (BEST) Award, Dalareich and her siblings started to export their tableya to Japan, Australia, and Sweden.
Dalareich, the founder and CEO of Ginto Fine Chocolates and the co-founder of Dalareich Food Products/ Dalareich Chocolate House, said the lockdown that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic gave her the opportunity to focus on exporting their products.
Family members worked on producing their unsweetened chocolate while she also attended to potential buyers online.
With the lifting of pandemic restrictions, five of their workers were again asked to report for work. They also have several OJTs working at the Chocolate House.
At present, Dalareich said she was working on new products, one of which was a milk chocolate that was not dairy based. Instead, she used coconut milk and coconut sugar to make a milk chocolate for those who were vegan and lactose intolerant.
Credit to Mama
“I credit all the things, all the achievements and all the awards because of mama,” Dalareich said.
“Filipino mindset nga ang tableya dili man makaasenso, but this is a testimony nga kami we were able to go to college because of tableya. You just need to innovate and we use already machines from Europe to make our tableya,” she added.
(The Filipino mindset is that tableya cannot make one’s life better, but this is a testimony that we were able to go to college because of tableya. You just need to innovate and we use already machines from Europe to make our tableya.)
And while they continued to innovate, Dalareich said, they also continued to produce the homemade tableya that their mother used to sell.
They also decided to keep its old packing, wrapped in ordinary plastic, and have these on display in a portion of their display shelf for those who would prefer the good old hot chocolate of their mother Elsa.
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