The Philippines

Edsel and Hilda Giolagon live in the hamlet of Maligatong, Tawan-Tawan with their 5 children. It’s also located in Davao, a region that produces over 75% of the cacao in the Philippines. In their 30s, the Giolagons both have high school educations, and have been farming for as long as they’ve owned their farm—since 2001! They have planted an incredible 1,000 cacao trees on their 1-hectare farm, where they also grow coconut, banana, durian, mangosteen, and lansones.

The Giolagons buy all of their drinking water and usually wash their clothes in the nearby river. Lacking a direct connection to the electrical grid, power comes via a long metered cable. With kids aged 2 to 14, they’ve got 2 future engineers, a teacher, and a doctor in the family. (And one undecided.)

Reyante and Liezelda Darunday are in their early-40s and live in the Lacson area of Davao, on the island of Mindanao. The family of five has been farming for 12 years and owned their farm since 2015. Along with the 500 cacao trees on their 1.4 hectares, they also farm mangosteen, coconuts, banana, lansones, and durian. 

In addition to farming, Reynate is a professional carpenter and chainsaw operator. And as he and his wife both have elementary school educations, they are thrilled that all three of their teenage children aspire to be teachers!

Renaldo and Bebalen Gicole live in nearby Wangan, also in Davao, where they raise their 3 boys. At 55, the college-educated Renaldo has been farming for 10 years, while 38-year-old Bebalen has 5 years more experience. However, the farm has been in the family since 1981! With 2.5 hectares, they tend to over 900 cacao trees, as well as mango, coconut, banana, and durian.

The couple also has a merchandising business for tableya, the popular molded nibs of 100% cacao, while the Gicole boys have a range of career aspirations, from businessman to soldier to engineer.