VALERIE LUMANOG highlights how a mother’s simple experiments with cheese have blossomed into good business. With reports by JOJIE ALCANTARA
|It all began when, wanting to satisfy and impress her children, Davao-based Olive Puentespina started making cheese in her own kitchen. Little did she know that this simple act of motherly love would give birth to a new venture—homemade Philippine cheese. Thus began her journey into the wonderful world of cheeses filled with experimentations, tasting, and mentoring from local and Swiss cheese experts—in a desire to let the Filipino public get access to local homemade cheese. In 2006, Malagos Farmhouse Cheeses was introduced to the market.|
Olive’s cheese is made from fresh milk from young does raised on her mother-in-law’s farm, popularly known as the Malagos Farm in Davao City. The family originally had only 30 goats, but now they have more than 300.
Aside from the fact that Malagos Farmhouse offers Philippine-style cheese, one factor that led to their success is the freshness of their products—their cheese is processed on the same milking day. Perfect for health-conscious eaters, their cheeses contain very low sodium. Another trademark of their cheeses is that they are made to suit local taste—they don’t have that pungent aroma common among European cheeses, but carry the same creaminess, softness, and crumbliness of gourmet cheeses. It’s no surprise that their cheese has impressed not just local foodies and chefs, but also European cheesemakers.
Malagos’ signature cheeses include the Goat Cheese Feta, Chèvre, Blue Goat Cheese, and Blush (Manchego Blue Cheese with a pinkish tint brought about by being soaked in Malagos Bignay wine). For Blue Peppato (Blue Cheese with peppercorns), Malagos Farmhouse uses milk from young cows. To date, the farm has created 26 kinds of cheese. It also produces cacao beans, tableya (local chocolate), fruit wine, empty ostrich eggs for decorations and paintings, and leather.
Olive created four kinds of cheese for Philippine Airlines’ business class flights: Blush, Blue Goat Cheese, Peppato, and Mango Chèvre. Exclusive to the airline is the Chèvre with Davao dried mangoes served in a cheese platter. Other reputable names in the Philippines that carry Malagos Farmhouse Cheeses include Makati and Edsa Shangri-La hotels, The Peninsula Manila, and Rustan’s Supermarket in Manila. They also supply cheese to Spirale, Swiss Deli, Chimes, Claude’s and Ronaldo’s in Davao, and Dedon Island Resort in Siargao.
As the late Larry Cruz, who started one of the Philippines’ most successful restaurant chains, the LJC Group, once said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Malagos Farmhouse is located at Bolcan St., Agdao, Davao City; +6382 226 4446; www.malagosfarmhouse.com