CalaBoo: Carabao Dairy Products Built on Faith and LoveJanuary 31, 2017
Marie Cavosora has lived across the globe since she left her home in the Philippines at age 17—from Singapore to Hong Kong, San Francisco to New York, Amsterdam to Canada, Palawan to Laguna—but there is no place that she has ever thrived so much as the home she has made in GK Enchanted Farm. Visiting the farm as a volunteer in 2012, Cavosora would have never guessed that she would call the place her home and that it would be the place where she would pursue one of her dreams that she didn’t quite give her full shot: to make amazing butter.
She laughs when she looks back at the way that dream was ever even realized. She could not even explain where the desire came from, but she left her job in San Francisco for Upstate New York to pursue it, only to realize that she did not connect with the community; it simply did not feel like home. The dream was soon dropped. Later on, she confesses, she eat-pray-loved across the globe, ending up back home in the Philippines where she lived in Palawan and ate raw food for a year, until finally, she found herself at GK Enchanted Farm.
I can’t imagine being anywhere in the world. If I got offered the best job . . . anywhere in the world, I cannot. There’s no way.”
It never clicked in her head that the dream to make butter would happen here, much less at all. Initially, Cavosora picked up where an abandoned GK social enterprise was abandoned, but gave it a new name, look, and entirely revamped concept: the fun, accessible and premium carabao dairy brand of CalaBoo (a play off the word carabao, and two words stemming from the middle letters “lab” are highlighted in pink). “Lab” literally means laboratory, which GK has served for them in a way as they create new products with the top-of-the-line dairy, and also “love,” what they credit as the main force that drives the brand. Essentially the only thing remaining from the old company is the carabao dairy concept, but Cavosora, with her extensive background in advertising and food marketing, has made the brand her own.
Though she throws her hands up and disavows any ownership over CalaBoo. “This is not my company. It is something I have stewardship over,” she states. “We are nurturing [GK community members] to become the future leaders of this organization so for me I see myself less hands on in 5 years, and in 10 years…” Well, she expects it to be entirely led and handled by the young leaders from the GK community like May (who handles farm operations and sales), whom she and her partners, Jennifer Viloria and Titos Ortigas, are grooming. And in this social enterprise, they are creating top of the line carabao dairy products with natural, added hormone-free yogurt, cheese and butter. All their products have an average of three to four ingredients to keep them as pure as possible. The milk, though pasteurized, does not undergo UHT to preserve as much of its natural nutrients, of which carabao milk is abundant.
You take the initiative to find what you can do, offer your expertise and just make it work. At the farm, we say touch-move. If you have an idea, make it happen.”
But she admits the path to becoming a social entrepreneur was not an easy one to take. “I’m not a business person. My background is advertising and marketing. [I thought,] ‘No way am I going to run my own business. It’s too far out.’ So I decided to volunteer, actually with help from Jen. With the encouragement from Jen and Titos (I met them at the summit 2 years ago) . . . I volunteered first. Then I became part of the farm management team, just to see where I could fit.”
And fit, she did, becoming a mentor and friend to several of the GK community members and SEED students on the farm. Eventually, with time, starting a social enterprise seemed inevitable, and she couldn’t see herself in any place else in the world, telling us, “This is where I belong . . . This is where I fall in love everyday. And [this love], I pour into our products. But not just me. It’s May. It’s Jen. It’s Titos. It’s our partners at PCC. [It’s everyone involved] pouring their love into what we do.”
Right now, they are reaching out to select specialty stores and partners for distribution. “We look for partners that also share the advocacy, ’cause it is a social enterprise,” says Cavosora. “So for us it’s not [just] about selling the product but also telling the story and really opening people’s minds in terms of making conscious decisions in the food that they buy—not just for the health of their body but also the wellness of the people around them.”
“The tagline of CalaBoo is ‘Taste the love, naturally.’ So it’s love for the self, because you’re looking at healthy, minimally processed whole foods. Love for community, because we support GK communities . . . and love for country, because we really want to purvey excellence and . . . because we want to show Filipinos that we are capable of greatness.”
High-quality carabao dairy products that offer cheese, yogurt and butter, and will continue to innovate products that they can add to their roster.