A gift of friends, and also chocolate

My last week has been filled with anxiety and sadness. Most of it is the feeling of loneliness, of being alone. It’s been a common refrain in my life when I’m feeling low: how I’m always having to care for people and not only not have it reciprocated, but to have them weaponise my vulnerability and use it against me. But I keep caring, because that’s how I’m built, and I keep getting hurt, because I’m stupid like that.

But even as this was going on, people have been popping out of the woodwork, proving me wrong. Friends have offered to bring me coffee, have offered me a place to stay, a shoulder to cry on, basically reminding me that if I can stop feeling sorry for myself for a minute, I’ll realise that I do have a support system, that I don’t have to go through this alone.

And today, I got chocolates.

I had mentioned to a friend that I missed Theo+Philo chocolates, and that I had one bar when lockdown started and I’d been chocolate-less for weeks. She promptly made her brother Philo, who makes the bars, send me a few bars to tide me over till ECQ is lifted.

Let me tell you about Theo+Philo. it is the first bean to bar chocolate in the country. I have been a supporter even when it was just an idea Philo had after returning from working in the US as a graphic designer who developed a fondness for baking and artisanal chocolates.

I remember being really excited as my friend explained that her brother was going around Davao sourcing cacao for his own brand of chocolate. The only artisanal chocolate I had tried before that was Vosges Haut-Chocolat from Chicago, so I knew what he was going for and was thrilled that we would get something like that here.

That was 10 years ago.

Now the brand is stringer than ever, consistently winning international awards for quality and flavor innovation. It’s packaging design has always been gorgeous, always including elements that represent the Philippines.

I’ve been having to save money, as has most people during the quarantine, but this little gift will go a long way in helping me feel less deprived.

To me, these chocolate bars represent a sort of normalcy. They’re a reminder of a fairly good life before COVID-19 (this was just a few months ago) and the hope of having the strength and courage to be able to thrive after.

Thank you, Leah and Philo for the chocolates, and thank you to everyone who’s reached out for your love and support. I’m lucky to have you all as friends.


Yvette Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and a lifestyle writer for major local and international titles.