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My Second Act (Part 3) - Xilca Alvarez – Winning Cases In The Courtroom And On The Farm

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Xilca Alvarez – Winning Cases In The Courtroom And On The Farm

Description: Xilca Alvarez

Xilca Alvarez

It was supposed to be a joke, a crazy idea thrown into the conversation for a shallow laugh. But some people took Xilca Alvarez, 31, seriously and thought her idea could actually work. Among them as Gawad Kalinga (GK) founder Tony Meloto, who put her good-humored proposition to the test.

It seemed funny then, but it’s now all serious business as Xilca, a government lawyer by profession, oversees operations for Gourmet Keso. “Prior to getting into this food endeavor, I was doing litigation for six years. It might sound boring, but I loved filing pleadings, debunking arguments of opposing counsel, and of course, winning cases that captured public interest. And what I loved about being a public defender was fighting for my indigent clients’ rights.”

Apart from defending them, Xilca also sought every opportunity to help the underprivileged set. She gave first-time offenders and ex-convicts a chance to earn a living, partnering with them to produce dishwashing liquid and fabric conditioner under a brand called Clean Slate. This first venture in social entrepreneurship fueled her passion even more. She attended the GK Center for Social Innovation forum at Ateneo de Manila University and became so enthralled with the idea of Gawad Kalinga being a sort of Silicon Valley for social enterprises. The very next day, she trooped to GK’s Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan, where a piggery became subject to her humor. “Why not an agri-business called Gawad Kambingan, which will supply Gatas ng Kambing and even Gourmet Kaldereta?” Tony saw the potential behind the humor and gave Xilca a copy of his book, Builder of Dreams, to inspire her. It worked.

Description: Enchanted Farm Café

Enchanted Farm Café

In February 2011, the lawyer buried her head in books and studied cheese-making, bought and brought goats from Batangas to Bulacan, experimented on the production of cheeses, and not long after, came up with the Gourmet Kaso line – feta in extra virgin olive oil, ricotta, kesong puti, and plain and flavored chevre. Since then, Xilca has gone on to build an operational dairy kitchen at the farm and produce another item, Café de Sug, coffee from Sulu. “I get a kick out of it when people mistakenly think our items are imported. They’re floored when I say that the cheeses and coffee are made by the residents of the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm.”

Gourmet Keso is available at Enchanted Farm Café at Unit 2A 463 Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City or at the GK Enchanted Farm in Barangay Encanto, Angat, Bulacan. For more information, call 0917-8194522 or 211-1455.

Say cheese!

Want to learn the art and business of cheese-making? Take your cue from Xilca Alvarez.

Description: Say cheese!

Say cheese!

·         Take a risk!

“I think you have to be a little crazy. You have to be willing to take risks even if logic dictates otherwise. And by logic, I mean your parents, your savings, your law degree. Sincerity, coupled with a little craziness, is the right recipe for getting into the cheese business.”

·         Love what you make

“I make no business experience, no formal training in cheese-making. I don’t consider myself a connoisseur but I love to eat cheese, so I can say my marketing background is based on me being a long-time consumer of the product.”

·         Be ready to work hard

“Logistics and transport of dairy products can be difficult, so be patient. The products are highly perishable; they have to be transported and stored in a chilled environment; and they must be made under the most sanitary conditions. It’s an ongoing challenge for me.”

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