food businesses

This student-owned local brand serves ‘legen-dairy’ gelato made from carabao’s milk

Cheska Lingad

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This student-owned local brand serves ‘legen-dairy’ gelato made from carabao’s milk

Photos from Araro, Cheska Lingad/Rappler

Ararô serves Filipino-inspired gelato flavors like Tablea, Salted Leche Flan, and Carabao Milk!

MANILA, Philippines – Gelato has become a beloved dessert for many Filipinos, especially in the unwavering heat of Metro Manila. And while there are a few popular shops to get your Italian dessert fix from, do they serve Filipino-style gelato? Rising new local brand, Ararô, does!

Ararô serves gelato with unique flavors that add a Filipino spin to your average pint of Italian ice cream. What’s even more interesting is that they use carabao’s milk instead of cow’s milk as their key ingredient! Owned by student-entrepreneurs, Ararô is now making waves on social media and in various pop-up events and bazaars within the city, because of the way it caters to the Filipino palate.

About the ‘legen-dairy’ brand

Ararô was founded by a group of undergraduates who were tasked to create a business as their thesis project. Veering away from the usual bags and clothing items that were typically done by peers, Jorel Aleta (Chief Executive Officer), Adrian Peza (Chief Marketing Officer), AV Luarca (Chief Operations Officer), and Adriana Gozun (Chief Sales Officer) decided to produce gelato, but with Filipino-inspired flavors in mind as their unique selling point.

“Gelato is something that’s eaten year-round by any age group, so it’s easy to attract customers and maintain relationships with them,” Jorel told Rappler. 

Ararô’s earned a second unique selling point when their thesis adviser suggested that they make use of carabao’s milk in their recipes instead of the usual cow’s milk, which is used in classic gelato. 

“This would also allow us to, at the same time, serve and support an underappreciated local community,” Jorel said.

For those who aren’t familiar, araro means “plow” in Filipino. Redefining gelato by using carabao’s milk sourced from local farmers, the brand name is a nod to the farming and carabao community that Ararô works with. 

“The name showcases the daily work of Filipino farmers as they cultivate and harvest rice. It reflects why the carabao is the Filipino farmer’s best friend,” AV explained.

The accent on the letter “o” was added for aesthetic purposes, but coincidentally, it looks like an upside down ice cream cone!

Sourcing their carabao’s milk from a farming community in Rosario, Batangas, Ararô wishes to highlight the potential of local carabao communities to the market. Since available dairy products in the Philippines are often imported, sourcing from local farmers will show “the capability of the carabao’s milk to be as good or even better than imported milk.”

“Then, we’re able to help the local farming communities and hopefully, in the future, see them grow with dairy companies sourcing their milk from these communities [as well],” Jorel continued.

Attending classes while managing a business, the students behind Ararô worked with a few limitations when they first endeavored into this start-up. 

“When it came to production, during our first two months it would take us two whole days to finish [producing] about 100 pints, and we’d do this every week,” Jorel shared. “On the first day, we’d work from 1 pm to 4 am, then we’d sleep. The next day, we’d wake up at 9 am just to finish the churning until 8 pm.”

Their churning process is still done in one of their houses. However, they’re now capable of producing nearly triple the number of pints in the same number of hours, thanks to investments in equipment and constant research.

Ararô first launched their products online via Instagram and Facebook in January 2023. Their start-up began to pick up more traction when they joined their first pop-up event at the Makati Street Meet in Paseo de Roxas on March 4 and 5.

“We were able to get inquiries from cafés and event organizers for reselling, partnerships, collaborations, and party packages,” Jorel said. “Because of this we continuously try to join more bazaars and events.”

Since then, Ararô has made multiple appearances in different events such as the Makati Food and Wine Festival, Makati Food Festival, Chase the Sun at Ayala Land Premier Showroom, and Weekend Socials in the Podium. They are also a recurring merchant in Paseo de Roxas.

Flavors made ‘four’ everyone

While there are currently only four flavors to choose from, each Ararô pint offers a Filipino twist that sets the brand apart from other gelato brands.

Carabao Milk is an ode to the classic vanilla, but packed with nutrients from carabao’s milk. With its subtle taste and smooth texture, you can never really go wrong when you order this original. If you’re hesitant to try out the more unconventional flavors (but honestly, there’s no reason to be), this one’s your safest option. The Carabao Milk flavor costs P369 per pint (16oz).

Pegged as “the most underrated flavor” by Jorel, the Salted Leche Flan is definitely one that deserves more appreciation. It’s a creamy salted caramel flavor that’s swirled with chunks of the Filipino favorite dessert. If you are torn between sweet and salty, this one’s the flavor for you. The Salted Leche Flan costs P419 per pint (16oz).

Made with 100% cacao beans sourced from Davao farmers, the Tablea flavor is rich, decadent, and not too sweet. Fans of dark chocolate may especially enjoy this one as it has that blend of sweetness and bitterness. According to Ararô’s CMO Adrian, it’s also the best-seller! The Tablea costs P389 per pint (16oz).

The newest flavor, Strawberry Cheesecake, is CSO Adriana’s favorite, and personally, it’s mine too! Blending freshly-picked strawberries, cheesecake, and finely-crushed graham, this flavor has sweetness with a slight tang from the fresh fruit. For the Filipino touch, they use kesong puti bits to round off the cheesy experience. The Strawberry Cheesecake costs P439 per pint (16oz).

Ararô accepts online orders and also offers event packages. They will be releasing two new flavors in June. For more information and updates, you can check out Ararô’s Instagram. –

Cheska Lingad is a Rappler intern.

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