Founders

DAVID OSMENA

Having been born into a large Filipino family and migrating to the United States, Dave appreciates all

aspects of living among multiple cultures.  Dave has always found inspiration in sharing food and ideas

over a drink with as many people as possible. He spends his off time traveling and had a career in the

environmental industry where he met co-founders Jota and Mike.  These experiences thought him the

importance of producing products in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.  After learning

how lambanog is created, Dave became convinced it would be an ideal product to share with the world.

A batch of lambanog uses no fertilizers or pesticides.  Artificial irrigation is not required in growing the

trees.  They are spirits produced naturally and distilled by artisans in small batches.  

 

Currently living in Southern California, you will find Dave in the ocean as much as possible or sharing a

glass of Papo Js with old and new friends.

SHOHTOKU JOTA

Living around the world for most of his life has given Jota a deep appreciation of the diversity in spirits

that exists. Always curious to try to new tastes and food pairings led Jota to try a relatively unknown

clear spirit that co-founder Dave raved about and a friend brought back from his travels to the

Philippines. Intrigued by its clean taste palate and lack of that "alcohol bite" at the end, he travelled to

the Philippines to the find out more about this clear spirit known as lambanog, and how it was distilled.

 

The story of the workers climbing the coconut trees to grab the nectar, the old copper stills used to

distill the liquid, and the joy and family-spirit that lambanog brought to the community convinced him

that it needed to be shared stateside. Currently residing in Hong Kong, Jota is an avid traveler, coffee

drinker, and is excited to tell the story of lambanog with anyone willing to listen.

MICHAEL BORJA

Family, friends and music have always been the foundation of Michael Borja’s life.  Born in Pittsburgh,

Pennsylvania to an Ilonggo mother and Tagalog father, Mike’s parents both met here in the U.S. after

immigrating from the Philippines in 1969.  Both parents provided a base that included the importance of

family, friends and music while exposing their children the core understanding of the Filipino culture, a

society known to many with the reputation of bringing people and communities together.  Mike’s

musical talents led him to form a band in high school with his friends as the lead singer while developing

the craft of songwriting, which continued into his college years in Boston.  After his graduate studies in

Chicago, Mike moved to Los Angeles in 1995 to work for an environmental engineering firm during the

day and performed his original songs in the evenings at coffee shops throughout the west side of the

city.  In 1996, Mike formed the band Louden Swain with his friends Rob Benedict, Stephen Norton, and

later Billy Moran.  As a true DIY band, Louden Swain released a series of impressively accomplished

albums while touring throughout North America, Europe, and Australia.  Over the past two decades, the

band has developed a dedicated social media following.

In 2004, Mike met Jota Shohtoku and David Osmena at his “day job,” and there, they developed a strong

bond and friendship through food, music and spirits, namely lambanog.  Jota and Dave approached Mike

with the idea of starting a lambanog company with the requirement that the core values of this liquor

be produced in an environmentally and socially sustainable approach.  Papo Js Lambanog is the product

that brings all those core principles together.  Papo Js started as a DIY company and with the help of the

fans, has developed a strong social media following.

More importantly, Papo Js Lambanog brings the Filipino culture to the forefront and the forces that are

significant in life.