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.
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.
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.