Negros Trade Fair returns after 3 years

Jeeves de Veyra

Posted at Sep 19 2022 06:02 PM

BACOLOD -- The long-running Negros Trade Fair is back with a vengeance!

The last iteration of the fair was back in 2019. As with most endeavors during the lockdown, the fair moved online with the development of an online shopping portal in parallel with the launch of the Association of Negros Producers (ANP) Hub. 

Still, nothing beats the sights, sounds, smells, and flavors only a face-to-face trade fair can offer.

 Appropriately enough, this year’s theme is “Hidlaw” or Hiligaynon for “yearning.”

The producers participating in the Negros Trade Fair. Jeeves de Veyra
The producers participating in the Negros Trade Fair. Jeeves de Veyra

“Hidlaw in terms of gathering, hidlaw for the food, and hidlaw for friendships. It’s a matter of putting things together again,” 36th NTF chairperson Mike Claparols said at the recent media launch of the trade Fair at the ANP Hub in Bacolod City.

The ANP Hub Negros Showroom in Bacolod. Jeeves de Veyra
The ANP Hub Negros Showroom in Bacolod. Jeeves de Veyra

The fair is organized by the ANP for member companies to not only display their products but also to network and breach the bigger markets of Metro Manila and beyond.

36th NTF chairman Mike Claparols, ANP chairperson Ina Gaston, and NTF vice chair Maryann Colmenares with some of the pioneer exhibitors of the first trade fair in 1985 -- Virginia Chua of Virgie's, Maritess Cuenca of El Ideal Bakery and Cecil Ploteña of Clara's.
36th NTF chairman Mike Claparols, ANP chairperson Ina Gaston, and NTF vice chair Maryann Colmenares with some of the pioneer exhibitors of the first trade fair in 1985 -- Virginia Chua of Virgie's, Maritess Cuenca of El Ideal Bakery and Cecil Ploteña of Clara's.

After the sugar crisis hit Negros island in the late '70s, there was a massive need to change and learn new skills by Negrenses of all classes. From hacienda owners to farmers and workers out in the fields, the focus shifted to food and creative industries such as home décor and handicrafts. Eventually, the first Negros Trade Fair was held in an Ayala parking lot with 14 housewives displaying their wares back in 1985.

From its humble beginnings, the Negros Trade Fair has distinguished itself as the longest running provincial trade fair in the country. Many Negros-based enterprises got their start with the ANP and the Negros Trade Fair, with some even exporting their goods abroad.

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The first day will kick off with the ringing of the Arima bell and a performance of the San Carlos City Chamber Orchestra and Choir. 

This year’s fair is much bigger and will occupy both the Palm Drive and main Glorietta activity centers with over 60 booths representing the natural and organic food, garments, fashion accessories, furniture, décor, houseware, agriculture and tourism sectors. 

Negros cities and LGUs will also be present consolidating their products into their respective booths.

The San Carlos City Orchestra and Choir. Jeeves de Veyra
The San Carlos City Orchestra and Choir. Jeeves de Veyra

Look around the booths for handicrafts, garments, fashion accessories, furniture, décor, and houseware. Many of these products are the result of the successful pivot away from sugar-related work and upskilling to other industries.

Sugar workers pivoted to handicrafts and home industries. Jeeves de Veyra
Sugar workers pivoted to handicrafts and home industries. Jeeves de Veyra

Look also for textiles and silk as Negros is home to the OISCA Sericulture Training Centers, the largest and silk processing facility in the country.

Silk from OISCA. Jeeves de Veyra
Silk from OISCA. Jeeves de Veyra

It wouldn’t be a Negros event without what the island is best known for --the food.

The eating area from the 34th NTF makes a welcome return for hungry visitors to savor fresh hot Negrense specialties. Having packaged piaya reheated is one thing, but having it fresh from the griddle is something else entirely. 

Special items such as the chorizo piaya, a collaboration with chorizo from Ereñeta Manaloto Chorizo, cheese from Casa Del Formaggio, and made by Fresh Start will be offered at the fair as well.

Chorizo piaya. Jeeves de Veyra
Chorizo piaya. Jeeves de Veyra

As with a real trip to Negros, expect to leave with a lot of Negros staples like muscovado sugar, cakes, pastries, sinamak, as well as barquillos, rosquillos, and guapple pie from pasalubong specialists such as Felicias, Virgie's, and El Ideal Bakery, which will be around to fill up guests’ eco bags.

Expect to take home a lot of pasalubong from the trade fair. Jeeves de Veyra
Expect to take home a lot of pasalubong from the trade fair. Jeeves de Veyra

One thing is for sure, once the 36th Negros Trade Fair wraps up, visitors will feel “hidlaw” for the next one.

The 36th Negros Trade Fair will held at the Glorietta Activity Center and will be open to the public from September 21 to 25 during mall hours. Admission to the fair is free. 

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