BY THE EDITION
Since 1985, the Negros Trade Fair has paid tribute to the sugar industry, telling stories of heritage, food, and art, and providing a venue for small- to medium-sized enterprises from Negros to showcase their respective takes on Negrense culture.
Now in its third decade, the fair continues to feature many of the same products and food items from its early years, while introducing the next generation of vendors and their more modern interpretations of what the province has to offer. At the recent preview of the Negros Trade Fair held at Antonio’s (its multi-awarded chef Tony Boy Escalante is himself a native of Negros, and a staunch supporter of the fair), the organizing committee announced this year’s theme: “Sweet Talk: Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice.”
COURTESY OF THE NEGROS TRADE FAIR
The restaurant’s lanai was transformed to display the varied selection of offerings at the forthcoming run in September—from trendy handwoven purses and accessories to artisan piaya with assorted fillings. Though exhibitors are always encouraged to make use of sugar and its by-products, the fair’s modern mission is to highlight some of the other industries in Negros, such as furniture and home decor, clothing and accessories, and agriculture, which provide alternative sources of income for local communities.
COURTESY OF THE NEGROS TRADE FAIR
The 33rd Negros Trade Fair Organizing Committee: Treena Tecson (PR Consultant), Mariel San Agustin (Domesticity), Isabel Lozano (Antonio’s), Banj Claparols (Creative Definitions), Cata Ereñeta-Manaloto (Ereñeta-Manaloto Chorizo), Albert Avellana, Tony Boy Escalante (Antonio’s), Nena Vargas Tantoco, Merry Ann Colmenares (Artisana Island Crafts), Ina Gaston (Hacienda Crafts), Ynez Reyes (Negros Trade Fair), Joey Gaston (Hacienda Crafts), and Mike Claparols (Creative Definitions)
“I was at the very first Negros Trade Fair 33 years ago, and 33 years later, I’m still here—with different products, but with the same passion to promote our province and to showcase the best of what we make,” says Merry Ann Colmenares, the former president of Negros Trade Fair and founder and designer of Artisana Island Crafts, which exports Philippine handicrafts around the world. Cata Ereneta-Manaloto, a third-generation producer of a chorizo recipe handed down by her grandmother from the 1930s, shares that this will be her second year at the fair. “The mission is to continue the family legacy, and to put Negros on the longganisa map of the Philippines.”
With the passage of time inevitably comes the inclusion of the next generation of purveyors with fresh ideas on how to preserve and promote products traditionally rooted in Negros. “The fair has evolved and now includes a lot of food—and with food comes agriculture, which is the backbone of Negros economy. It’s something we’ve taken for granted in the past, but now we’re developing it and integrating it in our advocacy,” explains Hacienda Crafts’ Joey Gaston, a member of the Negros Trade Fair’s organizing committee. “Another upcoming industry that we’re supporting is tourism. The heritage of Negros has contributed so much to Philippine culture and the arts. This is something we’re trying to share with everyone.”
The 33rd Negros Trade Fair runs from September 26 to 30, 2018, at the Glorietta Activity Center, Glorietta 3, Makati.