Friday, August 15, 2014

Smiles Beyond Borders

So goes the theme of the 29th Negros Trade Fair scheduled for September 24-28 at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati. Moved by the destitution that followed the Bohol earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda, the Association of Negros Producers (ANP), organizer of this annual exhibition, has challenged its members to share the blessings of their craft to people living in communities affected by natural calamities and armed conflict.  Disaster relief must be sustainable, not only in terms of emergency food and medicine, but in helping locals find new livelihoods so they can rebuild their lives. Almost a year after Bohol and Yolanda, many are still homeless, let alone jobless.
Members of ANP, led by their Chairman Mary Ann Colmenares and President Jojie Locsin, visited communities in Bicol, Cebu, Masbate, northern Negros, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, and Antique. They bought raw materials that otherwise may be sourced closer to Bacolod, if not for the need to help alleviate the situations in devastated and distant areas. They hired locals to gather shells, pandan leaves, wood from fallen trees, and coconut shells and lumber. At the trade fair in September, expect to find calamity-inspired products, including Hacienda Crafts’ Macramé Pendant Lamp that uses woven baskets from San Remigio in Cebu, Tumandok’s Haiyan Collection of furniture constructed from coconut wood from San Dinisio in Iloilo,  NVC’s “The Story of Maria Luisa”, a mosaic art collectible depicting the life of a two-year-old in Palo, Leyte, who lost her mother to Yolanda, Jojo Vito’s Festival Dolls Collection wearing shells from Bantayan Island and Molocaboc Island, Marayo’s Sea Jewels necklaces and bracelets adorned with shells from Cebu, Artisana’s Yolanterns decorated with coconut shells from Leyte, and the pandan-woven Bantayan Tote of Kiculo. Some of these products are also winners of the 2014 Bulawan Awards, a competition that the ANP holds to push its ranks to create high-quality, high-design merchandise. No doubt, products like these will creep into the hearts of buyers, but it will also give buyers an avenue to help. Shoppers will even more distinguish the Negros Trade Fair for this wonderful emotional experience.
ANP members are experts at helping. In the 80s, ANP was established by visionaries who built handicraft businesses to give alternative livelihood to farm workers displaced by the sugar crisis and insurgency. ANP’s original guards may have given way to the next generation, but the calling remains.
The Negros Trade Fair is the longest-running provincial trade fair held in Metro Manila every year, a feat made possible by the support of the provincial government of Negros Occidental. This year’s exhibition will be led by Gov. Alfredo Marañon, Jr., Vice Gov. Eugenio Lacson, and the Provincial Board Members. There are over 80 selling booths to be filled with the latest merchandise from ANP’s five sectors, namely, Furniture & Furnishings, Gifts & Housewares, Fashion & Garments, Food, and Natural & Organic. There will also be hot food featuring the best of Negrense cuisine, headlined by the original chicken inasal. The famous piayas, mango tarts, and other pasalubong delicasies will also be available. The five-day trade fair will also include shows and events still being finalized as of press time. For more information, call 034-434-1000 or 0917-312-1664. Follow the Negros Trade Fair on Facebook, or send an email to
The 29th Negros Trade Fair will be open from 10am to 9pm on Sept. 24, 25, and 28 (Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday) and from 10am to 10pm on Sept. 26 and 27 (Friday and Saturday). Entrance is free.

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The Negros Trade Fair is the longest running provincial trade fair in the Philippines held annually in Metro Manila since 1985.

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