BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental products appear to have been in “great demand” as products of four companies being displayed among the 93 booths at the Negros Trade Fair, held at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati, on its first day on September 20, were all sold out, disclosed by Mary Ann Colmenares, Vice President for Advocacy of the Association of Negros Producers.
The sold out products were mostly gift items and housewares, according to Colmenares.
This only indicates how the buyers missed the Negros products, she stressed.
The annual Negros Trade Fair was suspended for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colmenares said the opening of Negros Trade Fair shows the best of Negrenses in terms of collaboration, convergence and cooperation between the government and private sector, as well as SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), in promoting the best of the province.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, who spoke at activity, said that the story of the Negros Trade Fair is “one of resilience, ingenuity, hope, and courage of the Negrense spirit.”
After two years of uncertainty and dread caused by the pandemic, Lacson said “here we are together, to once again ring the bell to start this year’s historic trade fair.” “No people in recent history have been called upon to overcome the obstacles that tested our resolve as human beings,” he stressed.
The governor urged those witnessing the activity on Tuesday night “to remember and give gratitude to the Negrense women who faced seemingly insurmountable odds, to provide an alternative source of income to the Negrense farmers who were badly hit by the global sugar crisis.”
WORKING WITH ARMY
The Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade and its various infantry units have linked up with ANP to help market the products of residents in the hinterlands of Himamaylan City and Hinobaan, which are insurgency-affected areas.
ANP is now a member of the Provincial Peace and Order Council of Negros Occidental.
Colmenares said “it took the Philippine Army for us to realize the impact, if we help the country sides, is really big”, citing what their achievement in Sitio Madaja, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, an insurgency hot bed in central Negros, that now has residents selling products at the trade fair.
“To the ANP, Negros Occidental is fortunate to have non-government organizations with initiative like yours. Thank you for heading this event which has become the longest running provincial trade fair held annually in Manila. Your ingenuity has opened opportunities to our small and medium enterprises, both in the local and international platforms,” Lacson, who along with Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer, led the ringing of the Arima bell to signal the opening of 36th Negros Trade Fair, in Makati, said.
For this year’s trade fair, you will see the community- based initiatives of the ANP in partnership with the province and Philippine Army to promote social entrepreneurship, he added.
As an active member of the Civil Society Organization of our Provincial Peace and Order Council, ANP will showcase their peace, economic, and capability livelihood projects in the remotest and conflicted areas of the province, he also said.
Lacson lauded the organization’s “3-pronged approach towards building a culture of peace that will result to a steady supply of raw materials, protect the degradation of our forest, and build the capacities of our upland communities for their socio- economic development.”
“As we advance towards recovery under the New Normal while avoiding another surge of COVID infections, we will see to it that no one is left behind,” he said.
Lacson also acknowledged the local government units who brought their delicacies, the tourism and business sectors, local producers, and the working team of the province.
“The success of this trade fair relies much on our collaboration and concerted efforts to show the world that Negros Occidental and the Negrense products are truly world class. To our local producers, please continue innovating and creating, and always aim for excellence. Your Provincial Government is here to support you every step of the way,” he further said.*