THE 32nd Negros Trade Fair, which opened Tuesday night at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City, is positioned as a sustaining platform that enables entrepreneurs from Negros Occidental to conquer the world market.
Association of Negros Producers (ANP) president Christina Gaston, who was joined by government officials and industry partners at the opening rites, said the annual trade fair is a result of stronger public-private collaboration that helps local producers connect to a wider market.
She said this year’s theme, “Food for Thought,” inspires and makes all Negrense entrepreneurs reflect on what they can offer, contribute, and do for the province.
“We are very proud of the amazing Negrense creativity and prouder even of the collaborations that continue to strengthen through the years,” Gaston said, adding that “the trade fair as a product of stronger partnerships allows us to further conquer the world.”
The trade fair, which runs until October 1 this year, is considered one of the biggest-running provincial trade fairs in the country.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who offered the toast during the Arima night, expressed hopes for the progress of Negros, its producers, and the entire Philippines.
Marañon also led the ceremonial ringing of the bell which signaled the start of the five-day event.
He was joined by Gaston, trade fair chairperson Catherine Grace Cusi-Lobaton, Development Bank of the Philippines chairman and former senator Alberto Romulo, Camille Villar representing her mother Senator Cynthia Villar, and Ayala Group of Companies top executives Bernard Vincent Dy and Jose Emmanuel Jalandoni.
Attendees also witnessed the airing of the "Negros First Food Video," which is a marketing tool to further promote truly Negros food products and cuisines.
Adding attraction to the activity was the exhibition of six guest chefs, who used ingredients from the Negros First booth in cooking various dishes.
The pool of chefs included Joel Torre, JP Anglo, Tom Bascon, Don Colmenares, Nico Millanes, and Claudia Schulze, who all have Negrense roots.
Cusi-Lobaton, in her message, said Negros has been known for good food, and majority of the people come to the fair because of the food.
Explaining the theme, Cusi-Lobaton said food means something that nourishes, sustains, and supplies.
“When we relate it to Negros, we offer you products that nourish the heart, sustain creativity, and create livelihood to our fellow Negrenses," she added.
This year's trade fair hosts 73 booths where guests can savor, experience, and taste the authentic flavors of Negros.
Cusi-Lobaton also said what makes the event this year more special is the launching of the Negros First Food, which will officially position the province as a food destination.
“Aside from great food, we offer more products that will feast your eyes, fill your heart, and feed your soul," Cusi-Lobaton said.
The tagline “Feast Your Eyes,” means allowing people to see the beautiful forms, colors and textures of Negros’ artisan products.
“Fill Your Heart” enables them to learn how Negrenses give back to the communities, she said, adding that “Feed Your Soul” means taking a bite of heritage, history, and stories of Negrenses.
Aside from food, the trade fair also showcases products from the gifts, decor and homestyle, fashion and garments, furniture and furnishings, natural and organic, and tourism sectors.
The ANP had earlier said that with better and more innovative products, they are optimistic to surpass last year's generated sales of P20 million.
Also gracing the opening activity were Interior Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo Jr. and former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, some provincial board members, and mayors, including Mark Golez of Silay City, which will present the “Silay Night” this evening.