Image of men in fashionable clothes, dancing to the latest beats, drinking the most expensive imported wines, these are the Manila based Negrenses taking part in the almost bacchanalian parties of the Kahirup Society. The onset of the sugar crisis in the 1980’s has stopped these parties altogether the Negros Trade Fair has replaced it as the Negrenses’ opportunity for socio-civic interaction now with a purpose, and that is to help their poor kasimanwas back home, reeling from the effects of what was once a mighty industry. Now on its 27th year, the Association of Negros Producers has reflected the desire to go beyond limits for this 5-day event.
Inviting some bloggers for a preview of the upcoming 27th Negros Trade Fair, Negros Showroom Makati Manager Mike Claparols, descendant of the first and only Negros Republic President Aniceto Lacson, entertained guests in the old Negrense way of serving an afternoon coffee treat of Negrense delicacies. This homey showroom reminds guests of the lifestyle back home in Negros where people come in the afternoon to have a small chat over coffee and treats. The Negros Showroom Makati’s space was given by the Department of Trade and Industry for use of the Association of Negros Producers as a showroom until December 31, 2012 this year.
The treats served were best seller ones like the signature Piaya and Napoleones from Bacolod. Sweetness from the treats reminds us very well of not just the sugar industry but also the innate sweetness and gentleness of the Negrenses. Nong Mike remembered the days where people would simply go to a relative’s house and how the host would let out a feast of sweet treats for the visitors. Much of the delicacies we see now are innovations by the home cooks who got their ideas from abroad or simply by the needs of the times as people adapt. Abundance of sugar with availability of ingredients and flour has led to innate culinary creativity of the Negrenses.
There are quite a lot of people who carelessly classify Negrense cuisine as “Ilonggo cuisine” due to undeniable similiarities in some dishes up to the name but, educated tongues would know that the food culture has gone beyond its original Ilonggo offshoot just a century ago, to a unique body of cuisine. Negrenses are well-traveled people and has so adopted cooking styles from various regions of the Philippines and even foreign influences, mainly Spanish, with some Italian, Mexican and Chinese. Fusion is best seen in the various recipe from other places, but blended well with local ingredients that the taste has now become characteristically Negrense.
Quality and advocacy mixes well for the Association of Negros Producers where products have wonderful stories behind them. The years of experience with Negros Trade Fair and the Negrenses’ creativity has ingrained a sense of quality for each of the products sold by the association, showroom and trade fair. Each has been carefully scrutinized to pass a standard test that most items sold are vailable for export. One of the success stories is Fresh Start Organic that started almost a decade ago and has been leading in the Island push for organic products. Aside from organic produce, they have also personal care items entirely from organic sources.
Negrense products are merely a reflection of the actual welcoming warmth of Negrenses. Negros Trade Fair and Negros Showroom Makati are unique chances for Manileños to have a feel of little bit of Negros in the middle of the busy Rockwell Center and Buendia Avenue. PUREZA The Story of Negros Sugar will screen tomorrow, September 25, 9pm at Power Plant Cinema 6 to give us a preview of a crisis that started this all. I recommend the Negros Trade Fair for your early shopping needs or just for your fancy of export quality products for your daily needs. Do set one day between September 26 to 30 to visit the little bit of Negros at the Rockwell Tent.