Category Archives: History

ANP’s Silver Tiangge Coffee Table Book: A Negrense Must Have

Inset: Foreword page of ANP’s coffee table book “Silver Tiangge”

The foreword Carmen Guerrero Nakpil in the coffee table book Silver Tiangge must have been by itself an ample introduction to the Negros Trade Fair and the Association of Negros Producers. Last year, I was given a privilege through ANP Vice-President for Media Jojo Vito to be part of the 26th Negros Trade Fair held in the semi-permanent location at Rockwell Tent. The event resulted to eight blog entries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), new friends and new experiences. Too bad I was not able to join the 25th Negros Trade Fair which was the best one so far but the essence of the celebration is captured in Silver Tiangge.

Inset: Featured is the kitchen exhibit at the Balay Negrense Museum

What is Silver Tiangge? That is the coffee table book produced by the Association of Negros Producers for the occassion of the 25th Year of Negros Trade Fair in Manila. You see, Negros Trade Fair is the longest provincial trade fair that has been running consistently that has breached a decade and an amazing feat it would that it would soon breach third decade. “Tiangge” in Silver Tiangge does not come from the Tagalog term but rather from the Hiligaynon term which means a “sari-sari” or variety store. Indeed, from a small series of booths in SM Megamall, it expanded to include over fifty enterprises now.

Inset: Silver Tiangge’s Table of Contents

While the 25th Negros Trade Fair has long passed, the  Silver Tiangge is still in publication. Ms. Teena Gacho Rodriguez from the Association of Negros Producers reached me last week that there are more stocks available. This coffee table book is actually a must have for Negrense homes since it details not only details the products from ANP Showroom and the Negros Trade Fair but the evolution of Negrense industry that was forced to diversify due to the fall of the sugar industry in the Marcos regime. What was then as a means of extra income for sacadas has become a multi-million dollar export industry.

Inset: Various kakanin, sweets and coffee from Negros Island

Even with sugar‘s dominance since the late Spanish Era leading to the short-lived Republic of Negros, these industries found their roots in the countryside with Negrenses utilizing whatever resources they have to produce new products for consumption. A few of them like furniture-making dates back to the time when hacienderos would commission copies of furniture designs they have come across palaces of Europe, while foods like Bas-oy and Cansi were Negrense food innovations at a time when the poor was limited to scrap meats and innards. Soon enough, even the hacienderos caught on the taste and ate them too.

Inset: More food articles inside the coffee table book Silver Tiangge

Interesting, isn’t it? Association of Negros Producers has slashed down prices of the coffee table book to P1,500 which is very much affordable for a piece of Negrense history that every Negrense home in Negros Island and Beyond must have. The book is available in the ANP Negros Showroom Main at Lourdes Center in 9th cor. Lacson Streets, Bacolod City or at their branch at Central Citywalk in Robinson’s Bacolod, just look for Teena Gacho-Rodriguez or staff to purchase one.


Merci and Negros Grace Give Back to Fellow Negrénses

Inset: CM & Sons CEO Jonathan Lo, NGP COO Bea Lo Yao, Rep. Limkaichong and the teams.

Two of Negros’ biggest locally homegrown companies, CM & Sons’ Merci Bakeshop and Negros Grace Pharmacy took a day off for relief efforts to the areas affected by the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Negros Oriental. Two teams, one headed by Mr. Jonathan Lo for Merci and the other headed by Ms. Bea Lo Yao for Negros Grace Pharmacy  gave canned goods, rice, noodles, bread, gallons of purified drinking water, and vitamins for the residents of Barangay Manghulyawon and Barangay Talayong in the municipality of La Libertad. These areas have been identified by Negros Oriental First District Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong as in need of relief.

Inset: Bea Lo Yao, Liselle and Jonathan Lo discusses with Congresswoman Jocelyn Limkaichong.

The crew of twenty-eight people at dawn of February 16, 2012 and proceeded to Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental via Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental. Signages saying “We need food and water” and “SOS” were seen around the areas affected by recent quake at the coastal areas with tent cities rising from vacant spaces available. Such was the scene at the ground zero of the disaster and they were accompanied by Congresswoman Limkaichong’s convoy by ten o’clock in the morning. Brgy. Capt. Neri Timtim met the group with their baranggay officials who have been waiting for them since eight o’clock in the morning for a relief supply.

IInset: CM & Sons Sr. Op. Manager Manuel Dayao with Liselle Lo give relief goods to residents.

Kagawad Georgia Camero from Brgy Manghulyawon said that they experienced some aftershock for two nights and residents at the foothills decided to stay in evacuation centers fearing for their life. Some of the foothill communities in the other towns experienced landslides due to ground fissures caused by the strong tremor. While other towns and baranggays had casualties, these baranggays had no lives lost but crops damaged beyond recovery and some houses were irreparable. It will take some time before the baranggay  can recover and for their situation to be back normal from the most terrible disaster that damaged their homes and  livelihood.

Inset: Team Merci and Team Negros Grace giving out the goods to Brgy. Talayong residents.

After dispensing relief goods at Brgy. Manghulyawon, the team headed out to Brgy. Talayong to distribute more relief goods. Teams were met by Brgy. Capt. Teresita Gallosa at almost noon when they arrived in the area. It was pouring hard when they arrived at the site but the teams braved cold pouring rain to distribute goods to the residents. The volunteers were warmly received by the residents that were thankful for the help. After the rendezvous at Brgy. Talayong, the team headed out to Guihulngan City headquarters of the Philippine Red Cross to drop relief goods to help with the efforts since there are more inaccessible area there unreached of aid.

Inset: Teams Merci Negros Grace giving out breads on Red Cross tent grounds at Guihulngan City.

Mr. Ulysses Sannoy from the National Headquarters of the Philippine Red Cross Disaster Management Services met the team at the Red Cross Tent Grounds and received packs of relief goods, bottles of 1-liter and 5-gallon purified drinking water. The relief effort is the first of its kind as a joint effort of Merci and Negros Grace Pharmacy. Merci grows as a favorite breads, fastfood and pasalubong establishment in the island, the company gives back to the community. The inspiration meanwhile for Negros Grace Pharmacy is a legacy of Dr. Manuel Lo, the founder of the company, for forty years who has helped out for friends, customers and the needy.

People on Focus: Direk Jay Abello

It was Saturday and in the early afternoon when I caught the train and headed to Ayala Center. I was going to Kuppa Fort Bonifacio to meet with the Director/Executive Producer of PUREZA The Story of Negros Sugar and he is none other than a kasimanwa, Direk Jay Abello. Through the course of our correspondence until the meeting, I have always called him Direk for he has notable for such films as Namets which featured Negrénse cuisine at its best with a flare of a love story. I was running late then clad with my formal clothing for an even afterwards. My rap-dash walk was replaced with a sigh of relief when he told me he will be late.

When I entered Kuppa, I sat by a good spot by the window waiting for Direk when he texted me that he was already there in a shirt colored grey. I immediately noticed him in the other corner and went to greet him. His simple attire and humble disposition makes the coat and tied clad me a bit shy. He invited me to sit down and with a French-pressed coffee at hand, he greeted me and asked of how I was since I looked haggard from all the walking I did. Direk Jay has lived for many years now in the busy Metro Manila and was educated here too, in De La Salle – College of St. Benilde to be exact in a course actually unrelated to filmmaking.

Direk Jay graduated BS Management with plans to work in big companies like San Miguel but was drafted by his father to work as a farm administrator in his family’s farm in Isabela for three crop years. In the lean months after planting sugarcane, he routinely spends time in Bacólod City. It was here that he developed an affinity with performing arts when he got involved with a theater and the intricacies of production. He eventually managed his sister’s orchid farm and cut flower industry when she went to a convent in Marawi City. Feeling that is was called more for performing arts than farming, he went to Manila and pursued film.

When asked if what of all his films gave him the hardest effort, he immediately quipped PUREZA since it entailed countless hours of research and interviews. The idea to film PUREZA date back in 2008 at the successful premier of his film Namets when a group of sugar planters from a foundation asked him if he can do an audio visual presentation on the events of the sugar industry. If one can remember, the last part of the 1970’s in the height of the Martial Law era heralded the fall of the sugar industry. The group led by Joey Gaston, Gina Martin and among others met at Joey Gaston’s Café Uma and laid work for the film PUREZA.

It was agreed that Direk Jay would produce the film while the foundation will be in charge of raising funds. After rounds of raising funds by convincing sugar planter and farmer groups that this would be good for the sugar industry, the film was in the making. It took them ten days of going around the province to gather a pool of people to interview. According to Direk Jay, they interviewed in the course of the film a total of one hundred and sixty (160) people and that does not include those people interviewed off cam. The number includes ninety (90) to one hundred (100) sugar planters and sixty (60) to seventy (70) farm workers in total.

They also interviewed for academic information economists like Prof. Solita “Winnie” Monsod of the UP School of Economics and fellow Negrénse Dr. Bernardo “Bernie” Villegas of the rival UA&P School of Economics. The economists were able to give compact and comprehensive view of sugar’s economic aspect especially Dr. Villegas, whose family is involved in the sugar industry as well in Negros Oriental. Asking him about the “seven-year cycle of sugar planting” that was mentioned in the trailer, he said that it was mentioned by his Dad. Incidentally, my Dad also mentioned seven years, though unrelated, with muscovado sugar.

A setback with producing the film that Direk Jay mentioned is there are countless issues involved with sugar. Most often, there are new issues coming out like the recent Coca-Cola premixed sugar controversy among many others. It is easy to get distracted with a number of irrelevant issues which he tried avoiding on the course of filming PUREZA. From a number of issues tackled, PUREZA boils down on the question of the industry’s oppression, land reform and the controversial ASEAN Free Trade Agreement which is a looming threat to the sugar industry with the opening of the Philippine market to rival cheap sugar from Thailand.

All of the filming and recording left them with approximately 360 hours of material which includes all possible angles for tackling issues on the sugar industry. In the initial editing, the had a film that ran for three hours and was trimmed down to two hours and fifteen minutes. This was even trimmed down to one hour and forty-five minutes. Much of the production is how the directors sees the situation of the sugar industry but the questions tackled at hand will not have an answer. It is up to the readers to answer those mind-opening questions. When will this be shown in Manila? Very soon enough and something to look forward to.


Most photos taken from the PUREZA The Story of Negros Sugar discussion group page. The schedule of the Manila premiere will be posted in that page and this blog’s like page.