Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer lead the ringing of the Arima bell to signal the opening of the 36th Negros Trade Fair in Makati City Tuesday night, September 20. *Ronnie Baldonado photo
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson opened the 36th Negros Trade Fair (NTF) in Makati City on Tuesday night, September 20, with a call to “Buy Local, Go Lokal “.
The trade fair of the Association of Negros Producers, with the theme “Hidlaw”, will run until Sunday, September 25, at the Glorietta 2 of the Ayala Center, after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acknowledging the substantial contributions of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the local economy and nation building, and the severity of the economic blow of the COVID-19 crisis on their sector, Lacson said he issued an executive order Friday adopting the “Buy Local, Go Lokal” program of the Department of Trade and Industry in Negros Occidental.
“This will encourage Negrenses and Filipinos, to shift their buying patterns towards the consumption and purchase of locally manufactured goods. Likewise, this will stimulate and boost domestic travel, and encourage consumers to patronize Filipino owned and operated facilities and services,” he said.
Lacson, in Executive Order 22-46, Series of 2022, said “Buy Local, Go Lokal” aims to help Philippine MSMEs who have been severely affected by the COVID 19 pandemic to weather the storm and create opportunities for their recovery and growth.
“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,” Lacson said.
“Let us take this annual event as an opportunity to show who we are and what we are capable of doing and creating. Let us invite friends, families, and peers so that even in Manila, we can share with them the famed Negrense spirit, grace, and hospitality through our cuisine and products,” Lacson said.
Lacson urged those present to remember and give gratitude to the Negrense women who began the annual NTF when they were faced with seemingly insurmountable odds to provide an alternative source of income to the Negrense farmers who were badly hit by a global sugar crisis.
“The story of our Negros Trade Fair is one of resilience, ingenuity, hope, and courage of the Negrense spirit”, he said.
That is why after two years of uncertainty and dread caused by the pandemic, the NTF is back, which is “a testament of our ability as Negrenses, to overcome”, Lacson said.
Lacson also thanked the ANP for heading the NTF, 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,” he said.
“We have seen our country through periods of crisis before, and the reversal caused by the pandemic is another opportunity for us to rethink and re-evaluate our efforts to see our country and our people safely through this pandemic. The demands of our time are great and are different. If new sets of behaviors, perspectives, and approaches are needed, we must not hesitate,” he said.
The governor pointed out that this year’s NTF will also showcase community-based initiatives of the ANP in partnership with the provincial government and the Philippine Army to promote social entrepreneurship.
As an active member of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, ANP is also showcasing its peace, economic, and capability livelihood projects at the NTF from the remotest and conflicted areas of Negros Occidental, he said.
“We applaud their 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,” he said.
Lacson said as Negros Occidental advances towards recovery under the new normal while avoiding another surge of COVID infections, it will see to it that no one is left behind.
Also among those present at the opening of the NTF were European Ambassador Luc Véron and Australian Ambassador Richard Sesson; Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, board members and mayors; and representatives Mercedes Alvarez, Francisco Benitez, Alfredo Marañon III, Stephen Paduano and Rowena Guanzon.
The vice governor said he is inviting everyone to buy local products at the NTF.
“The Negros products are of good quality and detailed workmanship. It speaks of the Negrense lifestyle and choices. I go with what Governor Bong Lacson said to go local and buy local products,” Ferrer said.
Bago Mayor Nicholas Yulo said they are hoping sales will be good this year.
Generating more sales will help more Negros communities, Lacson said.
Christina Gaston, Association of Negros Producers chairperson, said 56 exhibitors and 13 local government units, are participating in this year’s NTF.*