Sneakers, Rum, and Chicken Inasal: Obsessions Satisfied at the Negros Trade Fair

Namit, gid!
IMAGE YVETTE FERNANDEZ

“Hidlaw” is the Higaynon term for longing—the yearning, the missing, the deep desire for something or someone. It’s also the theme for this year’s Negros Trade Fair, the nation’s longest-running trade fair, always a favorite among lovers of Negrense comfort food and wares. 

After skipping a year in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Association of Negros Producers brought the trade show online with an e-commerce site in 2021. Nothing beats the real deal, of course and we were thrilled to troop back to Glorietta for the 36th iteration of the Negros Trade Fair that runs through Sunday, September 25. 

Here are some reasons why you should check it out too.

1| Lakat sneakers. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.

These proudly Filipino made sneakers are made with water-repellant pineapple and cotton fibers woven by hand by artisans from Kabankalan. The ultra-soft cushioned insoles are also made with sustainable pineapple fiber, while the outer soles are made with locally grown rubber from Mindanao. They come in candy-colored hues, but the most popular ones are still the natural and neutral ones. To be honest, we want all of them.

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2| Freshly made piaya by Fresh Start Organics. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.

We must admit this crowd drawer is the main reason we go back year after year, and why last year’s online fair just didn’t cut it. They have it in calamansi, peanut, cacao, and even a savory chorizo flavor, but the original muscovado, fresh off the griddle, is hands down, the most popular of all. Line up as soon as you get there, so, like everyone else, you can nibble on your warm piaya while you walk around the fair.

3| Fans by Casa Mercedes. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.
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We’re all fans of Monchet Olives’ witty half-faced Puñeta and No Beso Beso abanikos. And there are so many others in stunning colors and unique designs. 

4| Homeware from Domesticity. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.

We love the pandan woven caddies you can use for your desk supplies in your work from home space, or remote controls for your man cave. There’s a wire/cable organizer box for all your gadgets, shelving for your printer, and storage for all your files to make everything look neat and tidy.

5| Don Papa Rum. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.
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Created in the heart of Negros, Don Papa Rum is enjoyed by spirits lovers around the globe. Get a bottle of the original flagship rum, or be adventurous and try the MassKara rum infused with calamansi, honey, and siling labuyo for just the right kick.

6| Crazy Rich Crabs by Casa Carmela. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.

Crab meat with talangka. Need we say more? Stock your pantry with their Chorizo Pudpud, Pitaw, Squid Adobo, and their different versions of bangus. The easiest meals when you can’t think of what to eat. All you need is a bowl of pasta or piping hot rice, and you’re all set. 

7| Felicia’s ensaymadas. 

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No need to hand carry these buttery delicacies laden with grated cheese all the way from Bacolod. Get them by the box and store them in your freezer. Load up on their cookies too. 

8| Sweet treats.

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Bañadas, barquillos, broas, otap, mamon tostado, mango tarts, and other sweet treats from Sugarlandia, Virgie’s, and yes, El Ideal, the heritage bakery established by the Locsins of Silay in the 1920s. Best time to stock up on all your favorites without worrying about paying for overweight luggage.

9| Chicken inasal at Inasalan sa Dalan. 

Photo by Inasalan sa Dalan/Facebook.
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A major fixture at the fair over the last 20 years. The fowl is marinated in native vinegar, garlic, and herbs, and basted with atsuete oil while slow-grilled to keep the juices within. Served with garlic rice. Perfect. We love having lunch at the fair and catching up with Raquel Sian Estrella if she’s not swamped with customers, before heading home with our stash of goodies.

10| Objets d’art from the Negrense Volunteers for Change. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.

We love these adorable figurines with skirts and rosette corsages made from discarded, recycled Nespresso pods. Proceeds help fund the group’s Mingo Feeding Program for undernourished children.

11| Dried fish from Cadiz City LGU. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.
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All your favorite salted dried fish are handily and sanitarily packed so you don’t have to worry about newspaper ink wrappers making a mess in your market bag. 

12| Batwan from Christdel’s Garden. 

Photo by Yvette Fernandez.

The sour fruit that’s the base of many dishes in Negrense cuisine. It’s available in powder form and concentrate at various booths at the fair, but the real deal is always the best. 

The 36th Negros Trade Fair will run until September 25 at Glorietta Activity Center.

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Yvette Fernandez
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Yvette Fernandez is the Chief Storyteller of the Gokongwei Group. Previously, she was the editorial director of Esquire Philippines.
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