The resilience of the Visayan people in the face of one calamity after the other will be highlighted in the 29th Negros Trade Fair starting today, Sept. 24, till the 28th at the Glorietta Activity Center in Ayala, Makati City. The fair, one of the longest trade fairs in the country, is aptly titled “Smiles Beyond Borders.”
Featured are products not only from Negros Island (Negros Oriental and Occidental), but also from Cebu, Masbate, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan and Antique. Organizers said they hope that the fair would boost livelihood in the regions ravaged first by the killer earthquake and then the killer Supertyphoon “Yolanda” last year.
A series of mosaic collectibles, in fact, depicts the life of Maria Luisa, a child from Palo, Leyte, who lost her mother when Yolanda struck but surprisingly survived.
Featured as well are fashion items and jewelry, and home décor and accessories.
The fair will have a festive bar with a line of Negros food, including chicken inasal and pastries.
The fair is spearheaded by the Negros Occidental provincial government and organized by the Association of Negros Producers.
Artisana Island Crafts
Designer Mary Ann Colmenares hooked up with artisans from Leyte to come up with a unique collection called Yolantern (Yolanda Lantern), hand-cut and hand-carved coconut shell ornaments for the home.
Her creations are eco-friendly, all made of sustainable coco shell accents. Recycled glass made up the lanterns, and the baskets are handwoven from raffia palm trees that grow abundantly in Aklan.
Artisana also has products from Tubigon, Bohol, one of the small towns devastated by the earthquake. Tubigon, Colmenares learned, has a rich history in weave-making, one that has been passed on from one generation to another. She tapped local artists to create indigenous loomed fabrics, now used as decorative lining for her Bohol Boxes.
There’s also the Spider Weave Collection, handwoven by pandan weavers of Guimaras provinces off Panay Island. In this collection are utilitarian glass coasters, trivets, place-mats and wall-hanging caddies.
Debuting in the fair are her ceramic creations collectively called the Koi Garden Collection. Koi, the Japanese ornament representing the common carp, is captured in six poses, and comes in beige and white, in both matte and glossy finishes.
Also in the fair will be the Lotus Interactive Basket that can serve as fruit basket, magazine tray, planter, large trivet (flattened out), or as contemporary wall art. Its wire sheet is flexible, designed to follow any shape, and is wrapped in natural fiber.
Expected at the fair are Colmenares’ signature chimes, with this year’s collection (Boardwalk Chime Collection) featuring sea stripes, two-tone garden impressions and cardinal birds.
Wild, rough vines fashioned into urban home décor are just among the many finds at Joey and Christina Borromeo-Gaston’s socio-environmental design company. They sought out the rattan hand-weavers from San Remigio, Cebu, a town that Yolanda shattered, to create the award-winning Macrame Pendant Lamp at the 2014 Bulawan Awards of the Association of Negros Producers.
From Bohol, in the towns of Tubigon and Inabanga where many people were displaced by the 7.2 earthquake, comes the Tubigon Lamp decorated with raffia weaves in traditional fabric design patterns. There are also Lowen baskets and placemats made of pandan rope handcrafted by the townsfolk of La Libertad Weavers Association from Negros Oriental, another area ruined by the earthquake.
Hacienda Crafts will likewise feature Tinalak woven fabrics from the T’boli tribe of Mindanao. The solihiya weave made of rattan strips makes a comeback in Rhoda Stool. Steel plates from cargo bays of junked sugarcane trucks are upcycled as tabletops in the Not for Hire Collection. The classic Rosalia coco twig placemats, runners and trays have been updated to silver, champagne, bronze, gold and white gold.
Vito Prints and Pieces
From Bantayan, Cebu and Molocaboc, Negros, are shell products, handcrafted by local artisans from seashells collected from the shores of the two towns. In Bantayan, Jojo Vito doubled the prices of shells to boost the income of the pickers.
Back in his factory in Bacolod, he created 10 products working around the “Smiles Beyond Borders” theme. There’s the Damang Lighted Wall Décor, embellished with Bantayan shells, that takes the shape of a spider (damang). This design earned the Design Excellence and Craftsmanship award at the 2014 Bulawan Awards of the Association of Negros Producers.
The Adnaloy Divider, that’s Yolanda in reverse, is a curtain of strings with shells. Another award-winner is the Dolls Collection, six collectible dolls in festive costumes of popular fiestas in Negros Occidental (including Bacolod’s Masskara). Part of the proceeds will be donated to the church construction in Bantayan.
Vito used washed-up sea urchins collected in Bohol for the Marang Lamp, a design inspired by the fruit of the same name.
For close to three decades now, Vicmik Enterprises has wowed the world with its hand-smocked Ines Moda Infantil clothes for girls and Munecos brand for boys. That’s why, for this special event, second-generation owner Ines Lovina Santiago will give a 10-percent discount on all purchases in exchange for stuffed toy donations, whether old or new.
Santiago believes the stuffed toys will help children in the Visayas cope with trauma, especially since Christmas is coming. The company itself was founded to provide livelihood to women in the countryside in the early 1980s. Santiago’s family believes that human skill is irreplaceable.
Today its brand is known for dainty embroidery and intricate smocking in age-appropriate designs. Both brands are well-received in the United States. The 2014 Holiday Collected will be unveiled at the fair, featuring coordinated clothes for children aged 3 months to 12 years old.
Weaving pandan leaves into fashionable bags was something new to the people of Bantayan. When foreign assistance came to the town, the French NGO Humanitarian Open Source Touch hooked up with Kiculo owner Marichu Cusi to train the locals in bag production that follows strict specifications.
The Bantayan Tote will make its debut in the fair. It comes in two sizes: large, for the young, laid-back utilitarian lifestyle; and small, for a wider market. Leather is incorporated in the woven bags, including the details, with cutouts stitched together like mosaic tiles. The design bagged top honors at the 2014 Bulawan Awards of the Association of Negros Producers.
The Juliet Bag uses crocheted cord handles and comes with faux pearls. Colors will also mark this year’s collection, as the weavers now uses multicolor pandan leaves.
Broken tiles pieced together in a triptych mosaic collection, inspired from real-life stories of the broken lives of the children survivors of Yolanda, will highlight this year’s selection from Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation (NVC). Its home-furnishing mosaic line will have five new design themes: Leaf Melody, Blue Blessings, Crewel, Baroque Silhouettes and Paisley.
A new product will use Yolanda wood, from those felled by the typhoon. Working with women in Bato, Leyte, NVC manufactured wood debris into rosary beads. Some collected wood were upcycled to stylized renditions of crucifixes collectively called Blessings of Hope.
There will be folding tables, bed trays, small and large trays, and trivets. NVC will also roll out its Folk Art Décor and Critter Tabletop collections. Mosaic art accents French bread boards with matching pate knives made from discarded buffalo horns.
Proceeds will be used to fund its Start Right, Start Bright Nutrition Program, in which NVC manufactures its own Mingo (malunggay, rice and monggo) recipe to feed undernourished children daily for six months.
Custom-design jewelry from Marayo, made of shells collected on the shores of Cebu, will be featured in the fair. The shells will be incorporated in Sea Jewels, a collection of necklaces and bracelets.
Depressed coastal communities in Negros also supplies Marayo with dead corals washed up on the beach. These are turned to brass cuffs from the collection called Fully Armed. Each design is unique, as no two corals look the same.
The Pleated Brass Collection consists of manipulated brass material turned into stylish brass bibs and cuffs. Leather also plays a big role in this year’s collection. Leather Rocks, made of soft Moroccan leather, comes in contemporary colors, including pastels. There will also be diary covers, and pouch cases for mobile phones and eyeglasses.
Semiprecious stones and ethnic beads selected by its owner from travels abroad will be among the highlights of the brand. Expect to see jade, turquoise and agates. Ethnic beads from Ethiopia will be constructed together with handmade brass and copper. From Nepal are butterscotch and red amber with handmade silver accents, shells with silver and copper and little prayer wheels.
Tumandok Crafts Industries
Cut-off pieces of coco lumber from Barangay Agdaliran, Iloilo, are turned into valuable resource. They are the main elements of the Haiyan Collection from Tumandok, featuring tables, lamps, trays and picture frames. Coco lumber that came in narrow strips is now the element that comes to play in the Haiyan Tube Lamp.
Tumandok plans to establish a processing factory in the barangay and train the locals. Funds for this project will come from the proceeds of its earnings from the fair. Five designs will be launched: Zebra, Poinsettia, Vine Pottery, Golden Banana and Golden Pottery.
The Vine and Golden Pottery collections are manufactured using powdered stone technology that incorporates sawdust, rice hull and charcoal. Golden pottery is accented with golden capiz shells.