Revisiting the Negros Farmers Weekend Market

By James U. Sy Jr

It’s been a little more than two months since I last wrote about the Negros Farmers Weekend Market. For those who are not familiar with it, the Negros Farmers Weekend Markett is a 1.2-hectare market community located along Magsaysay Avenue, just across DC Cruz Trading Corporation, where farmers from different parts of Negros display their fresh produce at very reasonable prices every Saturday, 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

The Negros Farmers Weekend Market was opened to the public on March 16, 2013 and serves as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project of the DC Cruz Trading Corporation, with its beneficiary being the family’s foundation, Herbe Foundation, which has the mission of providing education to indigent children with deep focus on character formation.

Thelma Z. Watanabe (right), the wife of Watanabe, Shigeru and the Overall Training Coordinator of Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA)-Bago Training Center, with NDB writer James U. Sy Jr. at the OISCA booth at Zone 3 of the Negros Farmers Weekend Market, Magsaysay Avenue.*(CMAS photo)

The Negros Farmers Weekend Market offers its buyers a number of perks, primary of which is lower prices of goods as compared to those charged in the average market. Under normal circumstances, farmers sell their fresh produce to middlemen who then transport them to Bacolod, the capital of the province, where sellers/vendors buy from them. Sometimes there are additional middlemen in between. Naturally, the layers of channels involved will ultimately affect pricing since each channel would have to have a margin to maintain their operations.

This is where the Negros Farmers Weekend Market is unique from most markets. Vendors within its premises are the farmers themselves, thereby eliminating middlemen, which in turn place its prices to a lower level.

Mrs. Ruby C. Cruz (seated left), the Marketing Director of DC. Cruz Trading Corporation, with Darlene Casiano, Maricar Dabao, Bambi Borromeo, and Ronnie Guance at Zone 3 of the Negros Farmers Weekend Market, Magsaysay Avenue.*(James U. Sy Jr./CMAS photo)

The Negros Farmers Weekend Market is composed of five zones. Nearer to the entrance (to the right side) is Zone 5, the area where farmers sell their fresh produce, both organic and natural. The last two times I went to Zone 5, I bought some soya milk, tofu and carabao cheese from Growbio Natural Systems, which is owned by Mary Aidine Galvan. Still in Zone 5, you can find organic red and black rice, calamansi, different vegetables, fruits, fresh milk, and interestingly, some rabbits.

From Zine 5 I normally go straight up north to Zone 3, the Food Area, where one can spoil one’s palate with a mouth watering choice of international cuisine: Filipino, Spanish, Bolivian, Japanese, Indian. Zone 3 is an open-air dining area where visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee while making chika with friends and/or other visitors or simply to savor the food prepared by the different restuarers. One can also order bangus, tilapia, and/or other seafood to be grilled, ala Pala-Pala style.

During one of my visits, businessman Ong Chuk-Kuan was also there and I learned he’s a good friend of Mrs. Ruby C. Cruz, the Marketing Director of DC Cruz Trading Corporation. I wouldn’t wonder if Chuk was there because the place gives one an aura of peace, the feeling of being one with nature. Mrs. Cruz treated us both to lunch. My first time to try Bolivian food. I met Julio La Fuente, a handsome pastry chef from Bolivia who was so intrigued by the Philippines that he traveled here, staying at the Quiet Place. La Fuente’s specialty is Roselle Bread, his very own creation. La Fuente will be in Bacolod till August 2013.

Farther west of Zone 3 I also met Mr. Edmon Ereñeta who was selling Chorizo Negrense, which is made from all natural ingredients. As it turned out, he was related to a classmate of mine in La Salle before.

During that visit I also noticed there were a number of Japanese visitors, apparently they attended the O-mochi making demo, the ceremony of which is formally called mochitsuki in Nihonggo, that morning. O-mochi are traditional Japanese sticky rice cakes made by literally "pounding the life out of" steamed glutinous rice into a paste and molded into different shapes. Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA)-Negros and the Filipino-Japanese community of Bacolod organized the demo.

Mrs. Cruz introduced me to Mrs. Thelma Z. Watanabe, the wife of Watanabe, Shigeru and the Overall Training Coordinator of OISCA-Bago Training Center. OISCA was founded by Rev. Nakano, Yonosuke in 1961; OISCA Philippines was established in 1963 and now has 19 branches with seven rural development and youth training projects in Mindanao, Negros, Palawan, Mindoro, and Luzon. The group’s main trust is agriculture although they also conduct staff training for cooking, flower arrangement, and other cultural skills. OISCA also had their booth in Zone 3 where they sell Japanese food.

The last of the food booths was the one which offered Spanish cuisine. They got lots of paella. And while I’m writing this piece, I’ve just got word that there are three more new food locators at Zone 3.

Maricar Dabao, Bambi Borromeo, Darlene Casiano, and Ronnie Guance were also there to enjoy the food and later met up with Mrs. Cruz.

And for those who have something to share about art, culture, health, environment, and the like, the Negros Farmers Weekend Market has a pavilion dedicated to public education where anyone can talk about important issues such as health, environment and agriculture. Lectures on Saturdays are free to both speaker and the public, and the hall can accommodate 70-100 people.

The other parts of the Negros Farmers Weekend Market are Zone 1, where you can find vegetable demo plots, bonsai exhibit, ornamental bamboo, greenhouse, and solar pump display; Zone 2 where one can find vegetable inputs, seeds, and massage/spa; and Zone 4 where one can find fresh processed meat, arts and crafts, ornamental plants, silk products, processed foods, and native baskets.*


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