Many, many moons ago, enterprising Negrenses sold a Christmas star or parol one holiday season, in a bid to help raise funds for the people of Negros. I don’t even recall if it was after a storm, a major drought, a deadly drop in sugar prices or whatever calamity might have necessitated the coordinated effort to raise funds, but the idea was a hit. A bazaar held in Manila brought the best of Negros to the city, and both the charitable effort and the commercial one was a success. I most vividly recall the star and the charity, a sort of status symbol of sorts in a reverse kind of way… Whether you had one or several hanging outside your home that holiday season, you were identified as having stepped up to provide some assistance to those who needed it. The bazaar became an annual event, and it is one gathering of handicraft and food purveyors that I always try to visit. It started last Wednesday and will run until Sunday, at the Rockwell Tent in Makati.
I don’t know about you, but it always drives me a little batty to hear that first publicly played Christmas carol soon after we reach September every year… It’s just way too early. I know the country tries to lay claim to the longest Christmas season on the planet, but just because we starting jingling our bells or roasting our chestnuts some 110+ days before Christmas doesn’t really cut it for me. Lately, television programs have started countdowns from 100 days and their sets are already festooned with holiday decor, well before even Halloween or western Thanksgiving Days take place! Christmas is my favorite part of the year as well, but I personally think it gets watered down if you start to celebrate it 15 weeks beforehand. Having said that, I bought my first batch of “Christmas” items this year at the Negros bazaar… up top these laser cut wooden ornaments (stars, balls, etc.) that would make great giveaways and extremely well priced at PHP40 each.
I also stopped at the Casa Carmela stall for some comestibles… It was the best merchandised food stall of the bunch. Casa Carmela, first featured here for their adobong pitaw, now has a huge range of savory and sweet delicacies. I ended up with bottled pitaw, chorizo and guinamos…
At a stall just across from Casa Carmela, I purchased three bottles of this “aged” tuba vinegar. I was surprised when told it was all-natural, with no food coloring or any other additives. It has a rich caramelized color and a nice acidic hit of native vinegar falvor. At PHP65 per small bottle it was pricey, but worth the try. My only reservations about the product? Note the bottles say “Del Monte” and on the backside of the bottle it says further “Property of Del Monte” — while I applaud recycling, I am not sure about re-using a commercial ketchup(?) bottle for packaging one’s vinegar. Makes me wonder if the caps are re-cycled as well (with original computerized coding on the caps). Also, on vinegars, I like to see the acidity level clearly labelled, say 4, 5 or 6% acidity as it helps to prevent buying products with a higher chance of natural cooties.
I couldn’t resist the double long barquillos from the stall selling El Ideal products. As kids, we used to crunch down on these, pretending to smoke cigars, and naughtily blowing out the crumbs if no adults were watching… Barquillos and ice cream were a classic pairing in our home, despite the fact that the barquillos always shatter when you poke them into the ice cream!
Bottled Food Items
54 Lizares Avenue
(Several outlets in Manila)
The Fruit Farm
Bob’s Fruit Farm
Lacson and Magsaysay Sts.