19th century fair makes 8th revival for Peñafrancia fiesta
By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY --- Started by Bishop Francisco Gainza in 1875 as part of the weeklong celebration of the feast of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the Archdiocese of Caceres through Caritas-Caceres, Inc. is ready to hold from Sept. 7 to 17 the trade fair for its eighth-time revival since the 300th year celebration of the devotion to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia in 2010. Officially, the Peñafrancia fiesta is a prayer-devotion to the Bicol patroness that lasts nine days and this year it will start on the second Friday of Sept., then culminates after a week on Saturday in a religious fluvial procession over Naga River from the market to the Basilica. “Bishop Gainza organized a fair, agricultural and industrial, when pilgrims were flocking to the old Naga City. So, it was the time to exchange goods and products while celebrating the feast of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia,” relates Fr. Marcel Emmanuel DP. Real, executive director of Caritas-Caceres and the head of the trade fair. Real said the revival of the trade fair started in 2010 when it was discovered from the church annals the 19th century agricultural and industrial fair which Gainza initiated. He said the Caritas-Caceres, formerly known as the Caceres Social Action Foundation, Inc., is in-charge of the trade fair. Real said the first level of the apostolate of Caritas-Caceres in the work of mercy which is followed by the works of development including assistance to livelihood to the poor families. He said the proceeds of the trade fair will be spent to the development work of the Caritas-Caceres. Real said there are 80 aircon booths of which 60 booths have already been reserved. He said the trade fair will promote Filipino-made products to help small and medium enterprises. The trade fair is held in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the city government of Naga City. Edna Tejada, DTI provincial director, said the installation and use of aircon booths already costs P1.3 million even as she said the trade fair is income generating. Tejada said the DTI had been in partnership with the Caritas-Caceres since 2010 in holding the trade fair. She said the DTI helps in mounting the trade fair based on its experiences and inviting small and medium producers. “Together, we identify who to be invited in the trade fair. Our number one requirement for the exhibitor is that the products to be sold must be made in the Philippines,” Tejada said. She said the trade fair includes exhibitors from other regions but they do not allow traders but producers. “This (Gainza trade fair) is a platform where the producers can introduce their products in the market. If local producers gain confidence in this fair, which is provincial level, they can now try the regional or national fairs,” Tejada said. Real said the exhibitors must get to apply and it will be first-come-first-serve basis. He said they have already reserved 12 booths requested by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for exhibitors from different regions. Real said that for the past seven years the exhibitors keep coming back which could mean they are satisfied with the trade fair. He said the exhibitors do not only gain from the on-site sales but from orders from entrepreneurs visiting the trade fair.