SPLURGING on items that are not that basic to one’s personal or household needs usually brings a feeling of guilt on buyers. But not when you splurge on an annual event like the International Bazaar (IB) where you know that the proceeds would benefit the needy and marginalized.

In its 50th anniversary, IB is even more resolved to reach out to the marginalized and the uncared for members of our society by embarking on projects that would directly help them and less on funding other organizations and foundations that cater to their sectors.

For the first time, the international bazaar will be held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel tent area on November 27 which would provide patrons with a good view of the bay.

IB Foundation Chairman Cecile Yasay, wife of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., said among the featured products in the bazaar are world-class bags made by inmates of Davao penal colony; pina cloths woven by women from Lumban and colorful weave products made by indigenous groups.

Also expected to generate interests are jewelry products crafted by world-famous craftsmen from Meycauayan, Bulacan. Last year, there were 100 Filipino exhibitors in the bazaar.

Since all the imported items to be sold by foreign embassies are exempted from taxes and duties, people can expect to buy those products cheaper than if they came from other sources.

Likewise, chefs from foreign countries are coming in to cook their best dishes in which patrons will have the option to partake within the venue or take them out. 

A total of 200 booths (equally shared by local and foreign exhibitors) would delight patrons with a wide array of goods, home décor, food, clothes, bags and fashion accessories.

Already, 38 countries have confirmed their participation in this year’s IB and some of them have more than one booth, among them China and Brazil. 

But the United States and Russia are yet to confirm their participation. The U.S. Embassy ladies are already holding their own bazaar, where they would also promote local Philippine products. Besides, they are also in the thick of preparation for Thanksgiving Day.

Entrance tickets cost P100 but donor cards of P200 would entitle one to win big prizes even though they are not physically present.

In the past, foot traffic of IB reached 5,000 to 7,000 people. This year the IBF expects it to be 7,000 to 9,000. 

Around 30 Filipino participants, coming mostly from indigenous people communities and have never sold their products in malls and department stores,   would be selling the best of their products in this year’s bazaar.

The past 49 IBs benefitted the needy, the elderly, abandoned and neglected children and victims of calamities (including fire), said Sylvia Farolan, current president of IBF who has been its head for several decades.


IB History

Founded by Angela Valdez-Ramos, mother of former President Ramos in 1966, IB was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only 29 years after or on April 26, 1995 as the International Bazaar Foundation Incorporated IBF).

The first bazaar was a special project of the Ladies of the DFA, the Diplomatic and Consular Corps (DCC), the Armed Forces of the Philippines, other government and private agencies. 

Since then, the bazaar became an annual undertaking of the DFA Ladies with the DCC aimed at alleviating suffering and misery by improving the lives of the underprivileged and less fortunate.

But since its incorporation, the activities of IBF and the Spouses of the Heads of Missions (SHOM) were jointly decided and executed by IBF and SHOM, which also chooses the project to be taken as a joint IBF-SHOM undertaking.

The IB 50th anniversary press conference was held early this month with overall chairman Cecile Joaquin-Yasay; Sylvia Joaquin-Farolan, president of IBF, Consul General Fortune Ledesma, chair for IBF publicity and Yuko Ishikawa, Spouses of Heads of Mission (SHOM) president.

Yasay said IB is the only international expo with real international participation and said this year’s expo will be different in that embassies will sell only the best products from their respective countries.

The Philippines has chosen a select group of exhibitors from the disadvantaged groups and communities that have not had the chance to sell their wares in the malls and other trade fairs.


Drug rehab

Proceeds of the bazaar will continue to fund scholarships and other endeavors for the elderly and the abused/abandoned children and victims of calamities.

But this year, focus will also be given to the community and faith-based drug rehabilitation center in Novaliches, Yasay said adding that she hopes it would be replicated in other places in the country.

Farolan said many of IBF scholars are working now, some of them paid back through their active participation in the annual bazaars. 

Government hospitals that have benefitted from medical supplies have also shown their appreciation to IBF.

Ishikawa said SHOM members participate in the annual IB to express their gratitude to the Filipinos for their friendship and hospitality to the ambassadors and heads of missions and their families “and we are only too willing to help the disadvantaged and the helpless.”

The IB is also a very good showcase of products and cultures of various countries to their host, Ishikawa said.

Farolan said IB makes sure that its scholars go to public universities and college unlike other foundation. In the past, it even had high school scholars. 

It also has livelihood and skills training program for women especially in underprivileged communities. The foundation also helps victims of calamities (typhoon, fire and flood victims) either directly to the victims or through foundations helping them. Also, the foundation gives financial assistance to the elderly with emergencies.

The amounts raised from such bazaars are used to cover for expenses and the balance for the assistances being sought to the foundation that is screened by a committee on the amount needed and to be extended.

In Leyte, the foundation donated several dialysis equipment to help the victims of super typhoon Yolanda,.

From Japan, Ishikawa said the products they would sell are food, accessories, wines and chocolates. There would also be salmon from Norway and cheeses and chocolates from all over the world, among others.

The IB will give buyers in the 2,000 square meter tent area, an experience of shopping and experiencing the culture of the world, without even flying there, Yasay said.

Tickets can be sold prior to the bazaar in all Tesoros outlets, at the IBF office and from the staff and officers of IBF.

The Philippines is very lucky to have an active SHOM, which is not so in other countries, stressed Yasay. 

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