BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – To Negrenses in the sugar-producing capital of the Philippines, it is not the face of Negrense singer Jose Mari Chan that brings good tidings as September starts.
Rather, it is the smoking chimneys of the sugar mills here that signal that start of the milling season, the shift from the tiempo muerto to the tiempo suerte.
To millions of Negrenses who depend on the monocrop industry for their livelihood, tiempo muerto, also called, tigkiriwi (from kiwi or a pained expression on a person’s, face), the off-milling season means lower wages as work stops in the fields tolet the canes mature.
Suerte (fortune) is when work resumes in the field as the canes are cut and loaded onto trucks, a process called tapas (cut)-karga (load) but more known as karga-tapas in the Hiligaynon language.
As work resumes in the canefields, the Lo brothers – Jonathan and Ian – two of the most popular successful entrepreneurs here – have decided to roll out the newest branches of their respective businesses.
To Ian who manages the ubiquitous Negros Grace Pharmacy chain of drugstores in Western Visayas, it started with the opening of two more branches in the town of Murcia and in Victorias City, both second branches in these localities.
Jonathan, on the other hand, president and chief executive officer of the firm that owns and runs the Merczi Pasalubong chain of stores, also unveiled amid much fanfare his 69th Merzci Pasalubong branch, one of the many full service stores of the brand.
For Grace Pharmacy, the Victorias second branch is the 81st Grace Pharmacy store in Negros Occidental province.
DNX has also learned that five more branches will open soon – the second and third ones in Kalibo, the first branch in Pototan, all in Panay island, and two more here – the Eroreco branch in Mandalagan village and another at Ayala Capitol mall.
Along with the opening of the East branch, Merzci also launched the ube napoleones, a first ever flavor variation on the popular puff pastry.