The Cebu Design Week returned for this year’s week-long annual gathering that aimed to connect, create and cultivate the creativity and innovation of several diverse industries in Cebu.

Spearheaded by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. (CFIF), the CDW enabled the Makers’ Market or local creative startups and young professionals to showcase and sell their products and ideas while the main event featured 20 well-known experts to discuss topics of boosting Cebu’s economic potential.

“This event is one of many that are committed to bidding for recognition of Cebu as a creative city of design from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),” said Mari Booth, the CDW chairperson.

“This event allows the creative industries to come together and share their craft and help Cebuanos to grasp just how rich their industry is,” Booth added.

Cebu Design Week is a hotspot for leading professionals to help generate strategies for Cebu’s future development while also preserving the Cebuano culture, heritage, and traditional craftsmanship.

Cebu Design Week 2019 - Bags, Handcrafts, Weaves, Art
Bags and designs made by Lilila Primitive Art.

Cebu and creativity

The Cebu Design Week proves that Cebu is a city of creativity as the event saw multitudes of presentations of performing arts, products with unique designs and quality.

The Cebu fashion and accessories will not be left behind as it continues on developing designs to cater the modern fashion styles and trends while hoping to improve the present and younger generation’s value for weaved products.

“The furniture industry in Cebu is still alive,” says Jane Sayson, a designer at Cebu Homecraft based in Mandaue City.

Chair, Mirror, Table
Kir Balderas, ESTRAT Creative Manager posing for the creative furniture displayed during the CDW.

The Cebu’s furniture sector still sells most of its products to exports to Europe, Japan, the United States, and UAE but Sayson cites that they are now seeing an increase in local customers specifically to hospitality management or hotels in Palawan, Boracay, Bohol, and Manila.

Anime enthusiasts and students from Ateneo de Cebu proved that creativity comes from the love of work and culture when they made a medieval-themed fabric and cosplay accessories from scrap materials from Mehitabel.

A women’s group also supported the event and showcased their products of turning tarps into fashion items to push for the proper handling and disposal of solid wastes to the community.

Cebu Design Week
In this photo from left to right are Mari Booth, CDW chairperson, Joel Santos, Managing Director at Thames International Business School, Anya Lim, Co-Founder, and Managing Director of Anthill, Frederic Joye, Co-founder, and President of Arcanys, David Nugent, and Cattski Espina, CEO of 22 Tango Records.

Connecting the dots

Instill not just skills but also build pride in our own culture.

This was the main discussion in Cebu Design Week’s 3-day main event which highlighted the creativity, and innovation of several local industries.

“Turn your eyes towards your company’s quality, branding, and relationship,” the opening remark of one of CDW’s speakers Frederic Joye, Co-founder, and President of Arcanys.

Joye discussed the importance of consistency in the building of success for the company and how essential it is that we place quality work in everything that we do, think, and breath.

“Without the mindset of producing quality work and support of a great team, there is no company,” said Joye.

He described Cebu as a place where greatness can be found and where inspiration is deeply rooted in the present generation as well as the younger students and professionals.

He revealed his respect for Cebu’s artists, entrepreneurs, professionals, and locals who can naturally provide excellent service in their area of expertise, which is a hundred percent engaging and human.

Connecting the Dots, Sistemang Pilipino
Violinists are playing for the audience during the Cebu Design Week.

Commercialize Cebu’s creativity

“The Filipinos are very welcoming, and creative people and I could not think of another place to start a business but in Cebu,” said Joye.

“Cebu is the most creative city in the country,” stated Joel Santos, Managing Director at Thames International Business School. “However, how do we sell or commercialize that creativity?” asked Santos.

He expressed that Filipinos are creative but lack technical and digital skills to pursue success.

He mentioned that artists and entrepreneurs are not that different. The artists are good at catching attention. They also give and share their talent for free for a cause and they can think outside the box, and entrepreneurs have the skills to be process-oriented and can handle finances wisely.

“So imagine if what if we combine these characteristics of artists and entrepreneurs into one person?” asked Santos. “We’d get Pinterest and Airbnb,” he answered.

“It’s not about creativity not having enough opportunities but placing the right combinations with our creativity,” he stated.

He believes that if by providing the right combination like music, business, and tech, we can get an app called Spotify. Imagine what industrial revolution can come out from the Cebuano creatives once they start adding tech and digital to their arts.

“However, building a product or brand will still have to start with ourselves,” states Santos.

Cebu Design Week 2019
Anya Lim talks about Anthill’s Enterprise Development Program.

Culture shouldn’t be forgotten

“We are facing that problem,” says Anya Lim, Co-Founder, and Managing Director of Anthill. “The problem that our culture and skills are being left for our elders to do,” Lim continued.

Lim elaborates on the problem faced by Anthill is that a lot of young women are no longer interested in wanting to learn weaving or handicrafts simply because there are no relevance and no demand and income to get from it. 

“But weaving is a craft that keeps our culture alive, and our materials help protect the environment,” she says. 

Anthill took five years to build relationships to market the brand and its products. “Anthill is not something we could aggressively market because if we wanted to grow our brand, we needed to create a design that Filipinos can wear,” said Lim.

Anthill had to design their products to provide versatility, function, with the relevance to modern fashion. 

“There were a lot of things needed to be done, and we also had to adapt to the changing times and provide relief of the itchy feeling of the fabric. It took a while to get here but look how far we’ve gotten,” Lim stated.

Slowly but surely

“We celebrate our smallness because we were once microscopic,” says Cattski Espina, songwriter, CEO of 22 Tango Records. 

In her own words, “The 22 Tango Records are a band of people who just play their original music without actually thinking of getting a big hit, we just wish to express ourselves.”

Cattski started a program that allows her artists to develop their craft, and that is through live performance and application. She expressed her sentiments on how the creative department of Cebu’s local musicians are digging the soil with their bare hands, and it is difficult when you have a small audience reach.

She introduced her programs to combat their problem of being minuscule, such as the Cuppafolk series which is a presentation done in coffee shops that enhances the audience experience. A listening room event where everyone focuses on the band and that no distractions like cellphones and multimedia are allowed. 

Cattski mentioned that these programs bore results since they noticed that after the show, people are searching for their songs on Spotify or Youtube and want to listen to them again.

“We might be small, but like how you cannot ignore a speck of dust in your eye, we can have just as big of an impact in your life,” says Cattski.

Cebu Design Week 2019
Felix Ng advocates his “Fake it till you make it” concept for success.

Fake it till you make it

“Fake it till you make it,” shares Felix Ng, Co-founder of Anonymous. 

Felix shared his experiences and how he never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Quoting De Niro, Felix said, “Work hard to close the gap between the you now, and the you that you want to be.”

Felix stressed the importance of using your limitations as an advantage and discussed his crucial point on improving your worth in your journey towards success.

He stated the importance of using your money to repurchase your own time so that you can have the opportunity to work on yourself.

“Ignore the competition, the easy path leads to a crowded place, create your way, and you will get there eventually,” stated Felix.

A question was raised towards the end of the event stating, “How can you make sure that your product doesn’t remain just that, a product. How can it become a brand?”

The speakers provided their concluding statement saying, “Everything starts with valuing and proper and responsible costing of your products. You must not undervalue your band but one must also not intimidate their consumers.”

Cebu Design Week 2019
The creative team of ESTRAT Digital Marketing posing with the Cebu Design Week’s standee.

Celebrating creativity and innovation

This year’s Cebu Design Week was a venue that highlighted the different creative sectors of Cebu to show just how the Cebuano culture celebrates and give their support towards passionate, and hardworking individual and organizations. 

Cebu has a vibrant history of heritage and creativity. The countries like the U.S.A., Japan, EU, and the UAE have experienced and witnessed firsthand the array of innovation Cebu had to offer. 

From its top-quality design, furniture, handicrafts, and jewelry exported around the world for years. Cebu has always been sprawling with creative businesses in various fields, be it traditional or new. 

The economy is booming, from tourism, and local products that we need to discuss the need for conservation and preservation to sustain our title like the “Milan of Asia”, and to achieve the upcoming bid for the UNESCO title “City of Design”, which will be announced in November this year. 

Cebu Design Week was a great platform that encouraged designers, artists, and other creatives to take the centerstage of showcasing the products born from their passion and perseverance.

This week-long event inspired and instilled pride towards the participating audience of the 20 experts who featured different advocacies all directed to the sustainability and appreciation of Cebu as a true city of connecting creativity and innovation. 

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