The Manila FAME is considered as the Philippines’ premier design and lifestyle event, showcasing craftsmanship, design innovation and artisanship in local products. It is a bi-annual feature of finely selected furniture and home furnishings, holiday gifts and décor, and fashion accessories designed and crafted for the global market. It was held on April 21-24 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Metro Manila.

A facade in Manila Fame
The facade near the entrance of the Manila FAME show.

The show is also a good avenue for the Hinrich Foundation to network with exhibitors and to keep abreast with the most recent development in product and design. Hence, I went to the show with Marian Benetua, our senior copy editor and Alex Ward, our Princeton in Asia fellow, with the objective of bringing with us lessons on how trade shows help facilitate international trade.

Product showcase

The Manila FAME primarily brings a vibrant showcase of the Philippines’ designer pieces for the home, holiday and fashion sectors. The theme Iridescence which depicts a colorful character is coined in three product trends, namely artisanal, green crafts and luxe lifestyle to present the models in different lights.

A rustic geometrical hanging lamp
A rustic geometrical hanging lamp made by Vito Selma.

The artisanal products are made from the hands of artists and inspired by their history, heritage and culture. These are made by Filipino craftsmen using skills that are handed over from generations to generations. One example is the weaving technique of the T’bolis in South Cotabato to make the T’nalak cloth. It is used as a material in making bags and wallets, and often used as accents in tops and dresses.

Green crafts carry the environment-friendly brand for the eco-conscious buyer. These items thrive on sustainability and aim to promote cultural preservation and social enterprise. The trend remains as the focus of most designs because more and more people are conscious about the products’ effect in the environment. Aside from using eco-friendly materials, which can be easily replaced and reproduced such as the indigenous fibers of abaca, buri and buntal, the use of recycled materials and upcycling are also becoming a trend. Recycled papers are made into paper sheets and stationeries, while recycled wrappers are made into bags.

Luxe lifestyle, meanwhile, caters to the niche market with discriminating taste. It includes products with top-of-the-line design, quality and befitting prestige brands. Internationally renowned designers, such as Kenneth Cobonpue and Vito Selma, on furniture are among the exhibitors under this showcase.

The Bridge

The show serves as the bridge that connects buyers to the sellers. Whether you are inside an exhibitor’s booth or a nearby café, having lunch or taking a break, you will see transactions being made, agreements being discussed, buyers bargaining, and sellers presenting their products.

It is through this avenue that a product made from this side of the world reaches the other side. It also forges relationship, may it be business or personal. It creates wealth in both countries by providing employment opportunities. It also allows cultural exchange between buyers and sellers.

Avenue for skills upgrading

The show also provides trainings on product design and development to participants to give them guides on how to improve their products. One initiative is the reinvention of balay-sisidlanan or house baskets by selected designers from the Design Center of the Philippines. The designers reinvented the house baskets, which were originally launched in the 1980s, using combined hand-woven techniques and 3D printing for molds. It aims to showcase Philippine basketry as the heart and soul of Filipino craftsmanship. The design and technique will be provided to exhibitors for free if they wish to develop and include them in their product lines.

Samples of the prototypes of the balay-sisidlanan features
Samples of the prototypes of the balay-sisidlanan features different house styles in the Philippines and the world.

The Manila FAME trade show is indeed an effective vehicle to propel trade in the country. Aside from showcasing aesthetically beautiful products, it also features the Filipino history, culture and art. It helps bring the Filipino artisanship and pride to the different parts of the world, as it allows the world to experience a piece of the Philippines in their own country.

About the author – Cherrylyn Baylon (Lycah)

EAP-Hinrich happenings-Hong Kong trade show blog-Blog Picture_Lycah

Cherrilyn Baylon (Lycah) is based in Manila and works as the Export Consultant for the Hinrich Foundation Export Trade Assistance program in the Philippines. She is responsible in pre-screening suppliers for ETA and provides them one-on-one training and practical approaches, using online marketing tools to increase export sales and create jobs. She also conducts research and interviews for the content of the Philippine Developing Country Sourcing Reports.

Prior to working with the Foundation, she was into development work for four years, focusing on micro, small and medium enterprises. She worked as a Program Coordinator (2 years) and a Project Development Analyst (2 years) for MASICAP MSME Development Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization that also promotes trade by helping MSMEs gain access to financing. She is trained in the preparation of project feasibility study and business proposals.

Lycah graduated from the Notre Dame of Marbel University in 2010 and obtained a degree on Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Management Accounting.