Friday, August 24, 2007

My 1st EURO TRIP ...

How would you feel if you’ve just been sent to Europe for an international training for FREE? That would be fabulous…fantastic!

And I’m fortunate to experience it now.

Yesterday, I finally received my passport with Schengen VISA for my trip and training in The Netherlands (also known as Holland). Two hours later , I finally booked my trip. Thanks to Destination Specialist (Cebu).

This training will be conducted by internationally accredited consultants and specialist hired by CBI (Center for the promotions of imports from developing countries) to coach us market development specialist from developing countries (like the Philippines).

CBI has sponsored for my accommodation at the Hilton Rotterdam Hotel and some amount for my fare to the venue, while CFIF, where I am working now, will shoulder my training allowance.

Titled CBI Intfair XVII, this seminar will commence on the 29th day of August and will end on September 7 at The Hilton Hotel, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

CBI Intfair XVII

The IntFair training aims to improve the knowledge and skills of BSO staff in the field of collective trade fair participations in Europe. The programme consists of a mix of lectures, a case study, field visits and group exercises.

During the training programme the following subjects will be covered:
· selection of suitable exhibitions;
· criteria and procedures for selecting exhibitors,
· stand lay-out and design principles,
· project management including budgeting and financing,
· promotion and public relations.

To visit a major fair organizer and an international trade fair in Europe are part of the programme. I guess we're travelling to Germany for this.

The training programme is designed in such a way that it allows the participants to combine their own experiences with the knowledge gained during the training.

In preparation of the training participants we had completed a pre-training assignment and had taken part in two e-learning session conducted by our assigned trainor.

What is more exciting about this trip is that I get to travel on 3 different planes and a train trip to get to the venue. Based on my official itinerary, here are my schedules: I’ll fly to Manila on the 26th to catch a very early Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong on the 27th. From Hong Kong, I’ll board an Air France Boeing 777 plane to Paris, France and Amsterdam, Netherlands in Schiphol Airport. From there, I’ll take a 1 hour and 15 minutes train ride to Rotterdam via Eurail.

I’m just excited like anyone else. For sure this trip will be an experience of a lifetime.

Europe here I come!

PHOTO CAPTION: A view of the windmills of Amsterdam, Netherlands at night.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Short Review on SINGAPORE: "The Lion City"

A three-hour flight from Cebu, Philippines aboard an Airbus A320 plane will take you to the smallest city-state in the Southeast Asia Region – Singapore.

Boasting as a natural port at the strategic portal of the Far East, Singapore has been the regions gateway since Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company rented out the island by signing a treaty with then Sultan of Johor Hussein Shah. Since then, Singapore was developed as a trading post and settlement, marking the entrance of the then fisherman village to the modern era.

The World War II became the great equalizer of this country to be the little-giant economy as it is now.

From a country of mass unemployment, housing shortages and scarcity of natural resources left in the devastations of World War II, Singapore’s government led by General Lee Kuan Yew navigated Singapore’s economy and posed it to become an attractive location for foreign investors for it’s ideal location as a natural port at the Straits of Singapore “the gateway” of the Far East to the West.

To realize this vision, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew initiated the urban planning and development of the main areas of Singapore through the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Major transportation and communication infrastructures were also built to complement the needs of the foreign direct investors aside from providing them ample tax incentives to initiate their business in the region. Major of the population were also moved to the countryside to lessen the density of the living publics in the urban areas.

50 years fast forward, Singapore now is the center of the growing international trade of Southeast Asia. As the 18th richest country in the world with total foreign reserves of US$ 139 billion aside from the bustling economy, the “Lion City-State” is also the center of electronics, manufacturing and financial trade in the region.

As new facilities, infrastructures and buildings requires land, Singapore has also reclaimed additional domains from the sea through the earth acquired from its hills, sea-bed and neighboring countries. From the original Land area of 581.5 square kilometers in 1960, Singapore’s total land area now is 699.3 square kilometers and growing. They are also planning to add another 100 square kilometers by year 2030.

More to its economic superiority is also Singapore’s aggressive lead in the Tourism industry in the region. In 2005, Singapore was visited by more than 9.7 million visitors all over the world contributing S$12.4 billion to the economy. They are also projecting a 14% increase of visitors every year.

The Singapore Government believes that the island-country-state may have been deprived of much raw materials needed for the economic growth of the country but we’re fortunate to have the resources that other countries have to drive growth of any country – Disciplined Manpower.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cebu: Furniture Capital of the Philippines, Design Destination of Asia

Cebu – A narrow island province about 225 kilometers long surrounded by 167 small islands is the Philippines' Queen City of South. It boasts of fine white sandy beaches, an underwater plateau, a magnificent marine sanctuary … it is the fastest growing economic region in the Philippines and the tomorrow's information technology hub of Southeast Asia.

Cebu also lives up to its reputation as the furniture capital of the Philippines. It enjoys a substantial percentage share of the country's furniture export sales which is over 60% of the total annual figures. This despite the fact that Cebu manufacturers comprise only 20% of the entire Philippine furniture industry.

In an industry that is dominated by small and medium entrepreneurs, it has succeeded in becoming a billion-peso industry. Today, the industry is employing a huge employment base of 220,000 workforce, both directly and indirectly hired, who are greatly dependent on the Cebu furniture industry for their utmost survival.

Noted for its distinct designs and excellent craftsmanship, the industry relies on its design capability and unique mix of indigenous materials to further keep its edge over its Asian competitors. The growing competition has anything but discouraged nor limited the very talented Cebuano furniture designers into creating beautiful furniture made from combinations of traditional and indigenous materials such as sea grass, abaca (Manila hemp), arorog, and butay (coconut twig) mixed with wood, bamboo, rattan, stone and wrought iron, aside from the traditional wood. These designs are expertly handcrafted by the finest craftsmen in the area, giving attention to the tiniest detail that make up the essence of each piece. At present it already serves the European, North American, the Middle East, and Asian markets, thus making it a furniture resource of great promise.

For the last eighteen years, the Cebu International Furniture and Furnishings Exhibition more popularly known as CEBU X has served as the most valuable marketing platform for most SMEs in Cebu's furniture industry.

Organized by the primary support organization of the Philippine furniture and furnishings export industry, the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. (CFIF), is responsible for fostering cooperation among its members, promoting the Philippines as a major furniture and furnishings resource in the international markets for over 30 years.

Cebu X is considered the biggest furniture trade event outside Metro Manila. Started in 1990 with just 35 exhibitors it has, over the years, grown to more than 123 participants from all over the Philippines. Participating companies from both the furniture and home furnishings category cover the classical, transitional and the modern cotemporary requirements of international buyers.

This year's run of Cebu X will be another feast of the senses as it features the finest boutique lifestyle presentation of the Filipino craftsman and designers. It will be held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotels and Casino, right at the heart of Cebu City, Philippines. Scheduled to open on February 26 next year, this four-day event will kick-off the Asian circuit of furniture shows.
This is Cebu.

A flourishing Asian trading post long before Magellan's ships arrived in 1521…

Balmy beaches, chilly mountains…

Furniture capital of the Philippines. Design destination of Asia.
PHOTO CAPTION: The featured photo is Kenneth Cobonpue's Yoda Chair. To know more about Mr. Cobonpue and his masterpieces, log-on to

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

1st Student's Acquaintance Day Organized by CBI Cebu South

More than 300 students from the cities and towns from the southern province of Cebu gathered for the 1st ever Student's Acquaintance Day held last August 20, 2007 at the D Family Park, Talamban, Cebu City, Philippines.

The whole fun-filled day was organized by the Christian Brotherhood International (CBI) Cebu South District and the Chapter Officers of Cebu Normal University (CNU), University of the Visayas (UV), University of Cebu (UC), Southwestern University (SWU) and Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT).
The activity aims to provide a venue for Iglesia Ni Cristo students to socialize and at the same time promote the spirit of cooperation.

Christian Brotherhood International (CBI) is the official student organization of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC). CBI is the ideal platform for INC high school and college students to discover and develop their talent and potentials toward spiritual and social development.

PHOTO CAPTION: Some of the student facilitators of the 2007 Cebu South District Student's Acquaintance Day.


What is small talk? Small talk is the ability to start a conversation with other people and keeping the conversation flowing.

Good conversationalist don’t monopolize conversation, but orchestrate it. Small talk experts always end up conversation bearing the admiration of the people whom they talk to. Look around you, most of those who can do small talk are good conversationalist and successful in their careers and life.

It may be a predicament to some, but should you wish to become an expert, you should practice and observe the following tools of knowing this skill and art known as L.I.F.E.

LISTEN. Every good conversationalist always exerts time to research for them to orchestrate the approach. Everything should be planned. Thus, every good speaker is able to identify what objective and purpose is he/she in for that matter. To successfully do this, take time knowing the following:

1. Your purpose, your objective
2. Basic information about the person/event /activity
3. The profile of the person you are talking too ( eg. name, age, address, nickname
4. Find a good timing.
5. Prayer. As God promises, those who will ask shall be given.

INTRODUCE. The old adage Golden Rule teaches us: “Do unto others as you would like others do unto you.” Therefore, if you want to be a friend, be a friend. We should take the first step in knowing the person. But how can I easily introduce myself?

1. Smile.
2. Introduce your name, creatively. Initiate an effective “opening line”. Don’t forget to introduce your fullname.
3. Offer a hand. However, please observe proper etiquette.
4. Start the talk. Find the persons interest.
IMPORTANT: Remember the person’s name. a man’s name is the sweetest word.

FOCUS. To successfully win a friend, a person should focus his time and effort in knowing the person intimately.To do this, observe the following:

1. Be sincere.
2. Act confident and comfortable.
3. Offer some free information.
4. Connect.
5. Talk Less, Listen more.
6. Empathize.

EXIT GRACIOUSLY. Every good thing must come to an end, so as with good conversation. Prepare some exit lines to accomplish this, however acknowledge that you sincerely appreciate talking to him/her: eg. “Thank you. It was a pleasure talking to you”. Should you wish to continue the conversation some other time, leave a “key” where she/he can contact you. You do the same.

One last thought. Your exit line should be coupled with a warm handshake and a friendly smile.

With this, you'll have a wonderful day knowing you have a new found friend.

Cebu X 2007: Definitely inspiring!

Cebu X 2007 – Everything Inspires

By Ruben Licera, Jr.

Cebu International Furniture and Furnishings Exhibition (Cebu X) this year showed a more dynamic and varied representation of its avant garde and design oriented masterpieces. The credit goes to Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation’s (CFIF) intensive design and product development program implemented by the business and design information powerhouse of the Philippine furniture export industry – the CFIF Information Centre (CFIF IC).

Tagged under the project name “Design and Product Development Program (DPDP) for Cebu X 2007”, 26 companies participated in a well-orchestrated series of consultancy visits coupled with seminars and workshops designed to enhance the industry’s outlook in conducting research and product development.

The pool of consultants for the program is composed of two of the industry’s leading designers, Carlo Tanseco and Val Padilla, along with three of the finest from Product Development and Design Center of the Philippines (PDDCP) – Art Delgado, James Non and Rowe Requejo.

The series of design and product development trainings and workshops with consultancy visits was done through CFIF’s collaboration with the Association of Industrial Designers (VDID). The partnership was facilitated by the Foundation of Economic Development and Vocational Training (Sequa) and funded by Asia-Invest of the European Commission. Featured resource persons are leading German industrial designers Matthias Votteler, Frank Bauer, Jan Armgardt and Auwi Stuebbe.

The participating companies’ products were highlighted in well-curated special settings located in major thoroughfares of the show.

The consultancy program is subsidized mainly by CFIF with funding from Asia-Invest of the European Commission and Pearl2 of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Cebu X 2007 international trade buyers, guest and visitors pulse showed that they were impressed with the newly showcased products displayed in boutique-style representation.

Despite the downtrend in statistics of the last shows, show organizers are optimistic that this development can still infuse the required adrenaline to further advance Philippine-made furniture and furnishing products to be in every home in the world

SHOW STATISTICS. USA is the country’s largest market contributing to almost 18% of the total sales during the show as reflected on the reports given by the exhibitors. Cebu X 2007 earned more than US$15 Million in total sales.

Industry Experts Conduct Design Trend Seminar during Cebu X 2007

As an added attraction to Cebu X 2007, design trend seminars were conducted by respected international industry expert. The seminars were to open to Cebu X exhibitors, CFIF members companies, the academe and other interested individuals.

Susanne Lengyel, an industrial designer and president of the German Association of Industrial Designers (VDID), conducted the “product Competence through Design” seminar last February 28. Among the topics discussed by Ms. Lengyel were the creation of sustainable design – what is possible and why we have to think different. Ms. Lengyel also shared her expertise in industrial designing – from concepts to realization. The 73 seminars audience was a mix of students, designers, company top management and international buyers.

Industrial Designer and Design Management consultant Frank Sander, on the other had, talked about furniture trends during the “Furniture Design in Europe” on March 1. The lecture include a presentation o the standing of international furniture fairs, magazine and shop displays in the 2006 and 2007 to show the interesting design developments in Europe and relate them to the Philippine furniture industry. Prof. Sander also talked about how to create new furniture design by evaluating past furniture trends. He discussed the important role of technology and materials for new furniture designs. A total of 67 persons attended the seminar.

Esteemed USA’s Furniture Today Publisher Joseph “Joe” Carroll meanwhile, shared some valuable insights in this talk on “The U.S. Market: Evolution or Revolution.” To an audience of 42 exhibitors, CFIF members and industry enthusiasts, Mr. Carroll explained the economic strategies that bring in business for exporters trying to establish themselves in the U.S. market. Mr. Carroll also gave out 723 channels of distribution for furniture, explained economic that must be considered and opportunities that exist for the small manufacturers. He also gave a comprehensive market overview of the U.S. Furniture market giving out a list of the top 25 US furniture retailers, and the new market niche markets to explore. He gave a prediction of things that will happen in the US market in 2007 as well as of the three keys to success in the business: delivery, price, and design innovation.

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Auf Wiedersehen, Sabine!

Under the clear dark skies of April, in a small yet memorable Despedida held in honor of an esteemed comrade; in front of other key players and movers of the Philippine furniture and furnishing export industry, CFIF President Michael Basubas reads: “Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. (CFIF) confers this Plaque of Recognition to . . . Mrs. Sabine Schacknat for her invaluable services and immeasurable contribution to the Philippine furniture and home furnishing export industry.”

After 6 years of passionate work in a far away land in the East she learned to call her second home, Sabine Schacknat, a treasured Consultant for Cebu X, left Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF) not with a heavy heart but with wonderful memories and gigantic contributions in the Philippine industry she grew to love as her own.

Sabs, to her intimates, shared six years of her life serving as the Marketing and Promotions Consultant of the Philippines primary support organization for the home furniture and furnishing export industry – the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. (CFIF).

“Sabine was instrumental in redefining and professionalizing the Cebu International Furniture and Furnishings Exhibition which CFIF organizes,” relates CFIF Executive Director Ruby Babao-Salutan in an interview.

“Her driving force to excel combined with her creative and expressive outlook,” narrates Director Salutan, “led Cebu X to be known internationally as the ‘design destination of Asia,’ which in the end won her the admiration of her colleagues in the field of furniture and furnishings designing.”

“In her own way, Sabine had also supported CFIF in business management and economics. Her exceptional abstract thinking has helped a lot Cebu X a lot in attaining its goal of finding the shows’ niche in the international market scene while showing to CFIF the effective and innovative marketing strategy suited for the positioning of the show,” adds Director Salutan.

Market Development Unit (MDU) Irene Simonette Ngosiok remembers Sabine’s charisma in dealing with people: “Sabine can take complex concepts and articulate them to just about anything. She simply has a gift of words and insight to process them on how a person thinks. These talents enable her to explain things clearly to different types of people and level with them easily especially during the numerous workshops and seminars which she personally handled for the industry, mostly done in the spirit of volunteerism.” Ms. Ngosiok had worked closely with Sabine for the past years when the latter had trained her personally in handling the Cebu X operations.

Human Resource, Development and Productivity (HRDP) Unit Manager Eiza Bautista-Florentino affirms these points as she relates, “Sabine is very professional, organized and effective in handling her seminars. She can easily relate difficult topics into easy chewable thoughts. With her departure, CFIF lost one of its potent trainor. We will surely miss her.”

Mrs. Florentino adds that Sabine always extends some hand to CFIF units especially on project proposal writing and design related concerns -- which are some of Sabine’s forte.

“Sabine for a while perhaps, had been a Filipino in her previous life,” yarns HRDP Supervisor Pinky Gonzales who had also worked in some of Sabine’s trainings in collaboration with HRDP. Ms. Gonzales fondly remembers some accounts where she never had any hard time blending with the CFIF staff. Mrs. Gonzales even recounts numerous occasions where this lass from Cologne, Germany empowered CFIF staff by training them to become professionals in their fields and to become equally competitive globally.

Ms. Schacknat’s resourcefulness, creativity and efficiency to come up with new and innovative approaches to critical areas faced by the industry had made out of her -- a model artist of diligence and vision.

“Her most successful achievement was a complex six-month in-house product development program for design teams in companies that she created and conducted for four years,” recounts Director Salutan.

“The said training was so tedious that it involves analysis, design development and prototype production. In the end, her performance as a teacher was outstanding and the rates she got from her students as well as from the companies were excellent. She helped the industry a lot,” Director Salutan relates.

Director Salutan further notes: “There’s a lot of good and excellent things in what Sabine has done to this industry. She was amazingly a heaven’s grace to us.”

And under the clear summer sky, under the moon and stars, with lighted candles and cool breeze of the night, Sabine Schacknat, with her beloved husband Konrad de Bortoli graced the occasion, received the plaque and thanked the family she learned to be with.

“All good things must come to an end,” as the saying goes. So is the stay of a true friend of the Philippine furniture industry.


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