Force of the New: Jude Tiotuico paves the way for the future of Philippine design

By Jacinto Ramos

One look at Jude Tiotuico’s showroom, Industria Edition at Greenbelt Residences and you know that the aesthetics scream mid-century era. It’s obvious that the designer owes his sensibilities to international design icons such as Charles Eames and Richard Neutra. Surprisingly, Jude credits Berenguer -Topacio, a Philippine-based design firm as one of his major inspirations.

The designer’s interpretation of furniture and home accessories in hammered metal combined with tapered legs in undulating forms and organic shapes has entered the spotlight forging the nation’s new creative frontier.

In an interview with interior designer Eric Paras, it was mentioned “when I started a collaboration with Jude in the past, he already had a very distinct design DNA. He is like a wizard who can play music with a power that can soften metal, and shape it into whimsical and bold statement pieces”.

Jude Tiotuico is forever looking for ways to create labor-intensive processes with a contemporary twist into steel forms expressing movement as in sculpture. The result merges organic structure to create imaginative furniture, lighting and decorative accessories.

When the designer was posed with the question of how design is vital to our everyday life, he answered: “design helps us as an inspiration and as a goal but more importantly so, it allows individuals to redefine space in their environment”.


Cebu Design Week Champions a New Era for Creative Industries

By Mr. Jing Ramos & CDW

When Cebu Design Week embarked on an ambitious project held last September 2019 at the IC3 Convention Center to position the city as a major destination for innovation and creativity, it raised eyebrows, including people from within the industry. Design comes in so many forms, with different facets, it was quite a stretch to accommodate every creative industry and at the same time, put all of them in one room to help them interact and collaborate. For all its
drawbacks and improbabilities, Cebu Design Week pulled the right punches in a heady atmosphere of celebration, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and education, a perfect launch pad for design consciousness.

Currently, design has evolved from simple, archetypal forms addressing only the most utilitarians needs to increasingly elaborate pieces reflecting politics and temper of the times. The vitality of the project lies in its ability not only in its core value to educate but also to explore relevant topics such as product design, urban planning, online influencing, and sustainable practices to promote a better and brighter life ahead of us.

In the words of the CDW Overall Chairperson Maria Luisa Booth, “a key ingredient in Cebu Design Week is to simply provide a stimulating and inviting forum for our designers and creatives to present their work. In bringing the creative fields together under one roof, we inspire collaboration between the creative fields. In this way, our movement has mileage to take it beyond its platform and into the future, so that Cebu Design Week continues to fulfill its mission.”

Positioning Cebu as a design-forward destination is no easy feat. Yet it went against all odds, exploring possibilities and opportunities towards a more inclusive and vibrant creative ecosystem. Cebu Design Week brought creatives from all industries together, it celebrated Filipino artistry, and most importantly, it boosted the pride of place. With UNESCO recognizing Cebu as a Creative City of Design before 2019 ended, Cebu Design Week promises to challenge the creatives and drive innovation in the region. ###


In the recent visit of Martha Stewart in the Philippines, products made of Rattan was featured in a Pop-Up exhibit by some of the best Furniture companies from various regions in the country.

Stewart, a well-known American retail businesswoman, writer, television personality, is the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She gained success through a variety of business ventures, encompassing publishing, broadcasting, merchandising, and e-commerce.

Last month, Stewart visited the Philippines to get new inspirations and ideas for production. According to her, the objective is to consider the Philippines as a possible source of ideas and items for her omni-media empire.      

Rattan is a climbing or trailing vine-like palm indigenous to tropical countries particularly in Asia. The strength and ease of manipulation of this type of material have made it one of the most popular of the many natural materials that are being used in wickerwork. Rattan materials are easier to harvest than timber, easier to transport and grows faster than trees. Nowadays, it has become a great alternative to wood and has been used to make the best furnishings in home or in the outdoors.

Philippine designers have utilized Rattan over the years not just because of ease in sourcing, but because it is a very good material, lightweight, durable, suitable for outdoor use, and to a certain extent, flexible. A lot of creativity can be exercised in the use of rattan in furniture making, particularly the core of the material. Almost all parts of the rattan can be utilized, from the skin of rattan strands that is used for weaving, the remaining stems then processed further, split into small diameters used as based material of rattan furniture.

In her recent blog about her trip to the Philippines, Stewart mentioned “I was very interested in learning more about rattan during this trip.” She also said “I loved seeing such a variety of pieces – both modern and more traditional.”

Its popularity as a material for Home Decors, both outdoor and indoor is unmistakable. Able to be bent and curved, the material takes on many wonderful curving forms. Its light, golden color brightens a room or outdoor environment and instantly conveys a feeling of a tropical paradise. No wonder buyers from all around the world are sourcing Lifestyle products made of this material since the early 90s.

The Pop-Up event featured eight (8) Furniture manufacturers located in the major furniture hubs in the Philippines: Manila and Pampanga (from the Luzon Island) and in Cebu (Visayas Island).  Among the ones represented were Archipelago, Albero Furniture, Calfurn, E. Murio, Luzon Rattan, South Sea Veneer, TN Philippines and More Than A Chair.

These companies have used the Rattan in their own creative ways, either as main raw material, or as mixed media. They are hoping that this Pop-Up show will be the takeoff point to pave again the road for the Philippine furniture in the global arena.

Martha Stewart and Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat  together with the pop-up exhibitors of PIFS.

This Pop-Up exhibit, curated by CRL designs, was initiated by the Philippine International Furniture Show (PIFS) in collaboration with the Department of Tourism in the Philippines and the various business support organizations – Chamber of Furniture Industries in the Philippines (CFIP); Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF) and the Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation (PFIF).

– AV


The Philippines International Furniture Show (PIFS) held back-to-back with the Interior & Design Manila (I&DM), the most-awaited focused events on all things design, lifestyle, and product application opens today at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. The events will run simultaneously until March 9 (Saturday) from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm daily.

With the joint efforts of the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP), Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF), and Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation (PFIF), and the Philippine Institute of Interior Designers (PIID), this three-day event will feature more than two hundred furniture manufacturers and interior brands, occupying the entire SMX Ground floor exhibition space, that aim to showcase their best offerings to the interior designers, architects, developers, purchasers, top-decision makers, business owners, and furniture enthusiasts visiting the show.

Some of the key players in the industry were in attendance during the Joint Opening Ceremony including: Paulina Suaco-Juan, Executive Director of Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM); Domingo Yap & Mary Ng, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII); Arthur Lopez, President of the Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc.; Eugene Yap, President of Hotel & Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP); Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., President of Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT); Takashi Ishihara of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO); Noli Nicanor, Manager of International Trade Fairs and Events Management of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines; Frederick Sibug President of the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA); IDr. Lilia De Jesus, President of Philippine Institute of Interior Designers (PIID); Duke Zuluaga, President of Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP) and Event Chairman; Ina Gaston, Event Chair of Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF); Philip Repato, Event Chairman of Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation (PFIF); and many more.

“We see PIFS as the ultimate collaboration of Filipino Collection. It is a trade event where manufacturers and designers show the world the ingenuity of our local manufacturers and designers, how we interpret the latest industry trends, and in many cases, take the lead in design innovation,” Duke Zuluaga, President of CFIP said. This year, PIFS will also be featuring the iDisenyo Design Competiton, showcasing top furniture designs from interior design students and professionals. Aside from this, the event will also be holding the PIFS Design Awards for participating exhibitors.

Known as a one-stop shop for all lifestyle and interior needs, the Interior & Design Manila in partnership with PIID once again holds the most anticipated two-day International Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Convention and Workshop, gathering prominent speakers around the world including IDr. Suzie Attiwill and IDr. Raquel Florendo, who discussed ‘What is next for Interior Design Education’; Mr. Pete Delantar and IDr. Debbie Palao who discussed the ‘Innovative Future of Local Industries’; Engr. Anon Pairot, Archt. Andy Hall, and Archt. Gerhard Bruyns who discussed ‘What is next for Spatial Practices’. Today, Archt. Joey Ho will discuss ‘Experience Design & Junctions of Innovation’; and IDr. Wilhelmina Garcia will discuss the ‘Steps Towards Sustainability’. With this year’s theme – Design Forward: Future Spaces, the talks in the conference focuses more on the future of interior design. Participants of this year’s conference can get as much as 15 CPD points. 

Furthermore, I&DM offers PIID Gallery Talks, the expo’s newest segment that feature’s the exhibitors’ cutting-edge products and lectures from selected speakers. “The growing number of exhibitors and visitors of I&DM is a testament that this event is being seen by many as the primary source for top-of-the-line interior needs”, said IDr. Lilia De Jesus, National President of PIID. “We started as a small expo four years ago, and I am glad that we have come a long way! May this show of ours grow more so that we can help the Philippines’ design industry flourish,” she added.

Come and visit the show to see new products from our exhibitors including: Furniture Doctor Design Corp., Adorno 72 Home Decors, Aerostone, Inc., Albero PH, AMC Trading, Artesania Manila Furniture, Inc., Azcor Lighting Systems Inc., Betis Crafts, Inc., Calfurn Manufacturing Phils. Inc., Cancio Contract Furniture Corp., Carpetworld Manufacturing Corporation, Cebu Fil Veneer Corporation, Clear Export Industries, Inc., Coast Pacific Mfg. Corp., Contemporaneo Design Enterprise, Crystal Works, Cymru Fine Furniture & Accessories Traders, Designs Ligna, Inc., E. Murio, Inc., Elgin Industries Inc., Excel Frames And Decors, Fashion Interiors Furniture Philippines Inc., Feliix, Inc., Four Legged Tiles, Hacienda Crafts Company, Inc., Hein Chrispijn Metamorfose Phils. Inc., Henece Enterprise, Home Mavericks, Inc., Iutis Lighting, JB Woodcraft, Inc., Las Palmas Furniture Inc., Lincoln Brooks, Longfor Trading Corporation, Luxury Supreme Ventures, Inc., Markline Home Furnitures, Mehitabel Inc., More Than A Chair, Multiflex Rnc Phils. Inc., Natural Craft Connection Enterprise, Natures Legacy Eximport, Inc., Obra Cebuana, Inc., Ohmm Furniture Mfg. Inc., P & B Valises Et Compagnie Inc., Pacific Traders & Manufacturing Corporation, Padi Floors And Decks Inc., Philiana Design, Planes And Angles, Red Heirlooms Furniture And Home Decors Shop, Retrospect Steampunk Studio By Ram Mallari, Rn Arts & Crafts, Southeast Metro Arts Inc., South Sea Veneer Corporation, Stofly Furniture, Stonesets International, Inc., Sylpauljoyce Furniture, Lights & Décor, Testex Swiss Textile Testing Ltd., Thomas And George Fine Furniture, Inc., Tumandok Crafts Industries, Vanport International, Inc., Venzon Lighting Manufacturing, Vito Selma, Weave Manila, Inc., Wood Classics Enterprise, Wooden Artickles, Yssa’s Crafts, Zentiments Handicrafts,  Alessi Coffee, American Technology, Inc. AMSAMM Property and Development, Inc., Ashton Technologies Corp., Big Pix Graphic Systems, Inc., Bisazza Phils., Black Hair Island Inc. (Due Pro), Builtlink Philippines, Inc., Concept Specialist, Inc., CT-Eidiya Enterprise, Fercui Ventures Corporation, Focus Global, Inc. (Hunter Douglas), FortuneSources Solutions, Inc., Global Trend Building Materials Specialist, GRM Biowood Interiors Corp., Hocheng Philippines Corporatio, ilaw atbp., Jflor Korea Corp., Junk Not, La Casa Deco, Landlite Philippines Corporation, LC5 and Mach Enterprises Inc., Matimco, Inc., Mattony, Inc., Mobler Enterprises, Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc., Phil. Graphic, Rich Graphix Brand, Inc., S2mit Corporation, Sawo Wellness Inc., Sea Olympus Marketing, Inc., Sun Cellular, Tech1 Corporation, Teresa Marble Corporation, Timbermate HMT Industries Corp., Woodcaretech Marketing Phils. Inc., World Home Depot Corporation, and many more!

PIFS and I&DM are co-organized by Global-Link Exhibitions Specialist, Inc. For more information, you may contact Global-Link at (02) 893 -7973 or visit the events official websites: and You may also visit their Facebook pages: @IDMNL and @PIFSmanila, and Instagram: @interiordesign.mnl and @pifs_manila. Admission for walk-in visitors is P500.00 per entry.



On March 7 to 9, the Philippines International Furniture Show (known to some simply as PIFS), one of Southeast Asia’s premier trade fairs, will once again offer an extensive range of furniture products, accessories, and décor at the SMX Convention Center Manila, Mall of Asia Complex. This event is jointly organized by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF), the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP), and the Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation (PFIF). Visitors are encouraged to register online at to get a free 1-day pass.

Known as the “Milan of Asia”, the Philippines has exhibited a strong reputation for innovative and original, often ground-breaking, ideas and design interpretation. That is why PIFS continues to attract buyers from all over the world who want to see first-hand what Filipino design and craftsmanship has to offer. Some come from countries as far as the United States of America, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, China, Australia, Saudi Arabia, France, Thailand, Germany, India and many more.

“As we organize PIFS, we organize one of the premier venues for all furniture and furnishing products that are up to par to world-class standards,” said Eduardo Zuluaga, Overall Event Chairman for PIFS and President of the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines. “It is where we show the world the ingenuity of our local manufacturers and designers, how we interpret the latest industry trends, and in many cases, take the lead in design innovation.”

Among the highlights is the iDisenyo Interior Design Competition which will be showcasing the teams’ final furniture pieces and awarding the winners during PIFS. iDisenyo is a contest for teams of interior design students and professionals and their corresponding furniture manufacturer as partner. Each team will be designing a furniture piece that fit their manufacturer’s mission and vision, taking into consideration the increasing limitation of space without sacrificing function, comfort and aesthetics. iDisenyo is organized by the University of the Philippines Interior Design Alumni Association (UPIDAA) and the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP) in collaboration with Adams Philippines.

PIFS proves to be the ultimate furniture lifestyle event fit for all design and furniture enthusiasts. “This year, we decided on portraying different kinds of lifestyles and stories behind our featured furniture pieces, furnishings, and fixtures,” says Christina Gaston, Event Chair for the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. “PIFS remains to be a curated venue that is truly a feast for the senses – you’ll see different styles, techniques, and textures from different designers and manufacturers,” Gaston adds.

Some of this year’s exhibitors who will feature their latest creations at the show include Aerostone, Inc., Albero Ph, Amc Trading, Artesania Manila Furniture, Inc., Azcor Lighting Systems Inc., Cancio Contract Furniture Corp., Calfurn Manufacturing Phils. Inc., Carpetworld Manufacturing Corporation, Cebu Fil Veneer Corporation, Clear Export Industries, Inc., Coast Pacific Mfg. Corp. , Contemporaneo Design Enterprise, Cymru Fine Furniture & Accessories Traders, Designs Ligna, Inc., E. Murio, Inc., Fashion Interiors Furniture Philippines Inc., Feliix, Inc., Filipino Creazione De Mano, Inc., Furniture Doctor Design Corp., Hacienda Crafts, Hein Chrispijn Metamorfose Phils. Inc., Home Mavericks, Iutis Lighting, JB Woodcraft, Inc., Las Palmas Furniture Inc., Lincoln Brooks, Longfor Trading Corporation, Luxury Supreme Ventures, Inc., Mehitabel Inc., More Than A Chair, Multiflex Rnc Phils. Inc., Natural Craft Connection Enterprise, Obra Cebuana, Inc., Ohmm Furniture Mfg. Inc., P & B Valises Et Compagnie Inc., Pacific Traders & Manufacturing Corporation, Philiana Design, Red Heirlooms Furniture And Home Decors Shop, Showcase Carpet Center & Co., Southeast Metro Arts Inc., South Sea Veneer Corporation, Testex Swiss Textile Testing Ltd., and Venzon Lighting Manufacturing.

Last year, PIFS welcomed over 7,000 visitors from 32 countries. For more information about the show, visit our website and pre-register to get your one-day complimentary pass at and follow us on Facebook: Philippines International Furniture Show, and on Instagram: @pifs_manila.



Published by | February 24, 2018


Here at Ronac ART center for the Philippines International Furniture Show 2018 media launch. Filipino craftsmanship deserve more praise and appreciation! I’m amazed at how intricate the pieces are especially the wooden furniture. I was so excited to see all the sample works of different crafters and designers thats truly proudly pinoy!

The Philippines International Furniture Show (known to some simply as PIFS) is one of Southeast Asia’s premier trade fairs, offering an extensive range of furniture products, accessories, and décor. It is jointly organized by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF), the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP), and the Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation (PFIF) and will be held on March 8 to 10 at the SMX Convention Center Manila, Mall of Asia Complex. Visitors are encouraged to register online at to get a free 1-day pass. Read more.



Published by | February 23, 2018


This is  Lariza Garcia and I will share to you today the event that I attended last Feb 21,2018 at the Ronac Lifestyle Center in Magallanes. The event was the media launch of the upcoming Philippines International Furniture Show that will be held on Mar 8-10 at the SMX Convention Center Manila, Pasay City.

The Philippines International Furniture Show (known to some simply as PIFS) is one of Southeast Asia’s premier trade fairs, offering an extensive range of furniture products, accessories, and décor. It is jointly organized by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF), the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP), and the Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation (PFIF).

Present during the event were the overall  event chairman of PFIS and President of Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines; Mr. Eduardo Zuluaga  as well as Ms. Ina Gastron, event chair for the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. introduces the guest speaker of the day. Read more.


With the theme ‘Reflections’: Ultimate design and furniture show set March 8-10

Published in Manila Bulletin | February 13, 2018

PIFS pays tribute to Osmundo Esguerra

“This year, we decided on portraying different kinds of lifestyles with our featured furniture pieces, furnishings, and fixtures,” said Ina Gaston, event chairperson for the CFIF.

“That’s how we came up with this year’s theme of ‘Reflections.’  Every day, each person we interact with, every place we go to, the pieces define the lifestyle and way of living.”

As a show feature, PIFS will bring one of the most respected hardwood artists and furniture designers in the country. Osmundo Esguerra, a self-made furniture maker, has made a name for himself by having a distinct style and approach in handling indigenous wood. His crafts reflect his natural creativity and ingenuity, celebrating the true Filipino craftsmanship. In commemoration of his artistry, PIFS will be doing a special tribute to showcase a number of pieces by Esguerra during the show. Read more.


Ultimate Design and Lifestyle Experience set at PIFS For March 2018

Published by

The Philippines International Furniture Show (known to some simply as PIFS) is one of Southeast Asia’s premier trade fairs, offering an extensive range of furniture products, accessories, and décor. It is jointly organized by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF), the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP), and the Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation (PFIF). This will be held on March 8 to 10 at the SMX Convention Center Manila, Mall of Asia Complex. Visitors are encouraged to register online at to get a free 1-day pass.

“We see PIFS as the ultimate collaboration of Filipino Collection. It is where we show the world the ingenuity of our local manufacturers and designers, how we interpret the latest industry trends, and in many cases, take the lead in design innovation,” said Eduardo Zuluaga, overall event chairman of PIFS and President of Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines. Read more.


Negrense furniture designer bags Asian Selection Awards in Thailand


A producer from Negros Occidental was chosen as the country’s awardee for Asean Selections 2017 by the Support Arts and Crafts International Center of Thailand (Sacict), which supports the creation and sale of folk arts and crafts.

Christina Gaston, owner of Hacienda Crafts in Manapla town, received the recognition from Sacict chief executive officer Amparwon Pichalai in rites held at Bangkok Arts and Crafts Center in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday.

Gaston was the only awardee from the Philippines among the nine recipients from different Asean countries in this year’s recognition with emphasis on innovative craft and basketry. Read more.


CFIF: Synergizing Cebu’s Furniture Industry

By Verne Y. Ahyong

   Introducing the CFIF

Planning sessions w several stakeholdersSince it was established in 1974, the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. (CFIF) has been a leader in the local furniture industry. It envisions its members as the preferred source of innovative and quality furniture in the Philippines by the year 2020, and works hard toward achieving this goal.

Ruby Salutan, as CFIF’s executive consultant for the past eight years and executive director for 18 years prior to that, has witnessed the foundation’s growth and development over many years.

She talks about how the CFIF was originally founded to address the needs of Cebu furniture makers back in the day. It was to be a forum where industry related issues and concerns could be discussed and resolved corporately, an organization that could help furniture player consolidate their efforts and resources toward common goals.

“Even today, the CFIF is still in the forefront of rationalizing the industry’s needs and creating programs to address the various needs of its members, in the form of trainings, consultancies, business missions, and trade fairs,” Ruby says. “It also seeks opportunities of growth for members by connecting with international, local government and non-government partners that can provide assistance and support to the industry.”

Ruby says her biggest contribution to the CFIF was professionalizing the organization with the support of the Board of Directors and the staff. Together, they were able to grow the Cebu Next furniture show, and now the Philippine International Furniture Show, into becoming among the most important and must-see furniture shows in Asia.

Building Partnerships

4 trends seminarRyan James Mantuhac, representing the Philippine Institute of Interior Designers (PIID) Cebu Chapter, reminisces about how, during his college days, the Cebu Next furniture show was one of the most awaited events in Cebu and Asian furniture industries.

“For me, that was the most significant milestone of the CFIF. They put Cebu in the map of the world as a ‘Milan of the Philippines,’” Ryan says.

He talks about the abundance of raw materials in Cebu, and how the CFIF is able to develop home-grown talent, creative and innovative ideas and products to take advantage of these resources. Ryan says: “Furniture pieces from well-known furniture designers and companies in Cebu are the most-sought after among our clients. Buying their furniture is like buying a piece of art.”

The PIID and CFIF have worked together on projects in the past, including TUBOD: The Philippines’s Ultimate Domestic Furniture Trade Show in 2013. The pioneering exhibit’s goal was to penetrate the local market, which, at the time, mistakenly perceived local furniture as being too expensive. Now, the domestic market continues to be a major source of business for furniture companies in Cebu.

The PIID looks forward to working with CFIF again the near future, perhaps in the booming industry of condominium living.

Fred Escalona, executive director of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) seeks to help local furniture makers build capacity, find buyers, innovate, and be competitive through training sessions and seminars run in partnership with the CFIF.

He talks about projects PHILEXPORT and CFIF have partnered on:

“Together, we drafted a Sector Export Marketing Plan (SEMP). We also did a value chain analysis with Dutch donor organizations, and our local experts also got involved. We also worked together in the running of advocacy campaigns versus bureaucracy, red tape, inefficiency, and the high costs of doing business.”

Fred hopes that, with assistance from the local government, PHILEXPORT and CFIF can synchronize their road maps and be more aggressive in marketing efforts such as trade missions, sourcing missions, and business-matching events. He also hopes they can continue the fight for deregulation in the furniture industry and the reducing of red tape, to make it easier for furniture companies to do business in the country.

“The days of waiting for buyers are over,” Fred says. “We need to seek for them aggressively by going out to find them. We must also develop a successful and popular brand in the world markets.”

Today, the CFIF’s local partners include the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-Cebu, Bureau of Customs, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, University of San Carlos, University of the Philippines, and Bohol Island State University.

Strength in Numbers

Training w DOSTDeveloping partnerships has been beneficial to CFIF, but Ruby says that the foundation is only as good as its membership. Without the active support and participation of its members, the Cebu furniture industry would be unable to sustain itself and grow. Fortunately, local furniture companies continuously engage in partnerships and projects with each other.

The Holistic Coalition of the Willing (HoliCOW) is a sustainable furniture and housewares company based in Cebu City. It is comprised of furniture designers committed to sustainability, traceability, and fair trade practices in furniture production. Among its members are Hacienda Crafts, Nature’s Legacy, and the Co-Creative Studio, and Detalia Aurora—who are also members of CFIF.

Furniture City, spearheaded by Lenbert Manufacturing, seeks to be a one-stop shop for all things furniture in Cebu. The furniture superstore now occupies a 4,000 square-meter space where CFIF members including Mehitabel, Stonesets, and Obra Cebuana display and sell their wares together.

Maria Luisa Booth, executive vice president of Mehitabel Furniture, Inc., says her company could not have survived without its fellow CFIF members:

“There is indeed strength in numbers. Without the advocacy of our fellow members over the years—and their passion for furniture—we believe that furniture making would have died as an industry and the Philippines would have lost the special skill set that comes with making fine furniture. We appreciate the continued commitment of these members, and stand ready to advocate them on behalf of ourselves, our people, and our industry.” ∎

Cebu: the Home of Quality Furniture

By Verne Y. Ahyong

3 Sara woodcraft product lr

Over the decades, Cebu has been home to local and international furniture companies both big and small. There is much furniture-makers love about Cebu, from its abundant natural resources to its skilled craftsmen.

Business owners—from as near as Manila to as far as Europe—have chosen Cebu as the place to live, to build and run their furniture companies. Here are some of their stories.

Home Sweet Home

Carlo Cordado, president and chief executive officer of Fil Veneer Corporation, migrated to Cebu in 1995.

His company was a pioneer in the Mactan Export Zone when it was established in 1985. Back then, the company focused on one thing: producing sliced veneer, a decorative layer of fine wood used as raw material in making furniture.

Carlo pursued a diversification strategy after taking over company operations. Now, Fil Veneer specializes in using bamboo and palm when manufacturing its own avant-garde furniture. Carlo’s goal in 2017 is to start a furniture clinic in the province.  

Today, Carlo sees Cebu as home: “As someone previously living in Rome, Cebu is a very simple city for me. But it is here that I have found my second home. I am also very much in love with the wood, other raw materials, and the great people of this country.”

The Specialists

Cymru furniture owners lr

Cebu Fine Furniture and Accessories Traders (CYMRU) is a furniture company that caters to the high end branch of the market. It was set up by husband and wife David and Joetrissa Maynard in 2005.

Before opening CYMRU, David had worked for two Cebu-based furniture export companies from 1985-2004. This work experience allowed him to better learn the trade and build relationships with key persons:

“Having worked her for so many years and having been fortunate enough to work with so many talented people, I was able to ‘hand-pick’ a talented workforce of skilled craftsmen,” David shares. “Each of them were specialists in their own fields—carving, cabinet making, machining, polishing, and, very importantly, quality control.”

David’s quality team of furniture craftsmen contributes greatly to CYMRU’s continued success. The company recently expanded its business, by installing an in-house metal working facility.

This allows the company to save money by producing its own hardware equipment instead of buying from other hardware companies. It also reduces manufacturing downtime. Thus, CYMRU has earned a reputation for delivering quality goods on time.

Lots in Store

Cristine Lo, chief executive officer of Coast Pacific Marketing Corporation, shares how she and her family moved to Cebu from Manila in 1984 when they were assigned to manage the family business in the province.

From, 1984 to 1992, they expanded the business by partnering with international clients from North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, Australia, and Asia.

In 1992, they decided to open their own furniture company, and Coast Pacific was born. The new company has taken advantage of the local hospitality industry boom, by focusing on supplying contemporary indoor and outdoor furniture to the hotel and hospitality sector

The Lo family saw lots of potential in Cebu—the people and their skills, the province’s accessibility to local and international trade: “We knew that we would prosper here because all the factors we needed for the business were already here. We have grown our roots here for the next generation and their successors,” Cristine shares.

Today, Coast Pacific now a holding company to a diversified line of businesses in Cebu. They now operate a hotel, fast food chain, motorcycle assembly plant, car dealership, in addition to real estate developments, construction and furniture retail stores.

Cristine says: “There is a lot in store for Coast Pacific. We have to be abreast and dance with the tunes. When opportunity comes knocking we always consider, study, and analyze.”

Going Local

Lenbert Manufacturing, Inc. has a different story. Owned by Cebuanos, the company is already well entrenched in the local furniture industry. However, the furniture export slump caused by the global financial crisis encouraged the company to shift focus from the export market to the local market.

Enter Furniture City, the brainchild of Lenbert’s marketing director Jim Cassels: “Since we had an ideal property located on Hernan Cortes near a furniture marketing area, we decided to renovate an existing building to become a furniture store,” Jim says.

“However, we did not want to be just another furniture store, so we invited local furniture manufacturers and exporters to join us under the banner of Furniture City.”

The project has been a huge success. Just three months after its grand opening in September 2015, Furniture City expanded its floor space from 1,600 square-meters to 2,500 square-meters. The furniture store opened with 13 tenants, but now has 23 companies occupying a 4,000-square-meter space.

More than just pre-made and made-to-order furniture from the highest end to the community market, the store also provides advice from architects, interior designers and decorators.

Jim envisions Furniture City as the one stop shop for anyone needing furniture.

Welcome to the Family

Sara Woodcraft siblingsIn the fall of 2012, Sara Woodcraft Sweden Corporation transferred its furniture production facility from Indonesia to Cebu, Philippines. Company vice president Alexander Hey says they were drawn to the country because IKEA was producing their classical line of furniture here at the time.

Sara Woodcraft chose Cebu because of its abundant raw materials and passionate workforce. Alexander says: “We found the passion of the craftsmen here and the many quality materials available way superior to what we had seen in our 20 years of furniture-making in Indonesia.”

Specializing in making European classics and wooden furniture, Sara Woodcraft has experienced rapid growth in Cebu over the past years. The company has already outgrown its initial factory. They have transferred to a factory five times larger than their previous one in order to cope with growth.

“We look forward to continuing to expand our other companies in Europe and the US, so we can drive more business to ourselves and the Philippines,” Alexander says.

One aspect that contributes to Sara Woodcraft’s success in Cebu is its flat organizational hierarchy. Josefin Hey, Alexander’s sister and the company’s marketing coordinator, says that management was able to build a strong team spirit among employees by listening to their team members, allowing everyone to grow together as individuals and as a whole.

“We are and have always aimed to be a result-driven and change-oriented company in everything we do,” shares Josefin. “A company that doesn’t question systems, doesn’t challenge, doesn’t believe in people, and doesn’t try to improve products and services will soon be out of business.

Alexander and Josefin both experienced culture shock when they first started doing business in Cebu. Both of them stress the importance of being patient and communicating with their team members, especially at the start when misconceptions and misunderstandings were common.

One way they did this was by developing a certain ‘furniture lingo’ by which everyone in the company could understand each other despite language differences. Another was by really getting to the bottom of why an incident or deviation has appeared, so they could prevent it or similar events from happening again.

Sara Woodcraft has also introduced some best practices from Sweden to Cebu:

“Let’s be real. Alexander and I grew up in a very developed country…where we are fortunate enough to avail free healthcare and education,” Josefin says. “So, as a young entrepreneur, I want to bring my knowledge and really make a change—a furniture factory that gives an almost 100 percent safe and clean work environment.”

Josefin sees her employees as essential to the company’s success: “I want to thank my Sara Woodcraft Sweden family for making what we do possible. Without them, we wouldn’t be what and where we are today. Their strong dedication to the company is something we are and always will be thankful for.” ∎

Furniture and Sustainability

By Verne Y. Ahyong

2 HoliCow social responsibility

 Nature, Local Communities, and Weaving Traditions

“Being a sustainable manufacturer is a choice. You have to be willing to be sustainable.” These are the words of Christina Borromeo-Gaston, creative director of Hacienda Crafts Company.

Founded in the early 1990s, Hacienda Crafts is a Negros Occidental-based furniture company known for its environmental-social focus of doing business. The company works with nature, the local community, and indigenous weavers in designing quality furniture pieces and accessories.

“We do what we can with our resources and networks at hand,” Borromeo-Gaston says. “We are a small but passionate company that hopes we make a difference in the lives of all our stakeholders.”

The coconut twig is the first local raw material Hacienda Crafts worked with. It is part of the coconut tree where the fruit grows. Commonly removed, discarded, and burned as firewood when coconuts are harvested, the coconut twig has found new life as furniture pieces and accessories. Coconut twigs grow back continuously when removed, so they are a sustainable resource as well.

Hacienda Crafts works with communities that already grow coconuts. Harvesting and processing coconut twigs provides them an added source of income to tide them over in between harvest periods.

The furniture company also works with local artisan communities, like the weavers of the T’boli and Maranao Tribes, both from Southern Philippines.

“Hacienda Crafts works with community leaders who take care of growing their own weaving groups. Then, we partner with government and non-government organizations to teach communities skills like textile coloring and material preparation,” Borromeo-Gaston shares.

To strike a balance between supporting local weaving traditions and meeting market demands, the company enlarges the patterns and changes the colors of selected weaving designs.

“This is our indirect way of preserving our local weaving traditions,” says Borromeo-Gaston. “We believe that using Philippine fabrics—and slightly altering them—creates a bigger market for indigenous textiles. In turn, this encourages weavers to continue with their craft.”

The LOOM Collection is another of Hacienda Craft’s advocacy initiatives. Partnering with local schools, the company collects discarded foil packs and plastic packaging. These materials are shredded into threads, which are then worked on by the Tubigon Loom Weavers in Bohol.

Borromeo-Gaston admits there are added costs to being socially responsible, but that the benefits outweigh these costs:

“The costs of being socially responsible are not only monetary, but include the effect on society. Design is our means to provide value by bringing products to the market, so we can justify the costs. We want the best opportunities for those who work with us because we want their lives and the lives of future generations to improve. We always hope for a better Philippines.”

Furniture-Making, Engineering, and the Environment

What happens when you mix the environment, engineering, and furniture-making?

You get Nature’s Legacy Eximport, Inc., a furniture company founded by husband and wife Pete and Cathy Delantar.

Naturecast®, Nucast®, Marmorcast®, Brauncast®, and Stonecast: these are five material innovations invented and trademarked by this company. Each material has a unique application in manufacturing home furnishings, garden accessories, product packaging, and even eco-jewelry.

Pete Delantar, chief executive officer of Nature’s Legacy, narrates how a bushfire inspired him and Cathy to start innovating with natural materials:

“There was this bush fire we personally witnessed in the US. We saw the devastating effects it had. All the waste, it stuck with us…We remembered the brushfire when gathering heaps of agro-forest waste such as twigs, fallen leaves, broken branches, and shrubs, during a forest-cleaning activity sponsored by our company,” he begins.

“Instead of burning them as was our usual practice, Cathy suggested we experiment using these in manufacturing new products and our already existing products. Being the engineer that I am, I immediately began product development and prototyping using different measures and binding materials. This brought the creation of our first trademarked material, Naturecast®.”

Naturecast® is a sustainable, biodegradable, and recyclable material made from agro forest debris. It is used to manufacture tables, chairs, wall art, bowls, planters, and lampshades.

Despite the quality of their innovation, Nature’s Legacy faced a big challenge early on.

Until the material was launched at the Ambiente Fair in Germany, it faced major criticism locally. Europe, already advocating environment-friendly products and practices, was quick to accept and recognize the innovative product.

Naturecast® won the 2015 Gold Invention Award at the 43rd International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland

This international recognition and the increasing demand for products made from sustainable, natural, and recycled materials, inspires Pete and Cathy to continue innovating not just their materials and products, but their whole manufacturing process as well.

“Our rainwater collection system uses two reservoirs with a combined capacity of more than 25,000 gallons of water,” Pete explains. “We use lots of water when running our factory and testing our products, so we save plenty on water expenses. We also share our excess water to neighboring communities during drought season.”

 Nature’s Legacy’s manufacturing plant itself is designed to be energy efficient. High ceilings allow for ample ventilation and brightness, reducing the need for fans and lights. Using LED light bulbs is prioritized. The company’s large land area allows for natural air and sun drying of manufactured products.

In addition to proper waste segregation, the recycling and innovative use of waste materials is an integral practice of the company. For example, they use scrap waste from cut-out carton boxes for base packing their products.

Over the years, Pete and Cathy have learned plenty from inventing and patenting their own materials and processes.

“Owning a patent outweighs more than just research and development costs. It gives us the right to stop others from copying and commercializing our innovations and inventions without our permission,” Pete shares. “Adopting an intellectual property strategy protects our designs and processes, and secures the integrity of our product.”

Joining Forces for Sustainability

The Holistic Coalition of the Willing (HoliCOW) is a sustainable furniture and housewares company based in Cebu City. To join the coalition, furniture designers must undergo a careful vetting process, to ensure they adhere to the coalition’s three corporate values of sustainability, traceability, and community.

“Sustainability in design, in material, in perspective,” explains HoliCOW communications officer Kae Batiquin. “A sense of responsibility and grasp of the bigger picture: the role one’s brand plays in ensuring that a healthy ecosystem of positive outputs is generated.”

Traceability pertains to authenticity and documentation in terms of best practices and design and manufacturing, while community—or the Filipino identity—refers to recognizing and empowering local grassroots communities to earn a living while making their trade known to the world.

Hacienda Crafts and Nature’s Legacy are among the coalition’s original members. They are a staple in the gallery’s roster, and were part of HIMÔ: A Space + Making Fair, a collaborative event HoliCOW launched with 32 Sanson by Rockwell Land last November 2016.

“We curated spaces relevant to the condominium lifestyle, the atmosphere, and the vision of Rockwell Land, featuring Visayan and Cebuano-design, manufactured, and innovated pieces. An eclectic mix of community-supported handicrafts meets export-quality furniture and home accessories,” says Kae.

Other projects HoliCOW recently engaged in include a materials mission to several regions in the Visayas. Joining them were representatives from the European Chamber of Commerce Cebu (ECCP), with support from the Department of Trade and Industry in Regions VII and VI.

Another is the DTI Cebu Tech + Design Initiative, where the two groups are working with tech developers on prototypes that merge function and efficiency for lighting systems.

“This is where the ‘holistic’ in our name comes from: concern for all aspects that go into creating a product, from the care and sustainability of the materials used, the people who are involved with it from the beginning, and  the possibilities that it can present to the end user and how it can positively affect the latter,” shares Kae.

“Still, at the forefront is our thrust in showcasing and pushing Filipino innovation and design to a level that is globally-acknowledged, fulfilling international standards.”

For the 2017 Philippine International Furniture Show, HoliCOW is bringing the spotlight to healing the oceans, a natural resource directly affecting the Visayan islands. With garbage gathering in unprecedented volume, they look to upcycling: injecting value to goods used and turning them into something newer, fresher, and functional.

HoliCOW looks to cleanup communities in Negros Occidental, collecting broken glass, driftwood, and plastic sacks that accumulate along the shoreline. Then, working artisans in the immediate community to develop furniture and home accessories using these waste materials as key ingredients in their construction. ∎

Furniture: a Family Matter

By Verne Y. Ahyong

Table Manners

1 Obra Cebuana Justin & Selina Romualdez lr“Family members who are involved in running a business together often are more committed to its success because they all have a stake in seeing the business prosper,” shares Evelyn Selma, managing director of Stonesets International, Inc. “This deep commitment has made our companies resilient, even when business was slow and finances were tight.”

Husband and wife Moises and Evelyn have been running Stonesets for three decades now. Vito, their son, runs the Vito Selma Design Studio, while Selina, their daughter, co-manages Obra Cebuana with her husband Justin Romualdez. An affinity for the furniture business runs in the Selma family.

“It came as second nature to me and Vito since we witnessed the Stonesets factory grow from day one. We’ve seen the transformation of the factory itself and all furniture designs through the years,” Selina says.

“We were always encouraged to ‘play’ and work simple jobs until we landed official jobs in the company. Many moons after, and I am encouraging my kids to do the same. My artistic son most especially enjoys the freedom of art in the factory, as he has endless materials to work with.”

Vito and Selina both worked for the family business in the past. Now, they manage their own furniture businesses, as the value of entrepreneurship was strongly encouraged by their parents.

“We instilled in the minds of the children that entrepreneurship is in finding the idea, grabbing the opportunity, taking a risk, and setting aside comfort to set up a business that will provide jobs,” Evelyn says.

Family meals are very important to the Selma family. It is common to see three generations of Selmas enjoying each other’s company at the dining table.

“Our home has a very big square dining table that seats twelve people. Since Selina lives next door and Vito is often in the house, we usually have dinners together and talk about anything and everything with the small children present,” Evelyn shares.

“Cellphones are not allowed and talking is very much encouraged. In doing this the small children are aware of what business we are all involved in. We believe that meals together as a family provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else.”

Stonesets, Vito Selma, and Obra Cebuana targets different markets. Stonesets caters to the classical and traditional furniture markets. Vito Selma focuses on modern wood furniture, while Obra Cebuana’s specialty lies in using rattan and weave patterns.

Still, the Selmas find ways to work with and complement each other. Selina sends workers for immersion in the Stonesets factory, where Vito also trains interns, works with the Stonesets Design Team. Vito always ensures all three brands are present when doing interior design projects. When the Selmas have new clients, they cross-promote the experiences and opportunities each of their brands offer.

“What’s fascinating is that sometimes all three brands are present in the same setting: a retail shop presenting furniture from a variety of distributors,” Evelyn shares. “It’s a wonder that all our items can be found together in an eclectically designed room.”

Constant Change

1 Stonesets PRINCESS Chair lrWith over 20 years of experience in the furniture and home accessories industry, Detalia Aurora is a multi-generational success story. The business now boasts an archive of more than 300 designs, an extensive library to satisfy even the most discerning clients.

“Product development and quality is what drives success in our business,” shares Detalia Aurora manager and co-owner Guillermo Rodriguez. “On the design and development side, we are now more flexible and highly capable in accommodating buyers’ needs.”

One innovation the company has implemented recently is the Co-Creative Studio, a branding arm managed by Guillermo’s daughters Vikki and Paula, who are both furniture designers.

“Co-Creative was conceptualized as a means to develop other product lines like home accessories, lighting, and a variety of decorative home pieces,” says Guillermo. “The studio is headed by my daughters, who collaborate with local and international designers on new ideas and products for the company.”

While Detalia Aurora was once a traditional furniture company, the Co-Creative Studio is a youthful community-oriented brand that aims to inspire an appreciation for Filipino design. The use of natural materials and local craft is encouraged, and younger clients and aspiring designers are attracted to the brand. Now, the Detalia Aurora brand appeals to buyers across generations.

The Rodriguez family is passionate about their furniture business. They are obsessed producing the best quality products, through the best use of local and international materials, and utilizing the ingenuity of craftsmen in Cebu. This constant drive for change and innovation continues to fuel Detalia Aurora’s success. Guillermo says it best:

“Our company is a family owned business. We agreed not to talk about business matters once we arrive home, but we can’t help talking about furniture over dinner, and even during bedtime!”

Family Legacy

1 Mehitabel Ownership lr

When Doña Maria Montenegro Aboitiz started Mehitabel Furniture, Inc. in 1947, she wanted to provide employment to people suffering after the Japanese occupation. She also wanted to take advantage of rebuilding efforts made necessary after the war.

“Shortly after starting the company my grandmother was approached by an American G.I. named Colonel Gusshurst,” shares Maria Luisa Booth, executive vice president of Mehitabel. “He was impressed by Philippine rattan furniture and thought it would be popular in America. He convinced her to make rattan furniture for export. It turned out to be a very good idea.”

Maria grew up in the furniture business. Her grandmother’s house was right next to the factory where her mother Josephine Aboitiz Booth also worked. She and her brother often spent time, after school and on weekends, playing in the factory and hanging out with their mother and grandmother.

Dinner conversations at the Aboitiz residence frequently revolved around the furniture business: “We had buyers visiting frequently. There weren’t many good restaurants nearby, so we always had buyers in our home for dinner,” Maria says.

Quality has been the consistent thread in Mehitabel’s 70 years in the furniture business. Maria Aboitiz wanted to make the highest quality furniture, with the best materials and craftsmen she could find. Taking over the business in 1969, Josephine built upon her mother’s legacy, with a focus on elegance and grace. She cared about her people deeply and got depressed when the financial crisis forced her to retrench valuable, long-time employees. Her son Bob took over operations in 2007.

“The financial crisis hit us especially hard,” Maria shares. “We had three large foreign customers declare bankruptcy on us within a two year period. This left us with very large unpaid accounts and furniture in-process. We went from shipping 25 containers a month to shipping three!”

Maria was asked to join the family business five years ago to help her mother. She now manages the company’s human resources, accounting and purchasing needs. As head of human resources, Maria loves getting to know and help her people.

“We have 300 families that depend on their companies on their livelihood. One year, we had a large number of orders requiring our people to work overtime a lot in order to ship on time. Unfortunately, this coincided with a really hot summer season,” Maria says.

“As I was driving to our plant one day, I noticed a huge pile of watermelons in the front yard of a neighbor’s house…I struck a deal to buy all the watermelons and distribute them to our people. The small gesture meant a lot to them during that hot month, as did the overtime pay they received for the extra work they did.”

At Mehitabel, working for the family business is a privilege—not a right. One must have a talent, skill, or ability that the business needs. To ensure the Mehitabel legacy survives, passion and commitment to the business is also essential.

Maria says: “Every family member that has been at the helm of our company has loved the furniture business, and has put the company first.” ∎





By Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. | February 10, 2017

2017 in a nutshell


SMOOTH STONE FINISHES (Jane Ussher) & ’70s DESIGN (Belinda Merrie/ NZ House & Garden)


SOFT PINK HUES (Jane Ussher) & GOING BOHEMIAN (Daniel Allen)

Greenery: Color of the Year


“Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize. Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”

Read more.

Attracting Luxury Consumers 2017 – 2020


To thrive in an ever-competitive environment, luxury brands should look to invest in three key areas:    

  • Collaborations with relevant partners
  • Secret and exclusive brand experiences        
  • Personalised online experiences e.g. notifications 

Read more: WGSN & Walpole

Click here to find out more about upcoming activities and events of the Cebu Furniture and Industries Foundation, Inc.


By Cielo Anne Calzado | March 04, 2016

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk in the clouds or maybe even sleep on it? They look so soft and fuzzy that you can’t help but daydream about such things that you only see in animated movies. Since we all look forward to a clean and comfy bedroom after a long day, you can use fluffy white clouds as pegs! By working with white furnishings, you can achieve the space that seem to welcome you with a warm embrace.

click here to know more


If most men are obsessed with their cars, most women are equally obsessed with their walk-in closets. This proves to be true for this couple. Paolo and Michelle Robles-de Castro created their so-called territories in their recently renovated home.

According to Michelle, her husband was assigned to build the house
while she was assigned to plan their wedding. She
told him that he can do whatever he wants for as long as she gets a nice big closet.

Her architect husband transformed their garage into his own man cave, where he tinkers with his collection of cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. Paolo then extended their master bedroom 
to grant hisfashionista wife’s request. A wall was broken down to connect the his-and-hers bathroom with the walk-in closet, resulting in a spacious sanctuary where Michelle spends most of her time in.

Bathroomclick here to know more

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