Briones: Catering to locals

On the go

BUSINESS isn’t what it used to be. That much Jane Sayson, a designer at Cebu Homecraft, a furniture maker based in Mandaue City, admits. But things are looking up.

Data from Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., or Philexport, showed that a total of 3,878 containers came out of Cebu City’s international port in the first six months of 2019, down 19.38 percent from the 4,810 last year.

The exporters’ group also posted a total of 2,872 entries or export documents filed during this period, down from 3,321 last year.

So the figures don’t cover the export processing zones in Mactan, but these were enough to convince Fred Escalona, Philexport’s executive director, that Cebu’s export business is experiencing the same downtrend.

Still, Sayson believes the domestic market has plugged the hole made by the loss of international customers.

“We are now catering to local customers, not just export,” she told SunStar Cebu’s Carlo Lorenciano.

In the past, Cebu’s furniture products were snapped up by buyers in Europe, Japan, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

Since 1988, the Cebu International Furniture and Furnishings Exhibition or Cebu X has been held every year to showcase what Cebu has to offer to the world.

It seems that local manufacturers have always tried to please people outside the country. They like to show off our designers’ talents, their ingenuity and their creativity, perhaps hoping to get that much coveted international recognition.

And they’ve succeeded. Now, names like Kenneth Cobonpue and Vito Selma are known the world over. Or maybe not. But still, mention them and people automatically think of high-quality, innovative designs. Oh, and did I say expensive?

One Cobonpue wall lamp can set you back P11,000. And that’s discounted, mind you. Not exactly something your average Juan and Maria can purchase for their living room.

And that’s partly the problem of our local furniture manufacturers. They’ve always focused on and catered to the foreign market. So when that dried up, or when demand for our products dipped, they found themselves floundering. Those who survived were lucky. They were quick to adapt.

The recent boom in the hospitality industry nationwide, though, has offered them a lifeline.

According to Stephen Capadocia, sales executive at Coast Pacific, another furniture manufacturer based in Cebu, they’ve been supplying to various hotels around the country.

That’s how they’ve weathered the economic challenges.

Now, if they can only come up with something that the majority of Filipinos can afford.


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