Arts and Culture

MaARTe Fair 2016: Unique products capture stories of Filipino artisans

Alixandra Caole Vila - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines  In the age of modern technology, are handmade products really more valuable than products made through laser cutting and 3D printing? While incorporating technology with fashion is a sign of progress that we should all be proud of, there’s one thing you cannot get from a machine-made product - the soul of the craftsman who labored with love and passion.

For the past years, we have seen a rise in demand for unique, limited, handmade and artisan product. Indeed, we have come a long way from the time when people associate locally-made products with “mediocre quality.” As such, MaARTe Fair has transformed itself into a bustling visual tapestry of the Filipino heritage.

Organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines (MFPI), the most prominent craft fair in the country returns for the eighth season on August 26 to 28.

Through the years, the annual fundraiser event has been featuring “export” quality merchandise made by Filipino craftsmen. But more than esthetics and quality, the craftsmen behind the products use intricate techniques that were passed on by generations from different parts of the country, making the products truly one of a kind.

Each of them has a story to tell and an unequaled passion for their work, transforming each piece to an art that captures the soul of the maker.

MaARTe Fair provides an ideal venue for the artisan to show their products to a discerning market. The evolution of the product to meet today’s peripatetic lifestyle, and changes in taste makes the crafts fair more relevant now, more than ever.

The exhibitors

Same with last year, 70 selected retailers will join the event to bring unique offerings to customers who are looking for products that sometimes are only available to the overseas buyers or simply have no venue to present their work.

About 20 percent of the total number of participants are newcomers, one of them is Ken Samudio, a marine biologist by profession who later found his love for creating accessories. Samudio has been working under the tutelage of fashion icon Josie Natori. His works have been featured in Vogue Italia.

Ken Samudio accessories at the MaARTe Fair 2016 launch held at 8 Rockwell on July 21. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

Other brands featured in MaARTe’s lineup:


Enhancing craftsmanship, product development

According to Maritess Pineda, president of MFPI, who also co-chairs the MaArte committee, this year will focus on improving the craftsmanship of the artisans and enhancing product development.

To do this, Pineda said the exhibitors are encouraged to collaborate with each other. As she puts it, “The strength of one is the weakness of the other."

"We want to teach them to learn to collaborate so that they can support each other and they can help each other improve their products,” Pineda explained.

In addition, they are adding more product development coordinators. “The products may be good, but if it is not properly displayed, then it does not matter,” Pineda said.

Last year MaARTe Fair featured PJ Arañador for product development. Arañador is a Filipino international consultant for craft and decorative merchandise.

For this year, three more curators were added to help the artisans refine their concepts and design applications —  Eric Paras for home furnishing, Carlo Tanseco for home decor and Rhett Eala for couture.


New, bigger venue

For the last seven years, the MaARTe Fair had been held at the Rockwell tent but for this year, it will be held in a different venue.

"We are very sad about this because they tore down the Rockwell tent to make way for new mall, but we did not want to leave Rockwell. So they gave us the penthouse of 8 Rockwell which is bigger and is overlooking the whole Manila," Pineda said.

At 1,490 square meters, the venue will be much bigger than the Rockwell tent. More than that, the site also provides a panoramic view of the metropolitan city.

Because the size of the venue increased, food concessionaires can now be accommodated in the same venue where the dry goods are.

Pizza Morena at the MaARTe Fair 2016 launch held at 8 Rockwell on July 21. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

Green Babes at the MaARTe Fair 2016 launch held at 8 Rockwell on July 21. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

The evolution of MaARTe from its humble beginnings at the National Museum was funded by a grant for The Heritage Month Program headed by Mita Rufino. All proceeds of the fair will be donated to the National Museum.

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