‘Kalibutan’ trade fair highlights creativity of MSMEs, designers

THE Department of Trade and Industry in Central Visayas (DTI 7), in partnership with DTI-Design Center of the Philippines (DCP), has launched the One Town One Product (Otop) Regional Trade Fair featuring the Kalibutan Project on Friday, June 24, 2022.The fair, which runs until June 26 at The Gallery of Ayala Center Cebu, features locally-made products such as the “Bambike,” a bicycle unit fitted with bamboo frame and bags made of woven rattan; “Balang-balang,” a resizable cup or beverage holder made of natural wood; tropical island and cloth bags made of silk with scenery of the Negros Island as design; and Coco Coin Bank, coco shells with coin slot carved in animal form.DTI 7 Director Maria Elena Arbon said The Kalibutan project is a design community initiative where micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) tapped the services of local designers in the region to make new, creative, and quality products.The Kalibutan project is also a product development initiative of DTI and DCP to shape up the competitiveness and innovation of MSMEs and local designers in the region.“The project is born out of Covid, the objective is to develop our own pool of designers because in a very competitive world, we need to respond to new products and new ways of doing things, new business models and the only way to do that is for us to build the capability to be agile,” Arbon said during a press conference.Arbon added that local designers were trained in product designing and prototyping activities with the participation of selected MSMEs.The goal of the trade exhibit is to introduce to the MSMEs the creative perspective of designing and making a product, incorporating to them the mindset of exporting standards, and providing marketing opportunities to showcase and sell their products.It also aims to intensify the preference of the public to buy locally-made products with high quality and make it a permanent part of their purchasing habit.“What we are showcasing is we are showing value that the products of our MSMEs have value in terms of design, in terms of pricing, in term of functional use. If we support them, we all know the multiplier effect of that in helping the economy grow,” Arbon said.For her part, Divina Palao, creative director of the project, said the word “Kalibutan” means one’s awareness of his or her surrounding where it becomes the guiding principle of how designers should create products.The project follows six design components for the designers to base their product namely cultural reference, sustainability, personas, DIY-component, MSMEs capability, and creative direction.Palao said the launching of the project halted due to the devastation of Typhoon Odette, as many of the participating MSMEs have only recovered last May 2022.“It is a dream of the team that this young designer that we are mentoring right now would be able to mentor also other designers,” Palao said.At least 38 MSMEs were enrolled in the project: 12 from Cebu, 10 from Bohol and Negros Oriental, and 3 from Siquijor.