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FLARE 2018 Awardees Ann Ong And Kenneth Cobonpue On Their Dreams For The Philippine Design Industry

In building a nation, technology and creativity come together in order to foster the country’s growth. This concept is no stranger to the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), an organization that recognizes the contributions of the country’s main players in the IT industry through the FLARE Awards, in an effort to recognize those who have made excellent contributions to the IT industry as well as push the Philippines as a main player in the IT global stage.


IBPAP Vice Chairperson and Chair of the Flare Awards Cathy Salceda-Ileto


Asia's Songbird Regine Velasquez-Alcasid performed at the event


The 2018 FLARE Awards not only honored contributions in the realm of technology, it also recognized talent in the creative fields of furniture and jewelry design. With this year’s theme of “Global Filipinos Powering Global Industries,” the FLARE Awards gave a nod to the fact that the IT and design industries run parallel in embodying Filpino excellence. With nominations based on past achievements, the common denominators among its award recipients are passion, love of country, and desire to help the country and industry so that it moves to the next frontier.

“I believe that the art and IT-BPM industries embody Filipino excellence, being both exceptional and internationally recognized… Our country brand Innovative Human + Tech highlights how the creativity of the global Filipino is invaluable to the global industry, especially amid emerging technologies,” says IBPAP Vice Chairperson and Chair of the Flare Awards Cathy Salceda-Ileto.

Kenneth Cobonpue, regarded as “rattan’s first virtuoso,” was recognized by the FLARE Awards for his contributions to the furniture industry. Similarly, jewelry designer Ann Ong was also honored.

A busy future with bright hopes for the local design industry was shared by both designers, exclusively for Metro.Style:


Ann Ong, Cathy Salceda-Ileto, and Kenneth Cobonpue


What's next for you after the FLARE Awards? What are your current and upcoming projects?

Ann Ong (AO): After FLARE, I am going to New York this February. I have two shows: "New York Now" from February 4 to 7 and another show, "Curate," in New York on February 22 to 25. "Curate" gathers selected designers from all over the world with only 40 designers chosen to showcase. [I am also] designing for an American brand, Ann Ong for Koket. I am preparing jewelry and Objet D’ Art home accents for the Paris show this February for Maison&Objet.

Kenneth Cobonpue (KC): There’s a possibility of another collaboration with Disney. Among a few other space design projects, we’re also working on Reef, a boutique hotel-condo in Mactan Island in Cebu.


What is your dream for the Philippine design industry?

AO: My dream for the Philippine design industry is that [everyone in the] world would be proud to own something made in the Philippines.

KC: For more aspiring designers to pursue their craft with passion and zeal so that they can help the Philippine design industry to grow and flourish into the international community.   


Who among the new or up-and-coming designers in your industry are you rooting for?

AO: For now, so many young and upcoming designers are good. But I don’t know who will excel in the global market. For my industry, you have to find your niche market where your design aesthetic can be accepted, and you have to always evolve and improve your designs to cope with the global market. You can only be called a designer once the global arena starts to buy your products. You have to sustain the DNA of your brand to cope with the international market.

KC: They’re not exactly new, but I’m rooting for Jude Tiotuico for his masterful way of marrying metal and raw wood, and Stanley Ruiz for his clean, streamlined designs that have an edge, resulting most likely from his punk rock background.


See the products that were showcased at the FLARE Awards 2018:




Photographs by Pat Buenaobra