Asia on the Edge
30 June 2011
A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a conference titled Asia on the Edge in Singapore.
When I first got the invitation, I wasn’t really very sure if I wanted to attend since I was not sure what to expect, but my good friend Janina Dizon-Hosckha called me and asked if I was free June 24-26 and I knew she was referring to the Singapore event. So when she told me that she was going I decided to count myself in.
A few days before my departure, I still wasn’t sure what to expect. Blame it on the fact that I was very busy and really didn’t have time to check their website or get any info. I took the early flight and arrived in Singapore around 10 am. The hotel partner was The Pan Pacific at Raffles, which has a stunning atrium. Since it was still too early to check-in, it gave us the window to do some shopping since it’s the Singapore Sale. First was a quick lunch at Suntec and then Janina made a call and in 30 minutes, me and Ginny were inside a limousine to bring us to Duty Free in Orchard. We ended up shopping. I bought a nice purplish leather shoes from Hugo Boss, which used up my shopping budget for the entire trip! We got back to the hotel past 6 in the evening and I unpacked and pressed my shirts for the next few days. I was in bed before 12 midnight.
The call time the next morning was at 8 am. The night before, Janina asked me what I planned to wear and, in my mind, it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. So I end up wearing a suit. Next day, I saw Marco Santos (part of organizer of the event and the guy who invited me) in a white shirt and saw others in very casual attire so I was just hoping that the venue, The Art House, would at least be freezing cold, or else my armpits will be soaking wet. When I finally got inside the bus, I saw a few guys wearing suits as well so I started feeling comfortable. I sat next to a lady I didn’t know so I introduced myself. Her name was Rina Malonzo and she’s rather familiar with KISH. The “right brain” of a brand consultancy company called Tink Tank. She gave me her calling card and, believe me, it was a big calling card. So I gave her mine, which is not even a fourth of the size of her card. She said, “Oh yours is small,” to which I replied, “I guess any card in between ours will be irrelevant and it shows how creative we are!” We both laugh. At the back of my mind, I thought, this creative conference will be fun.
Big and small
When we got to The Art House, we did the usual registration and then off to the second level for breakfast. Unfortunately, there were only five small round tables to accommodate more than 70 hungry participants! But then, creative people can adjust. The next thing I know, Mich Dulce enters with her ribbon hat and big red bag with matching red shoes. She was three feet away from me and directly looking at me, so I approached her and introduced myself and her loud reply to me was, “I know you!!! We’re both friends of Tina Perez from New York!!!” Again, at the back of my mind, further confirmation that this conference will be fun.
Breakfast with Leslie Bituin, Janina Dizon and Mich Dulce (Photo by Ginny Dizon)
Mich Dulce introduced me to Clara Balaguer and when I said my name, she replied, “Oh, you’re the KISH guy. I get your newsletter with those sexy naked models!” She’s, of course, referring to the KISH X (10th year) Anniversary Campaign. She continued on and told me that the naked guys (half naked, mind you) are not necessary since the products are beautiful in itself. Then she paused and asked me if I get offended since it’s not easy to take criticism upfront, even if constructive; to which I made sure it was okay and that I appreciated the gesture. She told me we should meet up back in Manila and maybe do something creative. She was talking very fast and with such gusto that she spilled her coffee all over. That was just the first hour of the day. This conference will be fun.
The venue was The Art House, which has been occupying the almost 200 year-old building that was Singapore’s first Parliament House since its opening in 2004. The Art House has been offering its visitors a broad spectrum of lifestyle options, while at the same time playing an active role in the Singapore creative scene. The opening was at the main chamber and Dr. Richard Helfer gave the keynote address. He has extensive experience in all aspects of the hotel and hospitality business, from hands-on management to the successful building of a global luxury brand and international hotel/resort management company. He said it was Asia’s time and I totally believe him.
The Art House
After a short coffee break, it was a creative forum by Fredrik Haren author of The Idea Book. His forum was very good and he proved what I’ve always believed – that there are no original ideas. Everything is a copy or modification of something that exists. This was followed by a discussion with Mr. Dilip Mukerjea about IdeAsians on the Edge. Late afternoon was devoted to the all Filipino talk about Inspiration to Innovation by Manet Dayrit of Roadrunner, Kenneth Cobonpue and Jay Aldegeur of Islands group. The presentation of Jay was very interesting because he really gave us insights on how he developed his products considering he isn’t really a creative guy.
Jay Aldeguer of Islands Group
In between coffee breaks, I met interesting people, like Karla Cruz of Borders. I was very distracted with her clear skin and long eyelashes but she was all fired up talking to me, taking special note of her Cebuano kababata, Vito Selma.
As the day closed, we headed back to the hotel where Mich Dulce introduced me to a young-looking guy, Leeroy New, an exciting, up-and-coming visual artist whose work I’ve seen before. I got the chance to talk to Leeroy to explore the possibility of carrying some of his pieces at KISH.
Mich and Leeroy (Photo by Girlie Rodis)
On its first day, the conference was not just fun but enlightening.
The second day was not as busy as the first. It started with the Brains for Breakfast session, which took the whole morning time slot. I was seated in between Janina and Rajo Laurel, two very competitive creative talents. They were so competitive during the discussion that I felt like I was watching Wimbledon, turning my head back and forth to listen to them. I was all fired up.
Me and Janina before Rajo joined us
Over lunch, I ended up sitting next to Kenneth Cobonpue together with Rajo, Janina and Mich in the same room that used to be the office of Lee Kuan Yew. What transpired was a very engaging discussion all about creative ideas. I got so fired up that I went to sleep that night thinking what can be done.
The rest of the day was a tour of some creative spaces in Singapore. During the tour, I realized how the Government of Singapore is giving creativity a platform for talents to incubate and show what they can create.
Little Arts Academy
*This year’s theme is “Generating Ideas. Regenerating Communities.” The aim is to gather the best and brightest across Asia together in an open platform to share experiences, discuss issues and network in order to build bridges across the region and collectively address opportunities to grow (or re-grow) the Creative Economy as well as the communities and programs they support.
Our role is not only to represent the Philippine Delegation but to showcase that they are just as much enterprising as they are artistic which is what distinguishes them from their peers. Our goal is to drive awareness of these people and businesses across Asia to begin forging new relationships and stimulating new opportunities both locally and abroad to further widen their reach and support their activities.*
ICE partnered with ACES (http://www.spaces.org.sg) and TOPH (http://www.toph.com.sg), the organizers of Asia On The Edge 2011 (ICE Group is a regional Venture Management and Investment group focused on generating business opportunities for the Creative Community. ICE enables and supports the development and growth of Ideas, People and Businesses into Projects, Resources and Networks for the Creative Economy).
Countries represented in Asia on the Edge were Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. There were over 180 participants.
Jay, Manet, Jana, Mel, PJ, Karla, Joshua of Surface Asia, Joey, me, Clara and Mich after the BBQ party
Most delegates at the Goodman Arts Center
I am back in Manila and I am still all fired up because of the conference. It was an experience for me to be able to interact with so many creative minds. I know I have to do something. Thank you, Marco Santos and Mel Songco for inviting me.
Having fun is not enough. An action is needed.