Abreeza + MTE, from Mindanao to the world

From Mindanao to the world. There is more to Mindanao than the traditional tribal handicrafts. 

WHEN artist Ann Pamintuan was commissioned by the Ayala Malls to create a sculptural art piece best representing Davao for Abreeza, the first premier mall in the city, she fashioned a triple pyramid out of metal inspired by the country’s tallest peak, the Mt. Apo, a Davao landmark. This assignment didn’t only pave the way for this acclaimed artist to showcase her artistry but also find a home for her other passion -- the Mindanao Trade Expo, where she presides as the president of the foundation.

Abreeza Mall's triple metal pyramid by Pamintuan represents the country;s highest peak, the Mt. Apo, found in Davao.

Since 1995, the Mindanao Trade Expo has been the forerunner in the exposure of the best crafts the Mindanao artisans have produced. From Zamboanga to Cotabato, Davao to Surigao, the most successful of the handmade wonders have landed the pages of international glossies, the homes of celebrities and won accolades from the most respected award-giving bodies in the world of design.

Ann Pamintuan's award-winning Cocoon Chair

This is why MTE President, Ann Pamintuan, the Davao-based pioneering member of the Movement 8 design alliance and the only Asian woman designer to be included in the prestigious International Design Yearbook, is impassioned with the idea that, like her, the rest of the Mindanao designers and manufacturers, with solid mentoring and continuous product development, can also break through the national and international market.

Artist, sculptor, furniture & jewelry designer Ann Pamintuan is  Mindanao Trade Expo Foundation's current president.

The MTE exhibit transpires during the Kadayawan Festival season. Its first show was held at the Central Bank Convention Center and the address became its prestigious home for years, until the venue had to be renovated.

In the past two years, Abreeza Mall played host to this highly regarded exhibition. “Abreeza is a venue that can equate with Central Bank in terms of prestige,” stated Pamintuan, and added, “it’s the perfect venue to showcase the products of the participants to the market Abreeza caters to. I am glad that MTE has found a partner in Abreeza who shares the same vision for Mindanao.”

The 18th Mindanao Trade Expo at the Abreeza Mall. An increase of exhibitors from last year’s show, the Mindanao artisans proudly showcased their latest, impressive designs to the Abreeza Mall market.

Echoing the MTE’s perspective in her welcome note, Ms. Rowena Tomeldan, Ayala Land’s Vice-President and Head for Operations and Support Services for Commercial Business Group, said, “We are indeed happy to see the thriving export industries of Mindanao in this trade expo. The products that you have are truly something that every Filipino can be proud of. This expo is definitely a good venue to proudly showcase the region’s finest. We, at Ayala Malls are in full support as we inspire producers and manufacturers to continue to create products that are truly world class.”

The central display showing the process of creating world-class products from raw materials endemic to Mindanao to the finished, products.

The turnout for the 18th exposition of the MTE was impressive. According to Pamintuan, Abreeza Mall allowed for a longer exhibit time, there was an increase in participants from last year and the quality of the products have improved a lot, and these equated to good retail receipts. “For a lot of the exhibitors, the cash register was already ringing even at set-up time. This was very encouraging for them,” she mentioned.

Handwoven t'nalak throw pillow case with Corn Leaf motif detail in coco beads from TADECO Livelihood. 

For all the participants, what transpired in the 18th Mindanao Trade Expo was truly inspiring. It was a boost to everyone’s morale knowing that the products they created have gained the acceptance of the market that frequents the Abreeza Mall. “The exposure to the Abreeza Mall patrons, who are predominantly upper bracket consumers, helped a great deal. The exhibitors are more confident that they can now reach a wider scope of buyer profile,” shared Pamintuan. This will encourage the members of the foundation to work harder, be more creative and improve the quality of their products to eventually be able to compete in the bigger field -- the global market.

Crystal Sea's t'nalak minaudier with Orchid motif detail.

“I am looking to Abreeza as the institutional partner in this region, of having a permanent venue for Mindanao products,” mused the MTE president. If this happens, this will be the best thing that can happen to the Mindanao Trade Expo Foundation. To this dream of Pamintuan, Abreeza and the Ayala Malls might just give the nod.

A one-seater from Pamintuan's Oxygen Collection.