It was a beautiful afternoon today.

Decided to go for a quick walk to Notre Dame to light a candle for my mom who underwent an eye operation today. Still waiting to hear news though. Hopefully, all will be well.

 photo 20160714_145224_zps7uxihuvg.jpgMy favorite street, Book Street

 photo 20160714_145602_zps4iafbi81.jpgMovie Posters on a discount!

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 photo 20160714_151355_zpskvxg2vsv.jpgIced tea in a plastic bag

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 photo 20160714_151606_001_zpsumlvnwck.jpgCyclo waiting for the tourists inside the church

 photo 20160714_151744_zpsqdiyrdlz.jpgWould have been nice to have coffee and chill for the rest of the afternoon

Good afternoon, Saigon!

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UberMoto to the rescue

So after 6 years, we decided to say goodbye to our 2 bedroom apartment. Needless to say, it was an ominous task. But it was a good exercise too to finally wade through 6 years of accumulated stuff and declutter.

We had so much toys and books and I knew we had to let go a lot of those. So last week, I started selling some of my books. I probably had around 30 books for sale. I ended up having these last pile to let go of:

 photo 20160705_192437_zpsiceskvlw.jpg(Update: Where’s Wally, Morning Rush, Elidor and Chronicle of a Death Foretold were sold today.)

Mostly those interested would show up at home or in my office building  for meet-ups. But there was one who couldn’t make it. So I booked UberMoto.

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So efficient!

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Incidentally, I have coloring books to sell. You remember when I went gaga over coloring books? Well yeah, I bought too much. So please, if you’re interested, drop me a line. I can’t color them all!

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Artbook Movie Posters

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Every time I pass by TRI Books along Dong Khoi, I am fascinated by the art work done on movie posters. I have been thinking of buying but I really don’t have the space for it at home. But, I thought it would be nice to keep ’em until we find our forever home.

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I just love The Big Bang Theory and so when I saw this, I just knew I had to get it. These posters are designed by Artbook and are also sold online.

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Then I saw Fight Club and I knew my brother would love a copy. He’s an Edward Norton fan.

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It came in 3 designs.

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My bro ended up deciding on this one above. I headed to the post office as soon as I purchased it to send to Kenya.

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The anh at the post office promised he’d pack it well so it won’t get folded. It should get to him in 2 weeks.

Of course there are other movie posters available from classics like Gone With The Wind, Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Disney movies, and LOTR. Reaaaaaally terrific artwork. I brought my friend here and she had a difficult time narrowing down choices.

TRI Books
158 Dong Khoi St., District 1
Ho Chi Minh City

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Di Bay Muon

Over the weekend, a friend visited and was wracking my brain for a good pasalubong or “gift” that represents Vietnam. I got her a couple of pillow covers with Vietnamese designs that can be easily brought home and a couple of 250g bags of cashew nuts with Kaffir Lime leaves.

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It tastes wonderful! It’s crunchy, sweet, and spicy. ;) Discovered this while a colleague wast munching on this in the office.

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To order, just send them a message through their Di Bay Muon Facebook page or send them a message at +84 979637958. As with most transactions in Saigon, you can order and pay cash upon delivery. Easy peasy.

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Kenneth Cobonpue: A Brand On Its Own

In my former life, I used to write for a magazine. One time, I had the opportunity to interview world-renowned furniture maker, Kenneth Cobonpue but the article didn’t see the light of day. That was in 2007.

Thought it would be nice to reminisce and post that article here. All photos were taken by my photographer-friend, Ging Lorenzo.

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Who would have thought that at the heart of Cebu City’s busiest districts, Kenneth Cobonpue’s genius is showcased in a non-descript location?  His masterpieces, carefully housed in Interior Crafts of the Islands showroom, can elegantly bring character and life to homes, hotels, bars and gardens anywhere in the world.

What is notable of his pieces is that they are not just some eye candy.  Yes, they can be lovely to look at but all are wonderfully crafted for comfort and style.  You can just have his work in a room and nothing else, and still make a statement.

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Preparing the Blueprint for His Future

Like any good first son, Kenneth prepared to eventually handle the furniture and design manufacturing business of his mother, Betty Cobonpue, Interior Crafts of the Islands, founded in 1972.  His mother is famous for her modern and nouveau techniques working with rattan.  From 1987 to 1995, Kenneth devoted his time to learn about the rudiments of the business.  He finished his degree in Industrial Design at Pratt Institute in New York and apprenticed for a leather and wood workshop near Florence, Italy.  He also received a private and state scholarship allowing him to enter in the Furniture Marketing and Production program at the Export Akademie Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany.  Further reinforcing his mastery on the field he loved, he worked in Bielefeld and Munich.

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Veering from the Traditional

In 1996, he returned home to Cebu to manage Interior Crafts of the Islands some 300 workers and continue the work his mother paved for him.  The export business was steady but the sales were not exceptional.  His restless spirit moved him to experiment on new ways on the treatment of raw materials to produce unique products.  And so in 1998, the Kenneth Cobonpue brand was born, anchored in the success of Kenneth’s Yin & Yang easy arm chair made from dyed rattan splits wrapped over bent steel.  Almost on its 10th year, the Yin & Yang continues to be one of his bestsellers.  Although some of their original clients found the pieces too forward, opting for traditional designs, this did not stop Kenneth from pushing for his style.  He eventually attracted a totally different market and in a few years, his name caught on.

Kenneth applies the conceptual approach in the creation of his designs.  He is not afraid to experiment with different materials such as buri, rattan, nylon, plastic, bamboo, fabrics, steel and sea grass.  His indoor products have outdoor equivalents made from water-resistant and resilient materials.

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Market Positioning and Targeting

Kenneth admits that his market was not something he targeted in the beginning.  His products somehow dictated and attracted the high-end market with the distinctive quality and innovative treatment of materials of his products.  In order to ensure his place in the industry though, he found partners in the US and Europe and joined trade shows here in the country and abroad.  He is also part of Movement 8, a design alliance founded by the renowned Budji Layug and government trade official Eli Ointo-Mansor in 1999, which aims to bring together the country’s prestigious designers and promote the use of indigenous materials.  Movement 8 does exhibitions yearly showcasing the Filipino ingenuity and craftsmanship.

In going global, his conduct of business to all his market is the same.  However, in order to maintain his preferred clientele, he had to say no to others.  Big department stores have shown interest in his products but he had to turn them down.  He explains, “We’re selling a brand.  We have a story to tell which is a lifestyle.  Everything goes around it.  We come up with a catalogue.  Everything we do should be an extension of that lifestyle.”  Sometimes, “they’re just not the right person(s) to carry the brand and it is okay to say no.  They will understand.”

He does not let the market dictate the outcome of his products.  He has great faith in the Filipino talent saying, “In the Philippines, design is the last competitive advantage.  Design is the only place we can still compete.”  When asked on how he comes up with his creations, he confidently says, “This is my design.  If I like it, then someone in the world must also like it.”

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Earning a Place in the World

And the world did and does agree with Kenneth’s taste. His masterpieces earned him 12 Mugna and 4 Katha Awards for design excellence at the annual Philippine International Furniture Exhibition, a seven-time winner of Japan Good design Award, Design for Asia Award in Hongkong (2005), Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines in the field of Arts and Design (2003), and the Golden Shell Award for embodying the ideals of Asian design (2002) awarded by the President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  He is also among the featured designers for the International Design Yearbook 2002, 2004 and 2005 and numerous publications locally and abroad.

His creations have successfully permeated the Asian, American and European arena and grace the homes of celebrities, restaurants, hotels and even the recent movie, Ocean’s 13.  The casino set in Ocean’s 13 included Kenneth’s Lulu Club Chair and Kawayan Bar Stool.   Brad Pitt also owns a Croissant Sofa, Voyage Bed and Dragnet Lounge Chairs.  His originals are included in Budji Living showroom in Bel-Air II Makati and various showrooms worldwide.

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Crafting the Future

Much still lies ahead for Kenneth.  As the Creative Director and CEO of the Kenneth Cobonpue brand, he would like to continue crafting and inventing the application of the same techniques and materials to other trades, such as architecture and transportation (cars and bicycles).  Eventually he also plans to establish his own showrooms locally and globally and to firmly make Kenneth Cobonpue stand for the style which depicts as a fusion of craft, natural materials, and technology and truly handmade.

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Viet Thuong

Years ago, we bought an electric piano from Do Re Mi Shop ( somewhere in Ly Tu Trong St. Then they closed and moved elsewhere.

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It was only last weekend that while looking for a guitar for my son that I found out that Viet Thuong in Crescent Mall is actually Do Re Mi’s shop.

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Since my electric piano’s adapter was busted, I decided to have it checked out at Viet Thuong in Crescent Mall but they said they don’t have any replacement. I even asked where I could possibly get a replacement but they said they didn’t know.

And then we called up the number on Viet Thuong’s website and they said we can get one in their shop in Nguyen Trai. This is really perplexing when the shop in Crescent and the shop in Nguyen Trai is one and the same. Sigh.

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So anyway, finally found the replacement adapter and came out with a couple of egg shakers and maracas.😛

Viet Thuong (Do Re Mi Shop)
150/47 AB Nguyen Trai St. District 1

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Himalayan Salt Lamp

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One of my groups was discussing about Himalayan Salt Lamps. Sure, I’ve hear about ’em. But do they work? Wasn’t quite too sure. And not sure about the pricing in Vietnam as well. With “Himalayan” attached to the product, it sounds expensive.

Then a friend sent me this link:

I read more about it and these salt lamps claim to:

  • Purify and freshen the air
  • Absorb moisture
  • Reduce insomnia
  • Reduce tension
  • Stimulate the brain
  • Prevent asthma
  • Helps the immune system
  • Reduce allergies

It had me at allergies.

So I ordered this morning and got one delivered today. It helps to have a Vietnamese connection.

Hopefully, this helps in my allergies. Keeping my fingers crossed.

You can order by sending a message or calling Cam Anh at +84903939293.



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