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Kenneth Cobonpue to design stalls for Cebu City street vendors

Text by Angela Casco
Illustration by Roc Verdera

Street stalls, often made out of light materials such as scrap wood and metal, can be destroyed just as quickly as it
took to make them. Apart from being cramped, these spaces are vulnerable to harsh weather conditions, too, which makes it even more challenging for vendors to make a living.

In Cebu City, however, street vendors are getting an upgrade like no other, as world-renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue himself is designing stalls for them.

KENNETH COBONPUE ILLUST-1

Displaced from Colon Street and OsmeƱa Boulevard and set to be relocated to a new area in F. Gonzales St. called Tabo sa Banay—a move in compliance with the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) directive to clear streets—over 200 sidewalk vendors are in need of new stalls that are not only sturdy and practical, but also presentable.

“It was clear that they were left to their own devices to make their own stalls, which are very haphazard,” Cobonpue tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Mayor Edgardo Labella asked me to help design new stalls.”

Since the area where vendors will be transferred to is quite crowded and saturated with other establishments, the designer believes the stalls need to stand out.

Born and raised in Cebu City, Cobonpue is known for his unique designs, where he integrates natural materials through innovative handmade production processes.

While it’s likely for him to apply this signature style and technique to the stalls, he is unable to share more design
details as they’re still in the planning stage for the other vendors over at Tabo-an Public Market, which is just two minutes away from Colon Street. He describes it as a bigger project than Tabo sa Banay.

“[It’s] as soon as possible,” he says of the deadline.

In the meantime, Cobonpue and the displaced vendors are gearing up for a temporary night market in Colon Street that will accommodate the shopping rush this holiday season.

“For the stalls of the upcoming Christmas night market, I want to make something portable,” he says. “[I want it to be] something that vendors can use for storage in the morning and then can be converted into a suitable display and selling stall in the evening. We also want to incorporate proper lighting, as well as create something sustainable and easy to build.”

For functionality’s sake, Cobonpue says he’s opting to use tarpaulin for the night market stalls. “It’s lightweight, waterproof, and cost-efficient,” he says.

For the look, he wants it to be reflective of Cebu, specifically with its festive vibe.

“We want the night market to be merry and inviting,” he says. “Ideally, the roof will resemble old native Filipino houses with a contemporary twist. It will capture the fun revelry Cebu is known for and what tourists come here for.”

Cobonpue admits that coming up with stalls with such features is “quite a challenge due to space and budget.”

A resounding goal, however, is what pushes the designer, who has offered his services for free, to keep working on redesigning the stalls.

“I just want to help,” he says, adding that though it is not part of his responsibility to be involved in the stalls’ construction, he will make himself available for consultation.

See more at: Manila Bulletin

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