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Arts & Culture

All The Breathtaking Design Details At The ASEAN Summit

In photos: Pinoy design and Asian elements took center stage, from the arrival area to the closing ceremonies

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Photography: courtesy of Eric Cruz and Ito Kish

With the recently concluded 31st ASEAN Summit held last November 12 to 14, we are still on a high from Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s Jollibee merienda, US President Donald Trump’s barong Tagalog moment, and the statements of some leaders about human rights in the country. But there was another thing we couldn’t forget about the ASEAN Summit, and it was the venues’ impressive set and stage designs. Here are the design details, from beginning to end:

Arrival Area at Clark Airport



ASEAN and world leaders started arriving at the Clark International Airport in Mabalacat, Pampanga on Sunday, November 12, but they did not land on a naked tarmac. Eric Cruz, head of the Production Design and Technical Services Department of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) led the design and setup of the arrival area and the Dignitaries Lounge in Clark.


“My main concept for the arrival area was to feature products of Region 3, specifically Pampanga and Bulacan,” Cruz explains.


The Bulacan elements included the singakaban (intricate shaved bamboo) arches, and lightboxes (above) with cutout details that resembled the province’s traditional borlas de pastillas sweet wrappers.


“[To represent] Pampanga, I used parol from San Fernando to decorate the arches,” Cruz continues. The Singkaban was also decorated with colorful parol tails as whimsical buntings.

The Gala Dinner


Visual storyteller Ito Kish took over the designs of the Gala Dinner at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City later that evening. Kish created a 118sqm “gazebo” furnished with modern-Filipino furniture and plants as a holding room for the leaders before they met President Rodrigo Duterte.


The dramatic focal point of the welcoming area was a lush garden that Kish created, where the leaders would walk through before posing for a “family picture” at a backdrop studded with 119 parols. “The images made here represented everyone working together, building a bright tomorrow,” reads Kish’s caption of the photo on Instagram.

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Gino Gonzales created the main stage, with thousands of illuminated paper discs by Masaeco Paper's Wataru Sakuma floating above it.

READ: A Garden Grows At The ASEAN Gala Dinner

Cultural Center of the Philippines


The official opening ceremonies were held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila the next morning, November 13. Mio Infante decorated the front lawn of the CCP with colorful flags and kite-like forms.

Closing Ceremonies


Cruz also conceptualized and set ups for the closing ceremonies at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City on November 14. “It was one of the biggest stages I’ve done…it covered almost the entire floor area!” Cruz says his concept for the set was creating an “archipelago.”



In the middle of the stage—serving as a backdrop for the performers—was a giant arch, which changes colors. Cruz says it represented a curved bridge, which showed the landmarks of the ASEAN region. “It is a symbol of lighting the future, and with the kites, they are a symbol of flight, [which is a] symbol of progress.” Ian Wong did the projections on the arches.


According to Cruz, “One of the biggest challenges was the weather, especially on Thursday at Clark when there was a typhoon and we had to finish the setup.” The sun thankfully came out the next day and until the end of the ASEAN Summit. We couldn’t help but give a round of applause for these amazing Filipino designers who pulled off such a huge and impressive feat!

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