I have my personal list of 1,000 places I'd like to visit before I die. Tops on my list are Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, and countries with significant religious history. I did not plan on going to Macau, but I was influenced by the excitement of Gigie Penalosa and her daughters Iya Prado with bro-in law JP Prado and Carmina about attending the trade shows featuring products from Asia, mostly China and Hongkong. For me, Macau is simply a stopover destination.
And so we went to the huge Venetian Resort Hotel to view the exhibit of Asian craftsmanship and creativity. There were actually two major trade shows ongoing at the same time: 12th Macao International Trade & Investment Fair (MIF) and Mega Macao 2007.
Mega Macao showcased toys and games, gift items, household wares, consumer electronics, advertising and promotional premiums, home textiles, fashion, garments, accessories and lifestyle products. You need more than three days to go around, eye each product closely and talk to the manufacturer to explore possible initial business cooperation.
The toys alone ranged from baby items, baby toys, balls, battery-operated, die-cast metal, educational, electronic, inflatable toys and games, electronic, gaming items, Halloween and carnival items, hobby pieces, plastic toys, pre-school toys, radio-controlled toys, sporting goods, stuffed or plush toys and dolls, toy parts and accessories and travel games. Wow, I did not realize there are that many different varieties of toys and games for all ages.
A buoyant and expectant mood permeated the two shows. Buyers and traders exchanged business cards and promises of future mutual support. Actually the shows were open to traders and buyers only. I was delighted to see a whole row of Filipino manufacturers exhibiting what are distinctly Filipino products made from indigenous materials. They make you proud to be a Filipino. They came from Antipolo, Alabang, Cebu and Iloilo. There were also beautiful local products from Thailand, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and other Asian countries. The products from China are generally common products you see every where you go in the world particularly in Divisoria and Walmart.
At Mega Macao, most products were there for display only but if you insist they sell you one or two pieces. You can order by bulk. It is astonishing to know how cheap the products are from China if you buy them wholesale direct from the factory. They are so cheap and retailers here are making a killing buying from China wholesale and selling those products by piece. They could be marked up a thousandfold. For example, I just bought this headlamp that miners and mountain climbers use (5 LED bulbs) for Php160 from my suki in Divisoria Mall. They retail for at least Php250 in Greenhills. At Mega Macao, they retail for Php20 and the maker told me that if I get them by the hundreds or thousands, I could easily get them for an embarrasingly low price. Whoa Nelly! I will go back to my suki and demand a rebate. Hahahahaha
The MIF by and large offer international trade and investment cooperation opportunities. The exhibitors didn't just sell their products, they looked for business partners. There were seminars on investing in China, Angola, Macao, India, Poland and others. There were also technical seminars on ethanol, methanol, casino security, photography and others. There were vendors of real estate properties all over the world. My favorite were the wine and olive oil tasting from Portugal, Chile, Australia and others. By the time I got out of the Exhibition Hall for lunch, I was merrily prepped for another round of wine tasting at the Venetian Italian Festival. Thank goodness for flat shoes that made walking tipsy a lot easier.
Next column, I shall share with you what I learned from the Forum on Critical Issues in Sourcing from China: Product Safety & Quality. The side stories of the speaker are more intriguing!
My best memory of Macau is eating, by the sidewalk, Shabu-shabu bought from a carinderia in a hole in the wall at San Malo. Yummy! Their number one local delicacy is almond cake laced with sesame seeds or pork fat. It is actually prettily packaged uraro.