With the recently concluded Apec still high on people’s minds, an online auction of some very visible memorabilia is sure to get people talking. The items up for bid on Dec. 16 are six of the Yoda chairs by industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue used at the welcome dinner reception held at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The beneficiary is Unicef’s 1,000 Days campaign that aims to provide sufficient prenatal and after birth nutrition for babies from the moment of conception.
Unicef Special Advocate for Children Daphne Osena- Paez told reporters that this is not the first time she has worked with Cobonpue on a fundraising activity for Unicef. In 2011, he donated a Harry chair and the next year, a Chiquita stool. The first one looks like a hairy rocking stool while the second has a seat made of thin rattan-like rods. “In 2013, Kenneth donated a sculpture with wings for the Unicef auction,” she said.
Daphne said she approached other artists like Elmer Borlongan, Michael Cacnio and Daniel dela Cruz who also donated paintings and sculptures for the fundraising auction. All in all, they were able to raise P4.3 million for children’s programs.
They are hoping to raise a sizeable amount this year as the chairs cost P75,000 each. This newer iteration uses shorter rattan reeds and has armrests and a swivel mechanism.
They were used by US President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minsiter Shinzo Abe, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.
“Kenneth called me during Apec, asking if I wanted Obama’s Yoda chair for the Unicef auction. Of course, I said yes but I told him we needed more than one. He agreed and we decided on the six leaders. Now we’re hoping people will bid to get a chance to own one of the chairs,” Daphne said.
Although around 40 chairs were brought to the MOA Arena, Kenneth said he had 60 of the swiveling seats made.
“I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to sell all of them at the end of the event but we did. There was even one company that wanted to buy all 40 used at the Apec welcome dinner for their boardroom,” he said.
Kenneth shared that Obama liked the chair and even jokingly asked, “Is this a massage chair?”
Interested parties can bid at the live auction or through SMS after a pre-registration process outlined on www.unicef.ph. Winning bids will receive the Yoda chairs specially marked with a metal plaque bearing the name of the state leader, and a certificate of authenticity from Kenneth Cobonpue.
“We’re very thankful for Kenneth’s generosity,” said Lotta Sylwander, Unicef Philippines’ country representative. “This auction will go a long way in ensuring more children can benefit from this life-changing Unicef initiative.