Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:20 AM November 17, 2019
It was an afternoon of grateful recollection and heartwarming vision when foremost Filipino retailer Ben Chan was given the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’ Italia (Order of the Star of Italy) by the Italian government last Friday at the residence of the Italian ambassador.
In his remarks before the appointment, Italy Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino recalled how, two years ago, shortly after he arrived in Metro Manila to begin his stint and to prepare the refurbishing of the Italian ambassador’s residence, he came across the Dimensione store at Bonifacio Global City. He loved the Italian furniture and home accessories in the store, and he met Chan.
With Chan’s help, he was able to complete the refurbishing swiftly, and the ties forged between the Italian government and Chan and his firms. Chan is the chair and CEO of Suyen Corp., which owns the Filipino retail brand Bench. Bench is promoting #lovelocal even as it opens stores overseas and blends Filipino lifestyle in the global context. In the Suyen group are furniture and home stores showcasing Italian and other foreign brands, restaurant chains, beauty retail stores.
In accepting the honor, Chan recalled how his passion for design began when his family went into the manufacturing and retail of home accessories. This led to his venture in interior design, and Italy, with its trade fairs, he said, was where he honed his eye and taste for fine Italian furniture. “It was a learning experience for me,” he said.
The appointment of the Order of the Star of Italy was attended by select culture and lifestyle leaders, many of them friends and colleagues of Chan.
Lisa Periquet, one of the women behind Art Fair, told us how Ambassador Guglielmino has helped promote culture ties between Italy and the Philippines. He’s helping mount an exhibit of Italian contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum, and will bring an Italian gallery to the Art Fair in February.—THELMA S. SAN JUAN