AsiaStore Blog - Buying Trip

Al Valenciano for Balay ni Atong

Balay-ni-AtongA20150813_092518_resized craft, a business and a social enterprise, artist Al Valenciano has intertwined these endeavors in his “inabel” projects enabling 65 men and women support their families from weaving the textiles that have been produced in the Ilocos region since the 16th century.  ‘Biag ni Lam-ang’ has many references to inabel. It was traded as clothes, blanket and sails for boats… An accomplished lady then was someone who wove inabel. The inabel is part of life of the Ilocanos,” says Al.

The artisans weave the textiles right in their homes, using old wooden looms, with production limited to only 200 pieces each year. Fine textiles with beautiful designs in lively organic dye colors…check out a few of our selections.



Carabao Horn

hornCarabao is the native Filipino word meaning water buffalo.  Carabao are incredible animals that are used for work and farming tasks in South East Asian.  They plow fields, carry and move heavy objects and they are even used for transportation. Carabaos are widely distributed in all the larger islands of the Philippine archipelago. Carabao Horn accessories are created from water buffalo that are not slaughtered for their horns.  As the horns of the water buffalo grow, they may cause the animal discomfort.  The horns are simply trimmed and not wasted.  The trimmed horns are then polished to give a nice shining glow and can be used for a variety of uses. In our case, lovely spoons, spreaders, scoops and bowls !

Marivic’s Modern T’nalak

M20150812_164202_resizedeet Marivic, a textile designer taking inspiration from the traditional T’nalak cloth to create unique weaves and colorations that infuse modern sensibilities into this handwoven T’iboli staple. Marivic’s fabrics are internationally sought after by designers and interior decorators alike.

Maricris Floirendo-Brias’ T’nalak Cloth

Meet M20150811_173007_resizedaricris Brias and learn about the cloth she is committed to preserving and promoting.

T’n20150811_175908_resizedalak is a traditional cloth found in Mindanao island made by people in Lake Sebu,called T’bolis,  This traditional cloth is hand-woven of Abaca fibers and traditionally has three primary colors, red, black and the original color of the Abaca leaves. The colors are naturally dyed, boiled in with bark, roots and leaves of plants. The intricate patterns of the Tinalak are believed to be seen by the “Dream Weavers” in their dreams. They can’t create a T’nalak design if it hasn’t been dreamed.

The T’nalak fabric holds a prominent place in T’boli culture, present in significant turning points, such as birth, marriage, and death. The T’bolis  expressed everything in the T’nalak: their dreams, beliefs, myths and even their religion. Making use of the various geometrical patterns and the trademark red, black and white colors, the T’bolis weave the natural and the supernatural in the abaca strands of the T’nalak. After a weaver reaches a certain degree of expertise, she becomes a “master weaver” – someone who can interpret and take inspiration from dreams. By all accounts, this seems to be an intense personal experience for the weaver, and the moment she succeeds in doing this is the moment she becomes an artist.

Making the t’nalak is a skill that young T’boli women learn through their mothers and grandmothers. Most of the existing weavers today come from a generation of t’nalak weavers that go back to their ancestors. Initially, the young T’boli women are introduced to the process by assisting. As they progress, they move on to the dyeing, weaving and tying of the knots. It can take one to five years of constant practice for a T’boli woman to fully learn the full process of the t’nalak.

American Women’s market

20150811_100049_resized20150811_102125_resizedThis morning I hit the American Women’s Club Bazaar with Bea’s Mom, Pamels. the AWCP is an organization of expat women from both American and other nationalities, residing in the Philippines.  The Club promotes and fosters American cultural values in its activities while celebrating the diversity of an international community.Proceeds benefit local Philippine charities. This monthly bazaar takes place at the SM Mall of Asia. With over 300 vendors showcasing textiles, jewelry, food, fashion and home products, I found some “must haves”…capiz ornaments for your holiday tree, coconut bowls with capiz interiors and carabao horn serving pieces…love them!!

The studio of Bea Valdes

20150811_114154_resized20150811_122029_resized20150811_114507_resized20150811_113903_resizedIt’s a family affair at the studio Valdes, with Bea taking the design reigns, Marga overseeing marketing and operations and Mom handling logistics. The studio was a beehive of activity with the finishing touches being added to Bea’s unique creations.  Federico has already selected his pieces for the upcoming showcase and I wanted to add a special collection for the store. I joined Bea and Marga in the conference room to discuss the direction for the store collection and then headed down to the archives to get the creative juices flowing. Mixed metals, chains unique draping and sculptural techniques are what’s catching my eye for fall. Bea’s creations are unlike any other designer I’ve come across. Many of her pieces are unique one of a kind statement pieces. You have an artisstic  treasure when you have a handbag or necklace designed by Bea Valdes . We are thrilled to have her work featured at AsiaStore this fall!

Shopping the markets with Wynn Wynn Ong

Follow AsiaStore’s Chief Merchandising Officer Anne Godshall as she scouts out the latest designs in Asia.

We were on the move at 7:30 in search of treasure. First stop Quiapo Market, not a luxurious place for20150810_083831_resized sure, but we did unearth some wonderful finds….Mother of Pearl and shell boxes, shell coasters, shell bangles, fabulous lacquered stones and of course capiz…mini tea lights that will be perfect for the holidays! From there we hit all the destination shops carrying beautifully made indigenous handicraft: Kultura, Tesoros and Balikbayan where we spotted a great hand woven floor mat for the exhibition set…had to have it! Check out a few of our favorite things…

GreenHills Shopping Extravaganza

20150810_132514_resizedNex20150809_152414_resized20150809_160633_resized_1t stop GreenHills Shopping Center in the city of San Juan . With over 2,000 stores, GreenHills is a destination shopping environment in a unique indoor/outdoor setting. Our first stop is for  pearls…aisles and aisles of pearl vendors, but my host knows the best ones to barter with. We select a delicate 4 pearl lariat on a silver plated chain, a 48″ chain accented with 20 freshwater pearls and a braided freshwater pearl and crystal necklace on a modern cord. We negotiate hard and come away with prices that will be perfect for your holiday gift giving needs!! On to the home section. Our first find is this petal fan in a rainbow of colors, followed by fabulous shell coasters and trivets and beautiful palm sized MOP shells, perfect for tapas!

Ditta Sandico

TodIMG_6530ay I met Ditta in her boutique to finalize her collection for the fall opening. We decided on a lovely mix of leather and abel fabric the traditional woven fabric of Vigan and the Ilocos region made from yarns of cotton or sagut that are sourced from northern Luzon. Dita has combined the abel fabric with a buttery soft leather for a unique and IMG_6528distinctive look. To compliment the abel  fabric Ditta uses her signature Pina fabric with leather accents. Horn rings and necklaces complete the collection…stunning!!

Legazpi Sunday Market Makati

I am up early and off to the Legazpi Market20150809_074807_resized_1, also know as the “organic market”. Despite a heavy emphasis on food and grocery items one can find some interesting craft including home accents, fashion, a20150809_081228_resized_1ccessories and novelties. Two of my favorite things included thes20150809_075843_resized_1
e fun floor mats and the beautiful shell tassels.. I’ve talked to the suppliers, checked out the prices and found that both suppliers will be participating in the American Women’s Bazaar on Tuesday. This Bazaar is held once a month and will feature a wider array of craftsman and artisans, so I think we’re going to hold off making our purchases til then.