For those who haven’t yet given their gifts to their godchildren and loved ones, here’s to remind and warn you that the Christmas season has not yet officially ended. It actually began on 25 December and its 12th day is the Epiphany of the Lord, or Three Kings’ Day, traditionally on the 6th of January. But the Christmas season doesn’t end with the arrival of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts. There is still the Day of the Baptism of the Lord which, in the Catholic Calendar this year, falls on 13 January.
So, I guess there’s enough time to remember the ones we forgot last Christmas Day, or those for whom we had a hard time looking for a gift because they are special and discriminating. Besides, who was it who said about saving the best for last?
A few weeks before Christmas, Tim Tam Ong unveiled her heirloom collection, beautiful modern jewelry made of local gemstones — including mother-of-pearl, carabao horn and baroque pearls — from various parts of the Philippines including Palawan, and handcrafted by our very own artisans. These are beautiful pieces truly reflective of our own Filipino arts and culture, and if you have yet to give a female family member or a lady friend something special and unique, as well as valuable, Tim Tam Ong just might have the right object-of-desire for you.
Daily Tribune visited Tim Tam in her Powerplant Mall shop at Rockwell. We could not have been more pleased with what we saw — both the beautiful person that Tim Tam Ong is, and the jewelry that she sells, artworks that confirm the greatness of the Filipino artist and, without a doubt, complement the beauty of the woman who will wear them.
Tim Tam, aside from being a talented designer, seems very much at home in the field of marketing. She does know what she is selling because she designs them herself. She deals with the artisans and she is hands-on right at the shop, although her day starts with getting her two sons ready for the day’s schedule and accompanying them herself as they are driven to their school. As soon as she is at the office, she attends to paper work, marketing and what have you. Quiet time is when she designs. She also visits her workshop in Bulacan, so Tim Tam does move around a lot.
Many things inspire her, including her travels and meeting people. This heirloom collection, though, has been mostly motivated by her desire for her customers to know more about the beauty of the Philippines, which is manifested in local crafts. As a mother, she is perplexed that her two boys need to know more about their roots and learn their national language, Filipino, better. Since she is constantly bonding with her children, she hopes to share with them stories about their culture and how she is incorporating them into her designs. This way, they do not only have a better appreciation of the Philippines, but also a greater insight into their roots.
The past few weeks saw us visiting various stores as we searched for gifts that we believe would be appreciated by those we truly love. These are gifts that are hand-carved and therefore made with care, practical and exquisite. Many gifts are received with a “duh” but the ones I am suggesting here, especially designed by Tim Tam Ong, are sure to be received with a “Wow.”
Her unique designs, interestingly, include detachable pieces, “so if it’s long and dangling, the lower part can actually just be removed, and you can keep the studs on top. They’re like transformers and you could wear them to suit the occasion,” says Tim Tam.
If you have yet to choose a gift for someone who deserves only the best, and not just an afterthought, Tim Tam Ong’s gorgeous jewelry pieces are likely to impress their recipients, make them happy, and inspire them to feel very much favored by the giver.
Difficulty with speaking Filipino
Daily Tribune (DT): Is this heirloom collection only for the holidays?
Tim Tam Ong (TTO): Normally, what we do with our other collections is after we have launched them and sold the stock, we already proceed to the next collection. We don’t repeat any piece from the previous collection. But since our heirloom collection is a tribute to our culture, we are going to continue producing these pieces and continuously add new designs under this collection.
DT: When did you start thinking of the heirloom collection?
TTO: It has been going on in my mind to make an heirloom collection, but this is the first time. That’s why it took years. I have had the design for a long time, but this year, I said, I should really launch it already.
DT: What made you think of it?
TTO: My children. My kids are growing up and they study in an international school. And they’re having a hard time in Filipino. So, I said, what is wrong with these children? They don’t even know where they came from, what we’re really all about, so they’re really part of my inspiration. They’re having a hard time speaking Filipino. And I tell them, you know, you have to speak your language.
DT: How was your childhood? Where did you grow up?
TTO: I grew up in Parañaque. And then I studied in Assumption. My mother was strict. I couldn’t go out and play in the park. My friends instead would come to our house. So we would play in our garden.
DT: When did you start doing Tim Tam Ong Jewelry?
TTO: Around three years ago.
A mind of their own
DT: Who are your buyers?
TTO: Well, these are women who know what they want. You know what I mean? These are not women who say, “Ay, what should I buy?” Or, “Ay, I’m not sure what I really want.”
Instead, these are women who know what they want, and what they want is to be different. They’re educated, cultured and well-heeled. So, they have a mind of their own.
DT: When did you start learning how to design? Did you go to school?
TTO: I did. At the Gemological Institute of America. Actually, it’s an online course, so I would go there only for exams. It’s an ongoing thing so I am still working on the other courses. I really love learning.
DT: Where do you get your gold?
TTO: This one’s from here (points at a pair of earrings). Our goldsmiths are from Meycauayan. We have a studio there.
DT: Your pieces are very beautiful. You really are inspired.
TTO: Oh, thanks so much. I pray a lot so there’s really inspiration. I also want to bring the talent of the local craftsmen to the world. I believe it’s in the Philippines where we have the best craftsmen. On a whim, I went to another country just to see. It’s supposed to produce some of the best jewelry. But they couldn’t do what our craftsmen can do. Even if I draw it for them, they could not execute the design, they could not interpret my designs, unlike our own craftsmen who can really do them well.
DT: So this isn’t just about the design, but also the craftsmanship.
TTO: Yes, because this is a teamwork. I could not produce without them. And so we work together. It’s not only my passion that comes out, but also that of the goldsmith. Everyone has a role here, including the manager of the store and our sales associates. We put our passions together to bring in good results. This is a team, it is not just about me.
You may visit Tim Tam Ong and the Heritage Collection for your last-minute Christmas and early Valentine’s gifts at R2 Level, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City with tel. numbers 0917-814-1898 or (02) 519-6358; and at the LRI Design Plaza, Bel-Air II, 210 Nicanor Garcia, Makati, 1209 Metro Manila with tel. no. (02) 895 1772).