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Blending Filipino creativity and hospitality




The much-awaited annual MaArte Fair on 16 to 18 August at The Peninsula Manila offers a more enjoyable and festive shopping experience this year as it recreates old Manila open-house Christmas parties.

Instead of The Peninsula Manila’s gallery, the fair will take place in two designated guest floors with exhibitors spread out across 41 guest rooms, from which they can showcase their pieces and engage with shoppers

Dubbed as MaArte oPEN House (wordplay on the venue The Peninsula Manila), the fair is considered as the most prestigious showcase of premium, limited edition pieces by Filipino craftsmen of men and women’s fashion, accessories, home decor and food.

What makes this year more special is that it will offer a different, more exciting shopping experience to its loyal and new patrons.

Wicker outdoor shoe tray from Domesticity.

“Instead of The Peninsula Manila’s gallery, the fair will take place in two designated guest floors with exhibitors spread out across 41 guest rooms, from which they can showcase their pieces and engage with shoppers,” said Museum Foundation of the Philippines (MFPI) president Albert Avellana, organizer of the annual fundraising event.

Imagine scouring the offerings of 65 merchants displayed at the two floors of the hotel recreated like the salons and lounge areas of the North Syquia Apartments, one of Manila’s historic buildings from the 1930s.

Christmas parties
“We took inspiration from the legendary open-door parties of Syquia Apartments in Malate in the early 2000,” explained MFPI board member Mico Manalo. “At that time, Syquia was a known enclave of artists, fashion designers, publishers and other creatives. Around Christmas time, the residents would designate a date wherein guests can move from one apartment to another to party and socialize. There was a sense of community and openness then. That melding of the creative spirit and hospitality is what we aim to recreate during the fair.”

Stylish slippers from Pamela.

MaArte oPEN house aims to recreate the open-house parties of that famous Manila address where residential unit owners would leave their doors open during holidays to welcome guests for cocktails and food.

Incidentally, visual artist Phyllis Zaballero, who serves as MFPI vice president, lived in the said iconic apartment. “The parties in those apartments were really mellow in mood, very creative and had a particular warmth to it. Everyone knew each other so it just seemed natural that friends would bring friends along to their homes and their neighbors’ homes. It was one big community where everyone felt safe and welcome,” she reminisced.

This sense of creativity and hospitality inspired Zaballero and her colleagues at MFPI to channel the vibrant energy of that gathering and bring it to the 11th MaArte Fair.

More local arts and crafts
The fair is getting bigger and more successful each year. Avellana recalled how it started as a table bazaar at the National Museum 11 years ago. From about 10 to 15 exhibitors, it has grown to 42 exhibitors last year. This year, 65 brands will exhibit in two guestroom floors at The Peninsula Manila.

MATTHEW and Melk bag by Ken Samudio featuring shells.

With such a remarkable success, how do you top the achievement of last year’s fair? “This year, our answer was to take inspiration from that iconic social gathering as we celebrate the relationships that have been made not just among our merchants, artists, and artisans, but also among our regular patrons,” replied Manalo. “MaArte Fair has really become a sort of neighborhood of advocates for Philippine art, crafts and heritage.

Loyal patrons will see familiar sellers including Aranaz luxury handmade accessories, Tim Tam Ong jewelry, TDLG by Tweetie De Leon accessories and bags, Oscar Mejia handcrafted scents, Piopio handwoven chic apparel, Siklo upcycled bags, Haute Home Manila hand-painted houseware and accessories and Gifts & Graces bags and accessories.

Enjoy visiting the displays of new participants including Ibarra (the first locally assembled Filipino watch brand), Pika Pika+Pinta (notecards and scarves), Coco & Tres (bag, pouches and travel accessories), Joel Escober (apparel), Lally Dizon (bags and accessories), WYC Wear Your Culture (apparel), Whimsy by Silay Export (home tabletop accessories), DSV Studio (jewelry) and Matthew and Melka by Ken Samudio (accessories).

For local gourmet lovers, you will appreciate Auro (bean-to-bar chocolates), Green Babes (organic and gourmet local food items), Felicisimo Gourmet Homecooking (bottled gourmet goodies) and Tsaa Laya (tea brand).

The chill atmosphere at MaArte oPEN House levels up with a bar set-up on each floor of the venue where you can enjoy happy hour cocktails and light refreshments via MaArte Fair’s Cheers! and Snack vouchers.

Shop for a cause
The excitement of a shopping bash supporting local artists and artisans is just one aspect of the yearly MaArte Fair. Its core purpose is to raise funds for the National Museum and its network. Through the years, it has helped in funding various projects such as the publication of exhibit monographs of Silang Church, provision of scholarship funds for ICOMOS Philippines for 10 participants to learn photogrammetry and the printing of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ visual catalogue, to name a few.  The Peninsula Manila’s director of public relations Mariano Garchitorena summarized it beautifully. “It’s a celebration of our culture,” he said.

“The potters from Sagada, weavers from Lake Sebu, bag makers of Davao and jewelers from Muntinlupa create beautiful objects while creating jobs. When you purchase something at the MaArte Fair, you never know what this might bring into your life — a thing of beauty and function, and maybe even a renewed love of country.”

Along with the annual fundraising is MaArte Talks, a series of conversations with select business owners who will offer entrepreneurial tips and insights.

Start your shopping season with a bang by attending the MaArte oPEN house on 16 to 18 August (Friday to Sunday), 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., at The Peninsula Manila in Makati City.
Admission is free and open to the general public. To learn more about MaArte oPEN house, check and Instagram @maartefair. You may also call the Museum Foundation of the Philippines Inc. at (02) 404 2685, send an e-mail to or visit