This Three-Day Open House of Cool Filipino Things is Actually a Party

The MaArte Open House wants you to mingle, sip, and shop.
IMAGE Courtesy of MaArte

Inclusivity, sustainability, work-life balance, straws made out of metal, low carb but high fat—these are the buzzy topics taking much of your brain space right now. Add to this list of Cool Things to Care About the noble cause of going local or, more specifically, supporting products made in the Philippines by amazing local artisans.

Starting tomorrow, the MaArte Fair presents its array of fashionable wares at The Peninsula Manila. To those not in the know, the chichi name says it all. MaArte is the annual fair that trains the spotlight on homegrown products, all interesting, mostly artisanal, and some downright weird. That weave bag in the shape of a crab? It’s for your beach-loving girlfriend, of course.

Photo by Courtesy of MaArte.

And yes, it is a shopping affair. We know just how much you love those, but consider this: MaArte is making the experience cool by retooling this year's presentation. Instead of a bazaar-like setup, the fair transforms itself into an open house. Think laid-back party in many different rooms, which just happen to be situated in the fanciest address in town. The Pen reserves 41 of its guest rooms for the occasion's 60 exhibitors.


The concept is inspired by one of the coolest (and secret) house parties around, the holiday amusements of the residents of the North Syquia Apartments in Manila. Have you been?

Have you seen one of these pre-war units blessed with high ceilings and a flood of light that can only be described as honeyed? And have you been invited to one of these legendary parties, where about a dozen apartments are left open for residents—mercurial creatives, fashion designers, editors, and their assorted lovers—to explore? Have a cocktail here. Nibble on cheese there. Dance next door. Party till dawn.

Photo by Courtesy of MaArte.
Photo by Courtesy of MaArte.
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This is sort of like that, but with a focus on shopping.

Admittedly, it will be easier for the wife to partake in native fantasias such as a knit coat that uses legacy patterns by Allena or a little bag made of mother of pearl and seashells by Matthew and Melka. So, for you, her loyal companion, MaArte made sure to make the trip worthwhile with a dedicated man cave full of, well, man goods.

Our picks include the bomber jacket with weaved sleeves in black by Wear Your Culture, the short-sleeve shirt covered in blue foliage by Randy Ortiz, and, if you're feeling daring, lace-up shoes that incorporate handwoven Yakan (from Basilan) and Binakol (from Ilocos) fabrics by Maco Custodio.

Photo by Courtesy of MaArte.

Photo by Courtesy of MaArte.

Photo by Courtesy of MaArte.

There is also a selection of elegant timepieces from Filipino watchmaker Ibarra. The ticker with a gold case, white face, and brown leather strap, in particular, draws the eye. It's a solid candidate for suit-and-tie affairs or, really, every day.

And then there is the bar—bars actually—found on both floors of the open house, so you can sip and shop, which is a dangerous activity. Trust us.

Photo by Courtesy of MaArte.

Photo by Courtesy of MaArte .

Getting a glamorous plate charger (we couldn’t find a metal straw) may just be a small step toward helping independent Filipino craftsmen and companies, but also know that all your shopping, in fact, raises funds for the National Museum. MaArte reports it has helped fund projects such as the monographs in Silang Church, scholarships for ICOMOS Philippines, and the visual catalog of the Cultural Center of the Philippines through the years.

Sounds good, right? Come for the vibe. Stay for the drinks. And shop.

The MaArte Open House runs from August 16 to 18, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., at The Peninsula Manila, Makati.

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Clifford Olanday
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