What She Wants

Behind the Scenes at ArteFino, Manila's Luxury Crafts Fair

Marimel Francisco and her ArteFino team support artisanal communities and promote Philippine-made products.

The ArteFino fair showcases the best of Filipino arts and crafts, helping to improve the lives of the artisans behind the beautiful products. T&C spends a day with ArteFino’s vice president for marketing and communications Marimel Francisco.

What time did you wake up today?

6 a.m.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Check on my kids to see if they are getting ready for school and have breakfast with Toddy, my husband.

What did you have for breakfast?

Oatmeal with crunchy granola toppings, a papaya, and of course, my morning cup of coffee.

Are you on any diets?

Not strictly. I just try to be conscious of my sugar intake, and I gave up rice earlier this year.

Exercise routine?

I try to do Zumba thrice a week, and spin class and gym twice a week with a trainer.

What do you usually wear on a full day of errands?

A crisp white shirt, jeans, and ballet flats.

What’s always in your handbag?

My rosary, cellphone, wallet, and hand wipes.

Tell us about your involvement with the Museum Foundation.

I was a trustee of the foundation, and at the same time I worked on MaArte for five years, helping with raising funds for its projects.

You also co-founded ArteFino, which made its debut this year. Can you tell us about it?

ArteFino is a movement committed to showcasing the very best of what the Filipino has to offer in terms of our arts and crafts, and in doing so, uplifting the artisanal communities that create these crafts. We encourage product innovation, pushing the artist-entrepreneurs to develop products that are relevant to today’s lifestyle so they thrive in both the local and the global market.


What do you and your co-founders hope to achieve through ArteFino?

We hope to preserve our cultural heritage and its living traditions. Embroidery, weaving—these are traditions which are slowly fading, as the younger members of the community would rather work abroad, and in a way, I can’t blame them. However, if we are able to provide a strong market that appreciates these products and are willing to pay, giving them a sustainable livelihood, then I’m hoping they will be encouraged to stay and continue the craft that was handed down to them from one generation to another.

What were your favorite discoveries at ArteFino?

Zarah Juan’s mules in multi-colors which were hand-beaded by the Bagobo tribe from Mount Apo, Davao; Michelline Syjuco’s hand-carved kamagong tassel earrings; Anthill’s Panyo skirt and Panyo Kapa are so stunning, they make you wear the weaves proudly.

When’s the busiest time of year for you?

August, definitely, because that’s ArteFino month.

Who are your favorite local fashion designers?

Maureen Disini, Gabbie Sarenas, and Mark Bumgarner.

What about local brands?

Filip+ Inna, Betina, Sofie.b, Kaayo, and Anthill.

What book are you reading right now?

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

Favorite books?

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini; The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger; The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain; A Personal History, by Katherine Graham. The list goes on.

Recommended Videos

Staple magazines?

Vanity Fair, In Style, Town & Country, Rogue, and Architectural Digest.

Favorite websites?

Net-a-Porter (for global fashion), Amazon (for anything and everything), Christie’s (for my art fix), and Architectural Digest (for home inspirations).

Favorite gadget?

My cellphone.

How much time do you spend on social media?

Too much! I enjoy Instagram a lot.

What’s on your playlist?

Christina Perri, Coldplay, and Bruno Mars.

Describe your clothing style.

Classic, but lately I’ve been mixing and matching with indigenous weaves and locally handmade fashion, and proudly wearing local.

Favorite shops?

Uterque, Massimo Dutti, Zara, Pottery Barn, Chanel, and flea markets abroad.

Wardrobe staples?

Jeans, a pencil skirt, a black evening top, white lace tops, dangling earrings.


A Rolex Oyster Perpetual, given to me by my husband on a special occasion.

What fragrance are you wearing?

Jo Malone’s Nectarine Blossom & Honey.

Do you wear others?

Annick Goutal’s Petite Cherie.

What do you like most about your appearance?

My smile, because I inherited the dimples from my dad.

What makeup and skincare products could you not live without?

Benefit Porefessional, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Perricone MD No Highlighter highlighter, Perricone MD No Foundation foundation, and Chanel lipstick.

Lunch today: business or pleasure?

Business, but it always feels like pleasure with the ArteFino ladies: Susie Quiros, Cedie Vargas, Mita Rufino, and Maritess Pineda.


Chef Jessie’s at Rockwell Club.

What’s on the menu?

Caesar salad with grilled scallops, and a chocolate soufflé.

Favorite restaurants?

Kuretake, Sugi, and Inagiku.


Favorite cuisine?

Japanese, but also Spanish, Italian, and Filipino.

Drink of choice?

Hendrick’s gin and tonic.

Who are your dream lunch companions?

Right now, what I’d give for another lunch with my dad.

Were you given any great advice today?

When you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.

What was the prettiest thing you saw today?

The smiles of my kids before they left for school.

Favorite cities to travel to with your family? Why?

Traveling with young kids is still challenging for me, so I find that Tokyo is always a good idea. It’s close enough, safe, kid-friendly, plus the food is delicious! If my husband and I were to travel without the kids, it would definitely be either London, Madrid, or New York.

What other activities do you do with your children to bond?

We don’t have to go very far—as long as they have our undivided attention, they’re happy. We take them swimming, to the beach, out of town to the farm, and of course, they love the amusement and ocean parks, either here or abroad. We have “story time” every night before their bedtime, and I make sure to be home in time for this.


Any plans for the holiday season? When will you get gift shopping out of the way?

I’m the type of person who shops year-round, so I’m usually done by November. I also like to give out homemade goodies to special friends, whether it be my cheese pimiento, lemon squares, or dark chocolate chip cookies.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2017?

I’m looking forward to working on new and challenging projects we have in the pipeline, supporting artisanal communities and promoting Filipino-made products.

What do you do as soon as you get home?

I hug my kids, put them to bed, and have dinner with my husband.

What does your home look like?

It’s a home that has our character stamped on it. We opted not to have an interior designer work on the furnishings, and I’m quite proud about how it all came together. It did take me a year, however, to furnish the living room, because I couldn’t commit to a certain look. I enjoyed decorating it slowly, piece by piece, only purchasing items I truly fell in love with. My home is also clutter-free. I’m extremely organized, and love to clear out closets and purge and make room for new things to come into my life.

What’s the newest thing you’ve bought for your home?

A painting by Marc Aran Reyes.

Do you cook?

Yes, cooking is therapeutic for me. I find it freeing, concocting something along the way, or adjusting an old recipe from my grandmother to my liking.


Do you bake? What dishes or pastries are you most known for?

I’ve been baking since I was maybe 10 years old. It was my first love. My lemon squares, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, food for the gods, and fudgy chocolate cake.

How do you entertain?

I keep it simple, with a small group that fits around my dining table, usually a party of 10 to 12 people. Entertaining is my chance to try out new dishes. I’ve learned to prepare for the event in stages throughout the week prior, so it isn’t so overwhelming on the day itself. I really enjoy all the “fuss” when it comes to entertaining—theme, table settings, floral arrangements, music, menu, and putting together giveaways for the guests to take home.

How often?

Once every couple of months.

What are your entertaining staples?

An interesting mix of friends, home-cooked dishes, good wine, and lots of candles.


Any guilty pleasure today?

It would definitely have to be my friend Susie’s apple pie!

Greatest extravagance?

Art for my (non-existent) walls!

Pet peeve?

People who don’t take responsibility for their actions.

Who is your dream date?

McDreamy! Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy.

Love of your life?

Toddy—16 years strong. I thank God every day for him.

What do you wear to a hot date?

A little black dress.

Quality you like most in a man?

Wit, intelligence, a sense of humor, and confidence.

Where are you having dinner tonight?

At home.

What’s for dinner?

Iberian chicken with marbled potatoes and angel hair pasta with stewed tomatoes, garlic, and bacon.

What else are you up to tonight?

Catching up on this season’s Suits.

What time are you going to sleep?

10:30 p.m.

What do you hope to dream about?

A restful day at the beach with my family.

This story was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Town&Country.

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