Calling all the titas of Manila: Stilo ArteFino is back

Published August 5, 2022, 2:12 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

Let the beso-beso and shopping begin!

Pre-pandemic, one of the biggest red letter days of Tita Society, and of the circle of women and men who patronize Filipino artisanal craft, would be the annual ArteFino fair. Traditionally held at the Power Plant, or in one of the Rockwell Land buildings in their Makati area, it was three days of bargain finds and buys, and beso-beso of the highest magnitude. The times I’d drop by, it would be a crazy, crowded maelstrom that pretty much functioned as the ultimate of reunion and day parties, as friends who hadn’t seen each other in years, would find ArteFino the perfect venue to bump into each other and reconnect. And the wonderful truth about ArteFino is how it would be an eclectic mix of the old and the young.

ArteFino transitioned to become an online phenomenon during the COVID years, but if that was then, this is now. Come Aug. 25, ArteFino is back as a physical event. Taking into consideration the fact that the virus is still lingering, however, they’ve smartly tinkered with the format, so that those gargantuan crowds of yesteryears will not be an issue.

Featuring over 150 brands, of which some 44 are getting their ArteFino baptism of retail fire, this year’s ArteFino 2022 will run from Aug. 25 to Sept. 28 at the ground floor of the Power Plant Mall. The little kink is that each week will see a slew of different brands “popping up”—a reason to come back week after week and discover which brands are being put under the ArteFino spotlight. The prevailing spirit is still one of creativity and community, so rest assured that the organizers have handpicked the 150 brands to showcase quality, diversity, and keen pricing.

Some of ArteFino’s founders: (from left) Armita Rufino, Maritess Pineda, Cedie Vargas, and Marimel Francisco

One of the festival’s founders, Marimel Francisco, enthused about this new format, mentioning that some 40 percent of the vendors are new, speaking of the emergence of social enterprises, and promoting sustainable living. “This year’s roster will show the many layers of responsible retailing that include going hyper local and employing fair trade practices,” she adds.

Me, I liked how the new format encompassed physical safety by limiting numbers, while still promoting and encouraging responsible entrepreneurship. It’s a known fact that there are some out there who still refuse to go out, and the online aspect is still available. But for those ready to venture out, these four weeks will be a welcome miniature version of what we all know ArteFino has been about.

From fashion to jewelry and accessories, from food products and home furnishings to everyday style suggestions, ArteFino is a treasure trove of Filipino artistry, craftsmanship, and ingenuity. Co-founder Maritess Pineda was excited to mention that to be reintroduced this year is The Barracks—a curated space for men to lounge, browse, and shop. And we men can be super thankful for that as in the past, while all the beso-beso and catching up would be going on, we’d just be idly waiting on the sidelines, carrying the shopping bags.

The brain trust behind The Seven Pantry

I also got excited during the media event with The Seven Pantry display, where really original and unique sauces, mixes, and jams can be found—food products that should go a long way in popularity. I believe they’ll be displaying their wares on the third and fourth weeks of ArteFino, with more than seven (pantry) good reasons to head back to Power Plant.

All in all, it’s looks like an exciting four weeks of retail discoveries. And that it’s all happening as the -ber months are ushered in should be very relevant for those who do their holiday shopping early.