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The Zobel women — Bea, Sofia and Paloma —on their Christmas passion

By MILLET M. MANANQUIL, The Philippine STAR Published Nov 29, 2023 5:00 am

Years ago, I bought a pair of white dangling earrings that looked very boho but timeless. The earrings had bohemian curlicues and stylized florals, and could go well with a Filipiniana outfit as well as jeans. And these were very light, even if huge. The earrings were by Bea Zobel Jr.

And there is a denim jacket I treasure because it carries colorful native weaves, patched on the denim fabric in a hip way. It is a work of Paloma Zobel Urquijo for her Piopio label.

I have yet to acquire a creation by Sofia Zobel-Elizalde, whose advocacy is taking care of aspiring ballet dancers from all walks of life in her Steps Dance Studio. Perhaps she can make a ballerina’s tutu using starched piña fabric?

Bea Zobel, Sofia Elizalde, Paloma Urquijo

“Nothing designed by me yet,” laughs Sofia. “But next year, I hope to collaborate with my favorite designers to create my own product.”

Bea Zobel, Sofia and Paloma are three women who share a passion: a Designers Holiday Bazaar put up a month before Christmas.

Actually, the mother-daughter team of Bea and Paloma earlier created a yearlong Artisans Village in El Nido, where they champion Philippine art and culture by featuring the works of Philippine artisans. 

Items by Paloma Zobel Urquijo for Piopio

“The Designers Holiday Bazaar really began as a group of creative friends coming together to showcase Philippine talent and to raise funds for APEC scholars,” Bea says. “Our group consisted of great friends and designers like Milo Naval, Tess Pasola, Karen Santos, Tony Gonzales and Maricris Brias. Over the years, the group grew as we saw the bazaar as an opportunity to become a platform for local designers to sell in a good location like Greenbelt.”

Bilao by Bea Zobel

Sofia explains further: “Yes, the bazaar was founded by my sister Bea 10 years ago as she does a great deal of charity and one of her main advocacies is to sponsor gifted children to go to high school and college for free. A few years ago, Bea saw the work I was doing with my Steps Scholarship Foundation, that gives free education in dance to gifted children. Because she was so inspired with what she saw, she invited me to be a part of the Designers’ Holiday Bazaar. All profits are given to her scholars through Ayala Foundation, and my dance scholars through the Steps Scholarship Foundation.”

Bea bags by Kanya

Bea adds: “I believe education is crucial to break the cycle of poverty. APEC offers a holistic education that nurtures students’ innate talents, feeds their curiosity and gives them the outlook they need to become successful leaders. At the heart of their educational philosophy is a constructivist approach to learning, which emphasizes active engagement and exploration as key components of the learning process.”

Parols by Caro Wilson

Sofia says, “A much larger space was designed by our dear friends and designers Antonio Garcia and Al Coronan for the bazaar, which opens in Glorietta Nov. 30 until Dec. 10. Participating merchants are 17 Hacienda Mar, Alegre, Amaris by Anne, Auro, Bea Zobel, Beatriz and Costa del Sol, Caro Wilson, Chysara Nest, Coco & Tres, Daily Schedule, DR Designs, El Ideal, Ereneta Manaloto Chorizo, Etniko Pilipino, Felicia’s Pastry Shop, Fresh Start, Gifts & Graces, Gustoko, Inasalan sa Dalan, Iraya Mangyan/Ayala Museum, J. Makitalo, Jhaz, Joel Escober, Kanya, Kassa, Kiki de Manille, La Herminia, Mabolo, Marissa’s Artisan Ice Crema & Pies, Matthew & Melka, Museo Pambata, Nicolo O Home, Patika, Quan, Red Slab Pottery, R. Filart, Riqueza, Rurungan Collective, Saint C, Skin Poem, T’nalak Home, Touch of Craft, Tess Laya and Yvette Cell.

Abaca Christmas tree by T’nalak Home

Paloma enthuses: “I believe we are seeing the younger generation innovate while still respecting and taking cues from the past. They are also in tune with the trends around the world, to create products that are in demand right now, but still with a Filipino character.”

So there. The Zobel women believe in selling with a purpose. They want to promote Filipino artistry and send children to school. This is how Bea, Sofia and Paloma also express their own creativity.