City of Love takes center stage at Apec meets | Inquirer Business

City of Love takes center stage at Apec meets

WHAT’S NOT to love in the city of Iloilo?

Apparently none, as the City of Love has proven in its recent hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) ministerial meetings. Welcoming delegates and guests with their signature warmth and gentle demeanor, the City of Iloilo and its people have shown further why it continues to be among the favored tourist destinations in the country.


This historic city center, with its rich culture and heritage, offered Apec delegates a delectable selection of famous Ilonggo cuisine with the La Paz batchoy taking center stage, as well as an array of indigenous products and Iloilo’s best kept treasures.

Also put on display at the Iloilo Convention Center, where the 22nd Apec Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting and Related Activities and the 9th Senior Disaster Management Officials’ Forum (SDMOF) were held, were some of Iloilo’s finest fashion collections made from materials indigenous to the province such as hablon, piña and abaca, as well as premier artisanal handicrafts and heirloom pieces.


A fashion show showcased precisely these—Iloilo’s finely crafted pieces of jewelry and local fabric hablon, during a welcome dinner hosted by the City of Iloilo led by its Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog.

Gustatory delights and a taste of the Dinagyang Festival allowed Apec delegates to experience and enjoy the Ilonggo culture, while being serenaded by tenor Rainier Talamera.

Gold heritage

What stole the show that special night was the jewelry exhibit that was mounted in time for the province’s hosting of the Apec meetings. Dubbed “Heritage: The Ilonggo Story in Gold,” the exhibit that displayed some of the provinces best jewelry collection and various heirloom pieces, gave delegates and guests a glimpse of the province’s rich cultural heritage and history.

Story has it that Iloilo had an abundance of gold that anywhere the Spaniards would go there was gold to behold. The province’s ancient goldsmiths were also believed to have mastered the craft of shaping this precious metal into adornments that decorated not only Iloilo’s women, but its men as well.

The story likewise tells that in the 16th century, an Agustinian priest Lorca who was in the province noted that the people of Iloilo had their ears pierced in two places. Expensive as they were, earrings, necklaces and bracelets had been common ornaments of beauty.

This Ilonggo heritage has been carried on for years by generations that followed and with this, gold has consequently molded the richness of the province’s culture and history.


Thus for this year’s Apec hosting, Iloilo’s very own Sarabia Jewelry created the finest memorabilia in the form of a medallion that encapsulated the province’s exquisite beauty and long storied past.

The Ilonggo Heritage Medallion, an Apec 2015 memorabilia, speaks of the Ilonggo story that, according to Sarabia Jewelry, has long been written in gold. Sarabia Jewelry is one of Iloilo’s pride, making it the perfect storyteller of choice in the jewelry industry.

Trusted jewelers

Founded by Amparo Divinagracia Sarabia, the first Sarabia Jewelry store opened in 1945 in Guanco Street in Iloilo. This family owned store remained one of Iloilo’s most trusted jewelers over the decades, as it managed to maintain its tradition of quality, fine craftsmanship, ingenuity as well personalized service—making a piece of Sarabia jewelry a part of every milestone and celebration in most Ilonggo households.

Now on its 70th year of creating exquisite pieces, Sarabia’s epic journey has endured years of trials and triumphs. With three generations of service with integrity and professionalism, it was not at all surprising to see the brand continuously growing and evolving despite stiff competition from both here and abroad.

Family tradition

“We are dedicated to continuing the family tradition. Our designs are very classic but each time with a twist of modernity. We offer personalized service that provides Sarabia Jewelry customers with the finest in diamonds, jewelry and watches,” Gina Sarabia Espinosa, daughter of the Sarabia Jewelry founder, said in a publication issued by the company.

“Heritage, culture, jewelry, fashion, art—these are sectors where significant synergies for collaboration can be made,” she added.

For Apec 2015, Sarabia Jewelry collaborated with Amparo’s granddaughter, Kathy Sarabia-Babst, and her childhood friend, Kathy Gregorio-Anover, and Mila Imson. Together they created and showcased pieces that further strengthened the city’s already rich culture while at the same time enhancing the brands heritage of creating fine ornaments and jewelry.

“What started as a mutual passion for jewelry has led to an entirely new kind of collaboration for Sarabia Jewelry. We’re hoping for more collaborations in the future,” Gina said.

“Our pieces are our way of paying homage to the rich history of our hometown. We are proud to be a part of this year’s Apec hosting wherein we were accorded the privilege to showcase our craft and our province’s historical treasures through the form of a jewelry,” added

Kathy and Kathy Bespoke is a keepsake jewelry brand formed under the partnership of Kathy Sarabia-Babst, and Kathy Gregorio-Anover, who both hailed from Iloilo and have been friends since they were kids. The partnership was born out of their love for their hometown and the desire to create something that could capture and encapsulate the province’s beauty in the most opulent and artistic form.

Both Sarabia-Babst and Gregorio-Anover believe that jewelry is one of the best ways to express one’s emotions and as such, should be made not only with precise specifications, but with a conscious effort to interpose the wearer’s sentiments and desires.

Handcrafted jewelry

“Our pieces are meant to immortalize the subtle elegance of our hometown, to wearable forms of art that are worthy to be passed on. In line with this, we created designs, a limited edition collection, that are inspired by the treasures of Iloilo,” said Gregorio-Anover.

Among the pieces displayed during the Apec exhibit were the “Panubli-On” capsule collection, which featured medallions and earrings that took after the intricacies of the famous landmarks such as the neo-gothic St. Anne Church of Molo District; the famous beaux arts-inspired Nelly Garden Mansion; the centuries-old Miag-ao Church; the Jaro Cathedral which houses La Nuestra Candelaria; and the historical art deco district, Calle Real.

“Kathy and Kathy Bespoke exudes a dedicated combination of legacy and sensuality that can only come from artisan who stay true and honest to the craft. Each of our jewelry is carefully crafted and personally made for our clients. We don’t mass produce because we believe that every piece of jewelry should have its own identity. We deal with our clients on a more personal level, we try to really understand and deliver what they want,” Sarabia-Babst claimed.

The same pieces were launched during this year’s MaArte Fair 2015, where Kathy Bespoke also showcased the Tree of Life Medallion and earrings that were inspired by the Miag-ao Church, a Unesco Heritage site built in 1727 in Miag-ao, Iloilo. The design features natural textures and native flora details that are evident in the church’s facade.

“We also have the Nelly Garden Medallion and earrings that was inspired by the Nelly Garden Heritage Mansion of Iloilo City. This entirely handmade statement medallion features an Italian Cameo with swags and ornate flowers design, reminiscent of the Beaux arts era,” Gregorio-Anover said.

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TAGS: APEC, apec 2015, art, Business, destination, gold, Iloilo, Jewelry, Tourism, tourist
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