Friday, December 7, 2012

work in progress

When I was a kid, my favorite Childcraft volume was #11 Make and Do.  It was a source of many wonderful craft, costume, and play ideas. My brothers and I poured over the pages on almost every free day we had.  So it was such a pleasant surprise when I found out my husband shared the same intense passion for the whole Childcraft series, which now has a special place among our treasured collections for our kids to enjoy.

By the time I was in the 5th grade, I got into the habit of making things that I knew weren’t readily available in stores.  It taught me to work patiently, respect procedures, and to simply enjoy quiet and focused activities at home.  I also learned to become a little obsessive about getting exactly the look I wanted, and to not settle for things so quickly. Because with a little patience, concentration, and creativity, I knew I could make something that was uniquely my own.

In college, I discovered Martha Stewart on a local cable channel.  I began collecting her magazines, taping her shows on VHS (!), and basing every crafting decision I made on her style and advice.

Those invaluable lessons certainly helped me cope when I married and moved to the province with my husband.  When there was nothing to do, I painted the walls of our house, re-upholstered accent chairs, etc. I would get completely absorbed in crafting that I hardly felt the scarcity of materials and resources. I was caught up in an endless cycle of sourcing possible materials, “making” the things I couldn’t find, and  finishing the actual projects.

Back in Manila and nursing a new baby, I suddenly got a call from an old friend, Tata Mapa.  I had previously worked for her as contributing stylist during her days as Seventeen magazine’s managing and associate editor.  Her newest gig was editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines! (cue: angel choir singing)  She asked if I wanted to do some work for her on the magazine and I was thrilled and nervous at the same time.  I asked my husband for advice. He simply said, “You love Martha Stewart! And now the opportunity to work for her comes to you, here in the Philippines! What were the chances of that?  I think you know you should do it.” 

we went for an "element of surprise" concept
for this cover and asked aranaz to make a bag
that looked like a bouquet!
photo by at maculangan

Even if I was just going to be a contributing stylist, Tata wanted me to learn some things as though I was a staff member. So I would first have to train for my assignments along with the tight team of managing editor, Paulynn Chang-Afable, and section editor, Charisse Katigbak.  The shoots were incredible, intense, uber-detailed and beautiful.  We poured so much of ourselves into our work  since we had to send everything to New York for approval.  New York! So close yet so far.  I would imagine Martha Stewart looking at our styled work and would get such a thrill that I was somehow connected to her.

this tower of favors (by peachy juban of shortcrust)
made for an extra-challenging project.
photo by at maculangan
Through all this, it was great to find in Tata, a style-sister! At Martha, we had to make magic happen with simple resources. Which was a lot like what I had to do as a homemaker in Bacolod. Tata knew about colors and had a knack for mixing and matching things, just the way I liked them, too.  And just as I loved my Childcraft moments, she had always been a natural when it came to subjects like Home Ec and English, so it was no surprise she ended up as editor of a magazine like Martha Stewart Weddings

Fast forward to 2010. Tata whispered to me, saying that she was leaving the magazine. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do that. I mean, leave Martha Stewart? Why?! She calmly explained that she had reached her goals and was ready for something new.  She seemed so at ease and happy with her decision that I could see that she had made the right one—even if I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

the whole team pulled out all the stops for this cover. boxes from tie me up buttercup, tiffany chairs (in wenge finish) by banquet ensemble, event styling by jo claravall. photo by at maculangan.

But now that we’re enjoying ourselves with this blog, and our other projects, I’m starting to understand what Tata meant. In many ways, I still get that old “Martha Stewart” feeling as we share our thoughts, project ideas, and excitement about ribbons and nice paper. But it’s also very different because now, we are doing something that is more closely connected to who we are. Together we are gathering our life experiences and insights, and are sharing and creating something from our innermost hearts. It’s almost like our “magazine” title now is tata & anna. This time around, we are the project, the materials, and the process. And each new entry is part of who we are: a work in progress.

Thanks for being here as we grow,


P.S. Here's a shout out to Cleone, Loren, Tara, Nat and all the other wonderful and talented individuals we worked with on the magazine!


  1. thanks, anna! those were good times :) and don't you just love how many times, we are already doing what we want to do with our lives--we only have to step back and realize it!

  2. A beautiful story with wonderful insights into life, Anna! You and Tata are two extremely talented ladies, and Martha Stewart Magazine should be so proud to have had you on board, even for a little while!

    1. thanks, fong! sometimes i still can't believe that i got to launch the first-ever international edition of a martha magazine. it was like the dream that i never even knew i had that came true. i guess we find that life is really filled with blessings if we just listen to our hearts :)

  3. Congratulations Anns.. You've done it. With your talent and personality, I know this will be a great success.

    1. Thank you, Emma, for your kind words and support! :)