It is a testament to her creativity that, despite her personal beauty, it is Bea Valdez’s work that shines brightest. Since its inception in 2004, her world-renowned jewelry has continuously garnered acclaim. She collaborated with Shanghai Tang on a statement necklace for its Autumn/Winter 2011 collection; her creation for Swarvoski Elements entitled “Equus” bested 150 other designs to open the company’s international Beijing catwalk show along with designs by Versace and John Paul Gaultier. This builds upon her many other achievements such as her collaboration with Japanese designer Hiroko Koshino for her Spring/Summer 2011 collection shown at the Cite De L’architecture Et Du Patrimoine, Paris, France and having her jewelry grace the cover of British Vogue’s 2010 September issue as worn by Kate Moss, and her recognition by the JC Report and Time Magazine as one of the Top Five Designers of 2008. Despite such global acclaim, Valdez has maintained her operations within the Philippines, wisely choosing to maintain her winning formula of fusing boundless Filipino artisanship with her world-renowned personal aesthetic taste. To asianTraveler Magazine, she reveals what keeps her grounded as she travels the world.
You have brought honor to the Philippines for reaping international recognition for your designs of bags and accessories. You could choose to operate from abroad, yet you still base your workshop here in Manila. Why so?
People presumed that I had moved abroad because it was uncommon at the time for a designer that was still Manila-based to break out in the international market.
But in our team’s minds, there was really nowhere else to be. The most important thing was quality of the workshop, as this is the heart and soul of the business—a place where people come to learn, discover and create together. It is said that it takes 10,000 hours from one to be called an expert at a craft. The words “artisanal work” and “craftsmanship” can only be earnestly merited when the people who are said to make these things truly are growing in skill and expertise.
We would not be able to go as far as we have alone. We bring with us the work that is shared by a community of women who now understand that we all are intimately linked together.
In your personal travels of the Philippines, what has proven to be your most favorite place, and why?
Probably Baguio. My father’s family has been going there since he was a child and we still stay at the very same house each time we have the chance to visit. It is great to come back to a place that holds so many fond memories.
Is there a part of the Philippines you have not gone to yet but wish to see? What is this place? Why do you want to go there?
I’d love to see Vigan, as I have heard many wonderful things about it.
What are your personal travel essentials? What are the objects that you cannot travel without?
Why do you travel? What has traveling brought to your life? How has it contributed to who you are now?
For the most part, when I do travel around the Philippines, it has been with family—and that in itself is enough of an adventure.
For almost a decade, the main reason I travel abroad is for work. And as much as it is about the work, the journey itself is always full of enriching surprises.
I think when I was younger, when we used to travel, I came away with the impression of how amazing other places were. As I’ve gotten older, the more I travel, the more I realize that we are so very lucky to call the Philippines home.
Traveling forces you to change your perspective, makes you confront the world and discover who you are within its vast context and experiences.
We found out that you are also a creative writer. Your website is rich with poetic descriptions of your designs. Were you its writer? Have you ever considered writing about your travels?
My sister is author to most of the website and I realize now that all of us in my family enjoy writing.
I did use to write about some of my travels, when I worked for a magazine and the lifestyle section of a newspaper, though they were probably more misadventures and meanderings.
As a designer, you are actually traveling all the time, although not always physically. I’ve always said that my first language is visual. When I am inspired by a certain place or culture, what I have to say about it, what I’ve taken from its landscape or history comes out in our visual language of needle and thread. In our own way, our pieces are postcards that we share of the many journeys I’ve taken—real or imagined.