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    Arnel Papa’s exquisite jewelry designs have found their way to fashion capitals in Europe and the United States.  His bold and beautiful masterpieces have been featured in glossy international fashion magazines, and have been worn by celebrities like Tessa Prieto Valdez, Ruffa Gutierrez, and Tingting Cojuangco.

    Although he has attained international recognition for his work, Arnel still continues to create his craft from his hometown in Marilao, Bulacan where he lives with his family.  Here he talks about his work, his Marilao, and his SM.


    Well-known Jewelry Designer Arnel Papa with SM’s Millie Dizon at the launch of My City, My SM at SM City Marilao.

    Manila Bulletin:  How did you start designing jewelry?

    Arnel Papa:  “At first, we only supplied exporters with components like coco beads, carabao horns, carabao nails, and copper to bags and belts for export.  I met my first buyer from Europe from a client who initially wanted to buy beads, and then brought their main jewelry designer to the Philippines.  That’s how I started to export jewelry.  My first collections were made from carabao horn.”

    MB:  Where do you get inspirations for your designs?

     Arnel:  “I first gather my materials and from there, I am able to conceptualize my designs.  I source my materials like buffalo horns and nails, different kinds of shells like mother of pearl, copper, silver, and brass locally.  Some of the semi-precious stones are sourced abroad.

    Our jewelry is all hand made.  We have around 100 workers making pieces for our store and our job order from Europe and the United States.  We have photos of our designs from which they can choose.  Some will bring their own materials and ask us to make a design for them.”


    Enjoying a good conversation with sister Meliza Papa-Mauricio and brother Arnold Papa over coffee at Country Style in SM City Marilao.


    Arnel Papa frequents SM City Marilao, which is a stone’s throw away from their house, to shop and unwind. Seen here checking out the latest at Our Home.

    MB:  Have you always been based in Marilao?

    Arnel:  “Our family used to be based in Sampaloc, Manila, but has since made Marilao our home.

    We used to be engaged in the telephone business with franchises to serve the areas of Meycauayan, Marilao, and Sta, Maria in Bulacan.  My parents soon put up a poultry and piggery business, and decided to stay in Bulacan.

    At first we would only spend our vacations here, but my parents liked its fresh air, quiet surroundings, and warm people.  We now consider Marilao our hometown.”


    MB:  If you would bring guests around Bulacan, where would you bring him?

    Arnel:  “Bulacan is rich with history, and I would bring guests around sites like the Barasoian Church, the site of the first Philippine republic.  I would also show them our exquisite crafts like the singkaban and buntal hats, and let them taste our delicacies like the pastilles and puto.”


    Arnel brings guests to historical sites in Bulacan like the Barasoain Church, the site of the First Philippine Republic.


    MB:  How has SM changed Marilao?

    Arnel:  “As it has in other parts of the country, SM has brought progress to Marilao, Bulacan.  It is a well-known fact that where there is an SM, trade and commerce booms in the town or city.

    After SM was built in Marilao, subdivisions and commercial buildings were built around it.  Local entrepreneurs now have also more business opportunities, as they can now also do business with SM.

    Families and friends also got closer because they now have a perfect place to meet and have dinner or coffee, or watch movies together.  Even business associates now have a more convenient venue for meetings.  SM has definitely given life to Marilao and the rest of Bulacan.”


    MB:  What do you like doing at SM?

    Arnel:  “I am at SM Marilao almost everyday.  It gives me a place to unwind and shop. The best thing is that it’s only a few minutes away from my home.  That makes it a lot more convenient for me, and saves me a lot of money for gas as I don’t have to travel far to shop for my needs or meet with my friends and business associates.

    My family and friends also hang out a lot in SM.  Aside from being a great venue for meetings, I find it easy to shop for my needs at SM.  I go there when I need to send orders from clients from abroad via FedEx, shop for raw materials like glue and hardware supplies.  It is really very convenient as I know exactly where to buy what I need at SM, where I get my groceries and things for my home.”


    For Arnel, SM has brought progress to Marilao, Bulacan and local entrepreneurs enjoy more business opportunities when it opened.