With big dreams about promoting and saving local Filipino culture, Paloma Urquijo Zobel passionately launches clothing line, PIOPIO. She has always had an eye for design and is even interested in urban planning but this time around Paloma takes more of a role in the brand’s marketing and strategy planning, proudly molding this newly opened concept.

The brand is all about local artisans, fabrics and our country’s rich history and great potential. Each piece is born out of its fabric. All their materials are sourced locally from their team road trips around the country where they go to different communities to meet local artisans.

Paloma tells us all about PIOPIO – get the scoop in the interview below!

What is the concept behind PIOPIO? How did it start?

PIOPIO was actually born from a bigger project called Kalye Artisano. Over a year ago, we started conversations with designer Tony Gonzales about getting a group together to build a vibrant, fun artistic community, an artisan village in Palawan. A year later, our vision started to become a reality. Kalya Artisano will be a part of Lio in El Nido, Palawan. It will include a Filipino retail area, artist workshops and a strip of bed and breakfasts uniquely designed by Filipino artists and architects to offer people a new immersive experience.

My mother has always been a huge promoter of handicrafts. When we teamed up to start designing Kalye Artisano and our PIOPIO bed and breakfast, she began taking me to these wonderful communities of artists and weavers who were creating incredibly intricate, beautiful pieces. While her mind was focused on home-ware, mine quickly shifted to clothing.

I had been noticing this amazing surge in local, and Filipino pride from my age group and quickly saw an opportunity to join in on the movement. I wanted to offer an alternative use for these beautiful fabrics like Inabel. So in September after finishing my Masters degree in London, I moved back to the Philippines for good to concentrate on PIOPIO and Kalye Artisano.

Why the name PIOPIO?

The company in mainly based in El Nido (Spanish for the nest) and my name Paloma means dove in Spanish and PIOPIO is the Spanish onomatopoeia for the sound a bird makes ( i.e tweet tweet.)

What made you want to incorporate the Philippines into your brand?

Our long-term goal is to create a movement where traditional Filipino arts will be reinstated to a level of importance where they once were. Obviously this is a big aspiration but its something that keeps us motivated and working hard every day. Apart from the people, art and heritage are what give a country its character and charm. The problem today, is that a lot of the local arts use techniques that have been passed down for generations, that a lot of the youth see as outdated and antiquated. We live in a time of instant gratification and 3D printing… so you can see why sitting on a loom and weaving a blanket for a month may not be very attractive to many. We are trying hard to get the youth excited about the fabrics and techniques again by showing them how they can still be relevant in today’s world. With less than a thousand looms left in the Philippines today, I think my generation will be responsible for the fall or the rise of some these traditional arts.

Who are your partners? Who conceptualizes the clothes?

I have an amazing team, Ina Estacio and Therese Tiosejo. We constantly bounce ideas off each other and we all have different sources where we find inspiration, which makes it even more fun when we all come together to brainstorm at the table. We try to do monthly road trips (PIOPIO migration) to discover new communities of artisans. Ina takes the lead in formalizing all designs and making our vision a reality.

Paloma and her team are extremely hands on and passionate about showing the world how incredible The Philippines are and that there is so much promise in our future. Check out PIOPIO’s main store, which will be in Kalye Artisano, Lio, Palawan and keep updated on when their next pop-up stores will open by checking out @piopio_ph on Instagram.