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Inside Jas & Allan Ancheta's Alabang Home-Turned-"Cabinet Of Curiosities"

Jas and Allan Ancheta are on a mission. While Jas heads her own interior design company, husband Allan works with a pharmaceutical firm. But, their mission has to do with art––specifically, making the collecting of it more personal. It’s about promoting art that speaks to the collector, and not just mired in status––warranting bragging rights via heavyweight names and provenance, or relating the worth of a piece directly to its acquisition price.


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Jas and Allan Ancheta beside the work of one of the artists they’re promoting.


For Allan, that’s a vulgar element of the reality of art today, here in the Philippines. It may be an offshoot of how we’re a relatively developing, still immature market; but both Jas and Allan feel the time is ripe to bring about the subtle changes which may help mature the market––to help democratize and rationalize art collecting. In order to achieve this, they’ve taken a two-pronged approach that, one, seeks to develop and promote deserving artists who just aren’t considered "commercial;" and two, creates opportunities and venues for said under-appreciated art to be viewed, and find its market.


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To achieve this, a unique business model was required––something both Jas and Allan arrived at after traveling the world, visiting galleries, museums, and art fairs, and talking to the people behind them. Rather than putting up a gallery in a mall or commercial establishment, where fixed overheads necessitate certain markups and margins that spell survival, the Anchetas converted their home into a "cabinet of curiosities," rechristening their 64 Canterbury, Hillsborough, Alabang address as "The Cabinet at Canterbury." And this references the old meaning of "cabinet" where it describes a whole room. Doing this allowed them to be more liberal in terms of pricing, which helps their cause of democratizing the acquisition of art for their patrons and followers.


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Corners and nooks of their Cabinet at Canterbury, to be found at 64 Canterbury St., Hillsborough Alabang. Works of the unheralded artists they’re championing.


There are basically two clusters of artists that The Cabinet at Canterbury is pushing. The first cluster comprises artists in their 40s––generally, artists who, out of economic necessity, previously placed their artistic bents on the back-burner, but are now rekindling that passion. The second cluster is for those still in their 20s, the ones dedicated to their craft, and hoping to make a career out of their passion. The common link between these two clusters is how their art has "spoken" to Jas and Allan, and while they may be award-winners, these artists have been deemed un-commercial. The art world can be a cruel one, where established names command all the auction house and gallery attention. It's the talent of these unsung artists, coupled with the Anchetas' business model, that has allowed them to champion said artists.


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The website is one opportunity to learn more about the couple's initiative, and to peruse the long list of artists they represent; and for this Design Week, there will be a pop-up this Sunday (April 28) at the Manila Peninsula gallery, found on the 3rd floor of the hotel. 


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That Jas is an interior designer is no coincidence. She stresses how quite often, art is acquired without any real appreciation nor consideration of how it can be integrated into one’s household or office. This is where the couple's art initiative could be considered different and unique; as Jas is always ready to help advise and suggest the integration of a piece into a space. Sometimes it can be as simple as changing the frame, or it can just be a matter of positioning and lighting. 


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Jas and Allan have a long history of collecting and appreciating art: Allan’s father used to work with the Design Center of the Philppines, and Allan’s lolo, Isidro, was a contemporary of Manansala. But for the couple, it's about making their own little contribution to the development and maturing of art acquisition here in the Philippines.


Photographs by Philip Cu-Unjieng