To friends of Filipino filmmakers Shireen Seno and John Torres, visiting 59 Mahabagin Street before February of 2011 would have been called “hanging out at John and Shireen’s place”. Now, John and Shireen’s place is an independent screening room and boutique called As In Shop.
Before you decide to stop reading and dismiss that name on account of how strange it sounds, know that it began as a joke. If it still doesn’t translate (read: it still sounds…strange [because you are a snark]), think of it the way you would consider calling a SoHo boutique “The Like, Literally Store”– a name you may not take too seriously, but you also have to admit has its charms because of how well it sticks.
“I didn’t think of a name, basically!” shares Seno, the owner and shopkeep of this little cabinet of wonder. “Everything I came up with wasn’t cool enough, and I was just joking around by calling it ‘As In…Shop’, until I figured I was onto something,” she says with a warm laugh.
The idea to open a store came while she was waiting for word on an upcoming film project. “I wasn’t doing anything at the time, and I had wanted to start a shop when I first came to the Philippines. I love to travel and find stuff wherever I go, and I figure that other people might like the stuff I like, so I figured I’d go out and find more,” says Seno.
Cheap flights around the region and some added funding from her mom have helped her add to her collection, which includes handcrafted jewelry from Laos and the Philippines, notebooks from Japan, and clothing from Thailand, turning As In Shop into a lucrative means to curate her experiences as a global citizen. Seno was raised in Japan by Filipino parents, who have since relocated to the United States. She attended an international school in Tokyo and studied Architecture first, and then film. This is what brought her back to the Philippines, where her fascination with both the visual and the visceral would eventually come full circle.
As for her aesthetic, this is something upon which Seno’s years of living in Japan have left their indelible mark. “I’m really picky about things. I like minimalist details, interesting materials, and things you don’t usually find.” Most of the pieces at As In illustrate this fastidious attention to detail, with labels like vintage deadstock and one-of-a-kind. This gives browsing around the store an ephemeral quality and a nagging sense that if you don’t buy something now, you may never see it again: a sense one usually gets while traveling.
“We already had this space, it was just matter of figuring out what to do with it.” So far, the shop has been making the most of its Teacher’s Village address and proximity to both the academic and creative community. It has been a venue for independent film screenings alongside the alternative merchandising scheme, with plans to host music shows in the not-so-distant future. “What sets this apart is the homey feel. It’s all me–I mean, it is my home.”
Visit As In Shop online