Tastemaker Tracie Anglo-Dizon: What Goes on in the Life of a Travel Director
Tracie is a lot of things to different people—juggling many different hats depending on the time and on the day—though she’s best known to the public as the travel director for A2A, a luxury travel company, and creative director for Sarsa, the popular restaurant helmed by her brother, chef JP Anglo. In between, she finds time to do a bit of graphic design for coffee-table books and even dabbles in another lifelong passion, painting.
Tracie grew up in Bacolod and went to Manila for college, but only two weeks after graduation, found herself in New York, looking for a school where she could really study what she wanted. “Imagine, I was only 19, a small-town girl. And New York was so intimidating…everyone was wearing black! It was the pre-Giuliani era, so NYC was still kinda dangerous,’’ she recalls. She enrolled at Parsons School of Design to study Communication Design (“It encompasses everything, not just graphics”). Right before graduating, someone from Conde Nast noticed Tracie’s work at one of the school’s yearly student shows and offered her a job as a promotions designer. “That was my first job, it was really good. I would do their material for events and charities,” Tracie says. It had other perks: “Our offices were directly below Vogue’s, so it was fabulous! We’d go up every time there was a closet sale. It started my addiction to clothes, which is terrible. It’s terrible!” she jokes.
Even if you have bad taste, or it is perceived to be bad, at least you still have taste. You know what it is? It is being true to who you are. That is what’s important.
Tracie moved on to do graphic design for other companies, including Kim Hastreiter’s Paper magazine and freelanced for the then-fledgling RadicalMedia group; she believes she would have stayed forever in the city if not for one life-changing event: 9/11. “Would you believe, my mom was visiting me when it happened. We were both terrified, and I was home by the 18th.”
A commissioned work in progress
It didn’t take long for Tracie to sort out her life. Back in Manila, she was hired as Preview magazine’s first creative director, but then a blind date led to another change in direction. She met Binky Dizon, who at the time had left his career in banking and had just returned from a sabbatical in Africa. Together with Jose Cortez, Binky started A2A (then known as Asia to Africa Safaris) as a passion project. “I wasn’t always interested in Africa, but on our honeymoon, we went to Zimbabwe, and that
Since A2A’s founding, the number of Filipino travelers to Africa has grown exponentially; A2A has since expanded its offerings to include South America and Antarctica. Contrary to expectations, when it comes to luxe getaways, South America is still behind Africa, but it’s catching up, says Tracie. “A lot of what we do is
Tracie’s travel outlook may be global, but her palate is tuned very close to home. With Sarsa, she’s helping more people discover the joys of Ilonggo cuisine. “It reflects where we are from, and how we are proud of it. If we don’t, all these Ilonggos will kill us! Ilonggos are so hard to please. We said we better not screw up the food,” she says. Though Sarsa’s been a runaway success, Tracie and her brother have gone back to the drawing board to offer an even more authentic experience. “We’re going to re-do a few things, change the menu, launch a new logo, a few things. That’s what keeps me busy now at Sarsa. It’s a different world. I recently went to Siargao to learn about JP’s passion, surfing. It really blew my mind. So you’ll see some of these elements incorporated in the new Sarsa. Now, I really understand my brother. Surfing culture is really a big part of it. I never understood it until I went. Now I get it!”
On the subject of personal taste, Tracie paraphrases the quote by Arnold Bennett: “Bad taste is better than no taste.” She says, “Even if you have bad taste, or it is perceived to be bad, at least you still have
Source of inspiration?
Culture and nature.
Greatest professional influence?
The late Henry Wolf. He was the art director of Esquire, Bazaar, and Show in the 1950s and ’60s. He was my teacher and taught me about conceptual design and how to think out of the box.
There are many beautiful stores in the world but I do have a thing for markets–flea or otherwise: Marché Paul Bert Serpette (in the Paris flea market), Dover Street Market everywhere, and markets in India, Morocco, and Latin America. 1stdibs, online.
A good pantsuit. It can be dressed up or down, worn separately, and hide a multitude of sins.
Favorite designers and shops?
Univers in Manila, and all the markets abroad (Dover Street Market, Le Bon Marché, and flea markets in Paris, India, Zambia, Buenos Aires and Mexico). 1stdibs online to ogle at furniture.
Can we all name someone cooler than Sofia Coppola? I also love Yasmin Sewell and Gabriela Hearst. I admire the textile designer Carolina Irving’s interiors style–she’s the ultimate mix master.
Your idea of the perfect home?
Original, individual, and intimate.
Framed art and travel mementos in Tracie's home
Must-have item in any home?
nowness.com, New York Times T magazine.
Who do you follow on Twitter/Instagram?
On Instagram, I follow a lot of accounts! Ashley Hicks, Conde Nast Traveler, Hugo Guinness, Miguel Flores Vianna, Gagosian Gallery and many others. I’m visual, so I like following good-looking accounts.
Pleats, please, in all shapes and colors (sharp and indestructible as travel staples). A pair of binoculars (a must on safari) and a killer itinerary.
Tracie in Mexico
Place you've never been, but would like most to visit?
Istanbul. Every time we plan to go something always happens and we never end up going. Maybe in 2018!
Most memorable trip?
Every African safari is always memorable. But my most memorable trip this past year was Cuba: profound, romantic, melancholic, and just way cool.
Weekly massages at home; half-a-pastry (so half-the-guilt) for breakfast; dark chocolate after lunch or dinner.
Alas, fashion, a depreciating asset. And maintaining the highlights on my hair. It takes a village!
Tracie's work desk
Itamae-sans (Japanese sushi chefs) and my brother, of course.
I haven’t met a sushi bar I didn’t like, but in Tokyo, Sushi Iwa, Yoshitake, Jiro, and Shinji Kanesaka; in Manila, Tsumura. For teppanyaki, Ukai Tei in Tokyo. And, Sarsa, of course, for a taste of home.
What would your last meal on earth be?
What else? Sushi. Preferably by Jiro.
Writer or book?
Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela. I’ve recently discovered Dominick Dunne (a few decades late) so I’m currently reading all his books.
Most treasured possession?
If you had 24 hours to take someone around your hometown, Bacolod, where would you go?
We would have breakfast at Pendy’s, then head out to Salvador Benedicto, where my parents have a rest house. We’d have lunch there and show them around the area before heading back to Bacolod for some shopping at Negros Showroom. On the way to Silay airport, we’ll visit my old friend Chell Lacson’s new B&B called German
Issues and causes that you advocate?
I’m passionate about social justice and wildlife conservation.
Words to live by?
Pay it forward.
This story was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Town&Country.