Toots Magsino’s Art-Filled Life

Toots  in her happy place, working at her studio. (Photo by Dan  Magsino ; Styling by Bob  Magsino)

Toots in her happy place, working at her studio. (Photo by Dan Magsino; Styling by Bob Magsino)

When Filipina artist Toots Magsino returned to the Philippines from the vibrancy of New York City in 2010, she had a blank canvas ahead of her. Being extremely successful with art exhibitions and group shows around the globe including the United States, Italy, Japan, Canada and the Philippines, Toots returned to family in Manila and was basically beginning anew. A mix of emotions pervaded within her, consisting of both excitement and fear.

“The decade I was in New York proved to be such fertile ground for experimentation and deep learning,” says Toots. “My art grew in ways that I could never have imagined.”

"The Sky's the Limit," by Toots Magsino, mixed media collage on collage, watercolor paper, 16x24, 2013

"The Sky's the Limit," by Toots Magsino, mixed media collage on collage, watercolor paper, 16x24, 2013

With time, Toots adjusted to her life back in Manila. Coming from a big family of five girls and five boys, Toots had the support of loving parents and siblings. With her move back home she had a general idea of what she wanted to achieve.

“I vowed to myself that I would only do something if it were somehow related to art. I didn’t want my art education and experience to go to waste by taking just any kind of job, even if it paid well. I’ve always wanted my art to count for something,” she emphasizes.

A 1992 graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University with a BA in Communication Arts and Pyschology, Toots went on to study at The Art Students League of New York for eight years, completing a double four-year program in Fine Arts Painting and Printmaking. In time, her lessons and experiences in New York prompted her to consider teaching.

In March 2011, Toots began teaching collage to students at Carewell, a non-profit organization that provides support, education and free resources and services to cancer patients and their loved ones. The joy and sense of belonging that her students get from the classes are incalculable.  

Toots teaching collage at the cancer wellness center, the Carewell Foundation (Photo courtesy of Toots Magsino)

Toots teaching collage at the cancer wellness center, the Carewell Foundation (Photo courtesy of Toots Magsino)

“I really enjoy teaching because it gives me a chance to share my love for art,” Toots says. “From the start, my students were so receptive and so thankful for anything and everything I could teach them. It definitely didn’t feel like a job. Early on, they helped me realize that I was meant to be a teacher. I loved being able to share my art knowledge and experience with them.”

Colorful and joyful personalities fill Toots’ Carewell experience. The collage classes provide cancer patients the opportunity to look beyond their circumstances and experience the delight that artistic expression can furnish. Students have something unique to showcase individually, as they base much of their finished projects on their current thoughts and emotions. The art becomes an uplifting activity for many of them.

While there are joyful days, there are also times of sorrow. Toots has had to say goodbye to two of her wonderful students at Carewell, both of whom she remembers for their positive attitude toward life. Rose Arzadon was a sprightly, life-of-the-party kind of woman, and Chit Robertson exhibited a warm and loving personality. Both women are sorely missed by Toots and the Carewell family. 

Following the success of her initial Carewell classes, in May 2011 Toots went on to offer eight-session Saturday classes to anyone interested in learning the art of collage. From then on more people were given the opportunity to experience collage as a means of creative self-expression.


“Through the years, I’ve had the privilege of introducing many groups of students to the wonderful world of collage,” Toots says excitedly. “It has always been my clear goal to educate more people about new art mediums aside from oil and watercolor painting, drawing and sculpture.”

The feedback from Toots’ collage students has been inspiring:

"The course opened up a new world of creativity and art-making for me. It more than met my expectations. I really didn't expect to gain this much more information and know-how.” – Angie Salanio, graduate, The Art of Collage parts 1&2

Angie Salanio, watercolor artist (Photo courtesy of Toots Magasino)

Angie Salanio, watercolor artist (Photo courtesy of Toots Magasino)

"Intimidation to inspiration. That's my journey into the art of collage. I use my stuff or everyday found objects to The mental stimulation was deliriously addictive. Can't wait for the next engagement with Toots!” - Vicki Aldaba, graduate, The Art of Collage 1&2, Continuing Ed. Student

Vicki Aldaba, independent consultant (Photo courtesy of Toots Magsino)

Vicki Aldaba, independent consultant (Photo courtesy of Toots Magsino)

"The first thing I noticed is that Toots has such respect for her craft. It's almost sacred. You can see it with the way she touches, cuts, rips and pastes each piece onto the canvas. She pauses, ever so slightly, before touching it and proceeding with what she envisions—as if she is silently asking for permission from the materials to take part in the creations she had in mind. That’s when I knew I’d be in good hands with her as my teacher." - Nicole Romero, graduate, Beginners Collage for Adults

Nicole Romero , free-lance beauty writer and editor (Photo courtesy of Toots Magsino)

Nicole Romero , free-lance beauty writer and editor (Photo courtesy of Toots Magsino)

Her growing love and passion for teaching have not distracted Toots from her other calling as an artist. She ensures that she is able to balance the two in order to create a more holistic career. “My time is divided because I am both a working artist and an art educator,” she says. “I am constantly trying to figure out the most efficient way to have the best of both worlds.”

In August 2014, Toots also started her own personal blog at Called “Cut and Paste,” it is where she shares her collages and her thoughts on life and art. “I don’t feel any pressure about sharing too much, or too little, or nothing at all. I like the idea that it’s now a work-in-progress. It’s a place I call my own,” she reiterates.

Toots is excited about the possibilities of art in the Philippines and the positive things that she continues to fill her life with. Most importantly though is the human connections that she is able to savor.

“There is something about sharing a love for art that really creates a special language and bond between people. My students become my friends, and I am forever grateful for the richness they bring to my life.”

Watch the video on Toots Magsino’s work:

Toots teaches a number of independent classes:
1. The Art of Collage Part 1, open to all levels (on-going eight-week course on Saturdays)
2. The Art of Collage Part 2 (required pre-requisite: Part 1)
3. Private collage Classes/ Collage Parties (individual and group classes upon request)

For more information:; 0920-9647913
4. Collage for cancer patients and volunteers at the CAREWELL foundation (every Thursday, 10-12 noon)
5. Upcoming Collage Classes for Adults at MAGIS Creative Spaces, located in The Learning Child School, Alabang. For updates:

acebook page:

Serina Aidadani

Serina Aidadani

Serina Aidasani divides her time between New York and Chicago. She enjoys deep conversations, mocha lattes and tries to appreciate little joys of the everyday.

More from Serina Aidasani:

Success By Design
October 6, 2014
Joyce Peñas Pilarsky creates designs from her knowledge of the Philippines and its history.