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At home, around the world: The Dizons of A2A |

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At home, around the world: The Dizons of A2A

SOUND AND THE FURY - Raymond Ang - The Philippine Star
At home, around the world: The Dizons of A2A

Out of Africa: Binky Dizon and Tracie Anglo-Dizon, the couple behind A2A, are celebrating 15 years of their luxury travel company this year. “We don’t even count. It’s longer pa than our marriage,” Tracie says. Photos by Kitkat Pajaro


Tracie Anglo-Dizon’s home is about 10 minutes away from Fort Bonifacio’s Sarsa, the first branch of the popular Negrenese restaurant she runs with her brother, JP Anglo. But to find yourself in the warm, multicultural — multi-textural — confines of the Dizon home in Taguig is to find yourself a world away from the concrete confines of Bonifacio Global City.

Which shouldn’t be a surprise, if anyone knows anything about getting away from it all, trust that it’s Tracie and her husband Binky Dizon, the couple behind A2A, the luxury travel company that famously brings curious travelers from Asia to Africa.

“Do you want anything? Coffee? Tea?” Tracie asks, walking down the stairs of her home — giant zebra skin gracefully draped on the banister—welcoming us into their home.

Wearing a black modal voile top by the young local designer Carl Jan Cruz—a cool, interesting choice for anyone but most especially for a mother of two with two and a half businesses under her belt—she cuts a casually elegant figure in black.

The Dizon home is a bit of an assault to the senses, in all the best ways possible. It’s a well-designed, well-traveled home—colourful pillows from a market in Peru (“we love markets”), an elegant tea set from Africa (“this was just being sold on the road”), the giant Zebra skin.

“That’s ethically-sourced,” she says. “It doesn’t have any bullet [holes], if you look at it… Never buy a zebra with bullet holes. ‘Ethically sourced’ means it died naturally. This one is huge so that means this zebra lived a long while and nothing major happened to him, which is really rare. You can tell a lot based on how the skin looks.”

Before she worked with her husband on A2A, before they moved from Singapore to Manila to help her brother on Sarsa, Tracie was a graphic designer who had clocked serious time in Conde Nast as a promotions designer. And while she’s never seriously pursued it, painting is a lifelong passion. (“Manuel Ocampo is so supportive,” she says, showing us a print the acclaimed artist gave her. “He told me to keep painting.”)

True to form, Tracie and Binky have an interesting art collection. On the walls of the living room are prints, paintings, collages, and illustrations by artists ranging from the internationally renowned (Yayoi Kusama, Hugo Guinness) to the local (Manuel Ocampo, Bernardo Pacquing) and underrated (Jacob Lindo). Holding the room together, overlooking the dining table is a huge Federico Aguilar Alcuaz tapestry from the 1960s. “On permanent loan from my father-in-law,” she says.

And the tea she was offering us earlier? “It’s rooibos tea from South Africa.”

A2A officially began in Hong Kong, in 2002, with Binky and his business partner Litlit Cortez setting up shop in Litlit’s garage. But it really began in 1997, when they traveled to Africa for a vacation. “We enjoy traveling,” he says, “[but] when we got there, I thought, ‘Wow, what took us so long to go to this place?’ At that point, I had been to all the continents… So we started going back every year. We became addicts.”

Soon, they wanted to share the experience. “We’d take our friends. They’d ask, ‘What’s so great about the experience?’ And I’d say, ‘Come, I’ll show you! This is really something special.’”

Binky fell hard enough for Africa that when he found himself burned out as a banker in London, he took a six-month sabbatical and worked as a conservationist there. “I worked for free as a conversationist — actually, you pay to work because you have to pay for board and lodging,” Binky says. “We worked on a wildlife reserve. We worked with scientists. We were capturing animals, testing for diseases, doing anti-poaching patrols. There were some species there that hadn’t been introduced so we would tranquilize them to take them out. It was a pretty amazing experience… We lived in the barracks and we would all pile in to the back of a truck to go to work. It was life-changing.”

“That’s why I fell in love with him!” Tracie says, laughing.

“When we met, he said he had to leave for Africa — and there was no signal in Africa,” Tracie adds. “For three weeks, not even a single text message. I said, ‘Forget it! I’m gonna dump this guy! He doesn’t care about me.’ I couldn’t believe that there was a place na walang signal, di ba?”

“She didn’t believe me!” Binky says.





“When we met, he hadn’t even started [A2A yet],” Tracie says. “They were just laying the groundwork. I thought it was so cool, what they were doing.”

Initially, Binky and Litlit were interested in buying wildlife property in Africa and building a camp. Upon the recommendation of their broker though, they started to see things from a different perspective. “He said, you know, if you have a lot of clients in Asia, why build your own? I know a lot of people who have really good camps but they don’t have guests. Rather than build another camp, partner with them and direct your clients to these guys,” Binky recounts. “That’s really how our company started.”

Tracie eventually became A2A’s first employee. “Certainly, I was the first employee in Singapore, and I was the only one for like five years,” she says. “Because he’s a banker. I had to kind of man the shop, so to speak, for five years by myself.”

“We had a team in Hong Kong and a team in the Philippines but I was the only one in Singapore,” Tracie continues. “And then he finally already quit banking, and that’s when we started focusing on the Singapore business. So now we have an office there. How long has A2A been? Fifteen years now? We don’t even count. It’s longer pa than our marriage.”

How did a couple who curates unforgettable travel experiences for a living honeymoon? “We went to Zimbabwe and I actually thought we were gonna die!” Tracie says. “We went to this camp in Lake Kariba, this eerie lake with dead trees sticking out of it. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen… There were black rhinos, which are very rare, just on the beach, strolling. Can you imagine a place like that?”

“We were living on houseboats. There was a mothership and the mothership was like the lobby. So each person, your room is a houseboat. So each person, has to take a canoe. So akala ko parang Disney,” she says, laughing at her own naivety. “Yun pala grabe yung crocodiles and hippos sa lake! Hindi naman kami magaling mag canoe!”

“And they tell me, oh Tracie, be careful because the number one killer of humans in Africa are hippos… I said, we’re gonna die, right? And he joked, he’s like ‘Oh it’s fine. We still have a few minutes.’ And I thought, ‘I never thought I would die on my own honeymoon!’”

Needless to say, the Dizons survived their honeymoon. “And needless to say, that camp closed after a year,” Tracie says. “That was definitely an unforgettable honeymoon!”


Today, A2A has expanded to offer other experiences, growing from Africa to South America. “Our motto has always been, we do one thing but we do it well,” Binky says. “The idea for expansion  didn’t come from us. We have a lot of clients who are repeaters. They come to us and say, ‘Do you guys have other places where we can have a similar experience? You know, wilderness area but you’re very comfortable, unique experiences with nature and people.’ And we thought about it and we kept getting it again and again,” he says.

“We don’t just go to Africa. Obviously, we travel for our own personal pleasure as well… We traveled to South America. We had been to a few places there but we started traveling more there. We dug deeper into South America and there are a lot of these places,” he says. “You have Iguazu Falls, Patagonia, Galapagos—there are a lot of these iconic wilderness areas.”

What can someone expect from the A2A experience? “I hate to use words like ‘curated’ or ‘bespoke,’” Tracie says, “but it’s really tailored to what you like. For example, you want to go to Africa and you have an interest in birds—an interest that not many people have but say, you do—we’ll take you to places where you’ll see a lot of birds. If you’re only interested in the big five—which is the five big predators—that’s easier.”

“I think what we do is we bring you to places where you will have an authentic, high quality experience with excellent guiding. I think that’s what we really do. I think, for me, the guides can change it. Depending on who’s taking you, the experience can become so rich,” she says. “We dig deep.”

“I think the word is a ‘discerning’ traveler,” she continues. “You’re not just a tourist. You’re looking for immersive journeys, life-changing journeys.” As an example, she cites a city like Lima. “Like me, I like pottery. I found the potter of Jonathan Adler, the one who makes [for them]—that’s the kind of thing that we do. ‘I want to meet her. I want to know who she is.’ We’ll take you. Let’s say, ‘I want to learn how to make ceviche.’ So we hook you up with a chef. We do things like that.”

The Dizons are a well-traveled bunch, but even the well-traveled have dream destinations. “We’ve never been to Russia,” Binky says. “I love spy novels so that’s my dream.”

Tracie agrees. “There are many places that we haven’t discovered yet,” she says. “But that’s what’s cool, right? To always look forward to something? Just to know that there are so many places on earth that you haven’t been.”

And as long as there are places on earth they haven’t been, as long as there are places on Earth as beautiful and thrilling as that honeymoon lake in Zimbabwe, you can be sure that the Dizons will have their bags packed, their passports ready, and a new adventure on the horizon.

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