‘Don’t forget fashion when covering Mindanao’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 July) — Being located way down south of the country, Mindanao is undeniably perceived as a backwater when it comes to fashion. This common notion, however, opens the idea that there is so much to be discovered about this southern region when it comes to style and design.

Stylist and fashion writer Luis Espiritu nailed it when he said that Mindanao hasn’t been written about a lot in terms of fashion, and this has adverse effects when it comes to cultural preservation. Espiritu is also a design instructor in School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA) in Manila.

During Abreeza Mall’s first Fashion Forum (scheduled to be a monthly discussion on lifestyle and trends), Espiritu said that coverage on Mindanao should also include myriad ideas in fashion because these are getting lost in translation, or sometimes never find themselves written in history.

The fashion academe agreed. “So far Marian Pastor Roces’ Sinaunang Habi Philippine Ancestral Weave is the most comprehensive to date,” said Emi Englis, fashion educator at the Philippine Women’s College of Davao. Englis said there isn’t much literature on Mindanao fashion.

“Mindanao is always unheard of because it is way down south, and many people think it will never be as cosmopolitan as Manila,” Espiritu said. “But what they don’t know is that Mindanao is a trove of hidden treasures!”

Espiritu was in Davao to oversee the Style Origin shows staged in Abreeza over the weekend. The signature Ayala Malls fashion campaign included the Mensweek Fashion Show directed by Ariel Lozada and the Community Fashion Show directed by Jackie Aquino. The show’s spotlight focused on ready-to-wear pieces by renowned Manila designers and runway outfits ready for everyday.

He said that lifestyle journalists and bloggers should look into collaborating with designers to develop and modernize locally-sourced fabrics and indigenous materials. “We have a big problem in the philippines on preservation of culture and tradition,” he said, citing weaving as an example. “Most of the current generation now have no idea about the meanings of the design process involved and patterns weaved in Mindanao fabrics.”

“I think maybe if there was enough research and funding to create and develop contemporary textiles and design into indigenous materials, we can create strong foundations for cultural preservation. What Mindanao has can be globally exemplified!”

“There’s so much culture that needs to be saved,” Espiritu pointed out.

The facets of Mindanao fashion–whether it’s the rolls of hand-woven T’nalak of the T’boli, and the intricate bead works of the B’laan; or the contemporary designs sketched by fashion students in Davao–are not a fleeting trend. (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)