Neo-Ethnic Dresses Worn in Miss Universe Shines at Manila FAME

Placing the spotlight on Mindanaon arts, Manila FAME, the country’s premier lifestyle and design event, will showcase the gowns worn by Miss Universe contestants during one of the competition’s ancillary events in Davao last January 19. The Mindanao One-Fashion exhibit will feature the neo-ethnic dresses from April 21 to April 23, 2017 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City, Metro Manila.

The garments, designed by the nine Davao-based members of the Davao Fashion and Design Council Foundation Inc. (DFDCFI) and three Stellar Mindanao Young Designers Competition winners, incorporate traditionally woven cloths with contemporary aesthetics to introduce the artistry and heritage of the Bagobo Tagabawa tribe. Two authentic costumes from the tribe will also be featured as part of the exhibit.

“Protecting, preserving, and promoting the distinct arts and crafts from across all regions is one of the core values of CITEM. Through Manila FAME, we want to highlight the amazing creations of our brothers and sisters from Mindanao. We want them to be recognized for their dedication to their craft and the support they give to the weavers of Lubogan in Toril, Davao City,” said Claire Tugonon, Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions’ (CITEM’s) Executive Director.

Cultural elements from the Bagobo textile tradition were imbued in the gowns using a variety of techniques such as digital sublimation, laser cutting, hand painting, and beading, and includes elements from the T’boli and T’nalak weaving. The collection pays homage to the personal adornment, virtuous character, social rank and power, and a testimony of ritual and wealth distinct to the Bagobo Tagabawa’s costumes.

Designers Alfonso Guino-o, Aztec Barba, Bamba Limon, Benjie Panizales, Dodjie Batu, Edgar Buyan, Egay Ayag, Emi Englis, Lala Chua, Neil Jimlani, Wilson Limon, and Windell Mira takes inspiration from flora and fauna, ritual destinations, indigenous symbols, artisans, and mythical figures that form the Bagobo culture and identity as a tribe.

The Mindanao ONE brand, a brainchild of globally recognized Mindanaoan designer Ann Tiukinhoy Pamintuan, aims to support the livelihood of the diverse indigenous, Islamized, and Christian artisans across the Southern Philippines through its unified pro. Mindanao ONE plans the debut of lifestyle and home accent products in the near future.

“The project engagement will help pave the way for Davao designers to be finally recognized for their work. Through this, we want to introduce a fresh perspective by engaging with local traditional artisans, specifically with the Bagobo women of Lubogan in Toril, Davao City,” said Emi Englis, designer and secretary of the DFDCFI.

“Through this partnership, we also want to promote our local traditional heritage. We want the public to understand the importance of the ethics of care in cultural appropriation and, for us designers, what is acceptable when it comes to incorporating specific cultural components into our work,” he added.

The Bagobo Tagabawa women keep the tradition of bead weaving alive with grace, passion, and the artistry and dedication of true homegrown artisans and storytellers. To help them sustain this advocacy, DFDCFI and the Philippine Women’s College of Davao partnered with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to provide training on pattern making and sewing to the women artisans as they explore mainstream enterprise.

The PWC Institutional Community Development Program has facilitated basic pattern and sewing workshops and awarded 30 NC2 dressmaking scholarships to the artisans of Lubogan, Toril has since its establishment.

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