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It has been the new “Who are you wearing?” Lately, especially as September rolled in and kicked off the “ball” season, as well as the holiday bazaars, like MaArte, Katutubo, and Manila FAME, the focus has seemed to shift to local prints, patterns, and weaves.

They’re the new headturners, the new conversation pieces, especially after retail magnate Ben Chan, champion of the “Love Local” movement, decided to make barong Tagalog and terno the dress code for his table at any of the A-list events, from the Red Charity Gala in October to the Tatler Ball in November.

As a result, having incorporated such terms as Yakan, Ikat, Binakol, Bagobo, T’nalak, Inabel, Hablon, even Saputangan, Siniwsiwan, and Mabal Tabih, we have a much more expanded fashion vocabulary and, for once, the additions are from within our own cultural framework.

I myself have had a renewed interest in the barong Tagalog, having discovered how flexible it is in terms of design, even in terms of cut, colors, and collars. So in my barong Tagalog, I had my eyes set on Filipino wear as I went around the party circuit asking these people about the fabrics of our local culture.

Plet Bolipata Borlongan


My favorite weave in 2019 was this inabel ensemble designed for me (gratis) by no less than the fabulous designer Pepito Albert. He has made it his personal mission to make sure that artists are well-dressed when they represent the country abroad. This was my first exhibit in Southeast Asia, representing Art Cube Gallery in the Art Central HKG 2019. Coincidentally, I exhibited my dollhouse, which I also wrapped in inabel, featuring our beloved Gabriela Silang’s narrative—a real person canonized as a hero through her prowess in battling the Spanish colonial regime as a female general of the Philippine resistance in the 19th century. Her brave story was threshed out in different videos that were cleverly hidden inside the dollhouse and one could watch her story unfold by peeking through the tiny windows. The striking black top I wore was a fitting tribute as well to our heroine’s heritage because she comes from the North, where weavers of the inabel are known to originate.


Love Marie Ongpauco Escudero


I love this jacket I first wore to the SONA. It was made by Boom Sason. I love how now we can mix traditional with modern. Plus, there’s always something about a woman in a suit. It says so many things about how we have empowered ourselves to make this world a better, fairer place.

Nedy Tantoco


I love this Filipino woven vest by Mithi, from Rustan’s Our Very Own, but recently, at the Club Bulakeño Ball, I wore this embroidered and beaded Maria Clara made by Patis Tesoro in jusi. It’s vintage, not modern Filipiniana, but it always makes me feel confident, which is why it is my favorite.

Lucy Torres Gomez

I like the colors of this tapis or malong. I’ve seen it used as tablecloth, bedspread, cut and made into throw pillows. I like though that I can also essily have it fashioned into a skirt nice enough to wear on occasions especially that celebrate the Filipino.



Berna Romulo Puyat


I have this Filip + Inna dress that I think is the best because it takes inspiration from Visayan and Mindanaoan cultures. The design was derived from the Maranao inlay and the materials, the shell beads in particular, are from Cebu. It’s also two outfits in one as the terno sleeves are detachable.

Randy Ortiz


Embroidered patterns in floral and Baroque are my all-time favorite prints on a modern piña barong or camisa. They speak a lot about my aesthetics and sensibility as a designer.

Tokie Tantoco Enriquez


I love my inabel skirt. The center pattern is pinapaid or fan design while the ones on the sides are paddak pusa or cat’s paw. Both are traditional Binakol weaves. When I laid my eyes on the skirt during FAME, I knew I had to have it. It was love at first sight. I love it because it’s very classic and the colors are so subtle. The style is so elegant that I feel like a Filipino tribal princess in it.

Kai Nakanishi Lim


I love this Kaayo jacket beaded in T’boli pattern. I fully support the #LoveLocal movement and I love how this culturally significant pattern can look modern and ultra chic.

 Marga Nograles


My favorite pattern is still this half triangle beading of the T’boli tribe from Lake Sebu. The tribe always proudly tells us that their handbeading is so skilfully done that they will never come off. And on the pieces I own, they never have. I love their workmanship—and this pattern can be handbeaded on almost anything and in many ways.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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