CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Regionalism in Philipppine Fashion: Moda Mindanao vs Stellar

FASHIONISTA in the Land of Promise rejoice every Kadayawan celebration.  Davao’s fashion designers, both the young, aspiring ones and the respected, established veterans, come up with brave and creative attempts in defining regionalism in fashion that is unmistakably Mindanaoan through an annual design competition.  Integrating Mindanao’s indigenous culture into their vision and interpretation of a tastefully conceived modern Filipiniana design is the big challenge.  It is truly a praise-worthy endeavor in preserving our past cultural values and enriching them with contemporary design to suit the fashionable desires and needs of present day Pinoys who are heavily weaned on fashion dictated by the West.

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MODA Mindanao at SM Lanang Premier

   Come Kadayawan Festival, the malls of the City admirably put up exhibits to help us rediscover the wealth of our heritage in every coconut and mother-of-pearl beading, bones and feathers that are painstakingly encrusted in the cultural handiwork of our beloved lumad tribes on display.  The singular and painstakingly handwoven Mindanaoan fabric of life is such a vital element in the development of Mindanao fashion in contemporary times.  Sadly, the art of handloom weaving is a dying tradition.  Traditional artisanal skills in the region are being lost.

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STELLAR at the Abreeza Mall

     Luckily, the country’s fashion greats such as the legendary Philippine terno icon Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, the late Dean of Muslim fashion Ben Farrales, Mindanao’s fashion czar Alfonso Guino-o, and such fashion celebrities like Patis Pamintuan-Tesoro, have done their fair share in championing the use of local fabrics and textiles and transforming them into elegant, wearable and doable Filipiniana for the modern Filipino.  Not to fail to mention Davao’s TADECO under the able  guidance of the talented Maricris Floirendo-Brias.  These people’s valuable support has seen the growth of the best of Filipino/Mindanaoan artisanship.  They, themselves, show how traditional fabrics, designs and techniques could be suited to the modern lifestyle of today and thus, keep these alive.

     This year, the Kadayawan Festival witnessed Davao’s fashion amoeba split into two:  Moda Mindanao and Stellar.  The more the merrier…Perhaps.  Moda Mindanao, which is now on its 11th year, has been witness to young local designers from all over Mindanao become recognized in their artistry, creativity and craftsmanship in fashion.  Moda Mindanao was founded by Oca Casaysay in 2005 as a spin off from Urog Etnika.  Since the departure of Oca Casaysay from his Davao City government post, Moda Mindanao’s ambitious goal under a new leadership this time is to make a name for itself in the global fashion scene.  The new Moda Mindanao claims to be on a fresh vision and design point of view, without much elaboration, as proclaimed in the recent show staged at the Atrium of SM Lanang Premier.  The new Moda Mindanao organizer or head was not even mentioned. I kept wondering how Oca Casaysay, who came to watch the show, must have felt with the changes made.

      On the other hand, the new Stellar group has the able support of the Davao Fashion and Design Council under the leadership of Aztec Barba; plus the partnership of the Philippine Womens College of Davao’s Business Administration, Information Technology and Fine Arts & Design Programs headed by veteran fashion designer/academician Emi Englis. In all honesty, Moda Mindanao and Stellar share the same vision and objectives.  Perhaps it is each organization’s process in realizing the goal which would make a difference.

      Last August 21, 2016, Moda Mindanao, which was staged at the Atrium of SM Lanang Premier, proclaimed Jay-R Flores from Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, as the grand prize winner for both Pret-a-porter and Long Gown categories.  Flores also won the Philippine Daily Inquirer Editor’s Pick award.  Flores’ amazing fully beaded T’nalak entry worn by Davao’s outstanding model, Arianna Belle Porol, was truly a standout and was obviously a notch above the rest of the entries.  He was the competing Mindanaoan designer who came all the way to Davao fully prepared to win.

     At the Stellar fashion competition held at the Entertainment Center of the Abreeza Mall last August 26, judges Cathy Binag (restaurateur/businesswoman), Suki Salvador (Dir. & Editor of One Mega Group), Avel Bacudio (fashion designer), Cary Santiago (International fashion designer) and Dodjie Batu (Davao fashion designer) proclaimed Wilson Limon as the first Stellar Mindanao Young Designer of the Year. The young Limon was awarded a handsome bust trophy made by Davao’s internationally renowned artist, Ann Tiukinhoy-Pamintuan, plus a cash prize of P50,000.  Limon had “Genderless World” as his concept for his design entry.  Coming in at second place was Lala Chua’s “Kutob Tubo” inspired fashion followed by Neil Jimlani’s third prize winning “Tabanog” entry.  Mandy Velasco’s flowing “Parabolic Sinalapid” collection won the Samsung special award.

     As I was asked which was the better design competition staged with the better young designers in participation, I refuse to answer still.  I congratulate both Moda Mindanao and Stellar in their advocacy in continuing and integrating indigenous Mindanaoan culture into modern design that is relevant to the younger Filipinos of today.  Moda Mindanao and Stellar are helping in preserving the cultural values of those who came before us in Mindanao; and enriching them with new and creative ideas for today’s application. That is what matters.  Mabuhay, Moda Mindanao and Stellar!

     Thank you, SM Lanang Premier and the Abreeza Mall, for the support.

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