Philippine fashion

What would it take to convince, say, someone like
Pitoy Moreno to transform Filipino clothing from formal wear to everyday wear?

He dresses the First Ladies in fabulous ternos. What about the common tao?

I wonder what can I do to get in touch with him and to convince him to give it a try. Hmm. Something to work on every now and then…

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E-Mail from Richi’s server

The malong and other fragments of Philippine culture

Red malong, style 2

One of the good things about Canada is that I can wear funky ethnic
outfits. I invariably get complimented whether I’m at a geek
get-together or a fashion boutique. I stand out in a crowd. It gives
people something to talk to me about, which has led to quite a few
interesting conversations. This is great when I’m among strangers, as
I don’t have to chat people up – people come to me!

My favorite ethnic outfit is the malong, a tubular piece of cloth
frequently embellished with batik designs or embroidery. I love it for
its versatility. Not only can it go from casual to formal and back
again, but I can also make it a skirt or a dress or a bag with just
the strategic repositioning of safety pins.

This malong:

  1. Slip into the malong’s tube and hold it so that the extra part is to your right.
  2. Loop the extra part behind and over your right arm.
  3. Fasten the part to both sides of the tube using a safety pin.
  4. Pin the fold to the opposite side.

Granted, I’m making things up as I go along. I don’t even have the
vocabulary to describe what I’m doing. <laugh> I’ll just have to
record a video sometime.

I’ve seen only one other person wear a malong regularly, and she was
one of the hippest dressers in Ateneo de Manila University. I have
three full malongs and two skirt-type malongs, which could probably
double as short dresses in a pinch. I want more!

Promoting traditional Filipino costumes is one of my little crusades.
I think we don’t give our culture enough credit, and we don’t have
nearly as much fun wearing traditional outfits as we could. I love
wearing my terno, and wish I had a more casual version that I could
wear during summer. I’d wear a Maria Clara if I had one, full skirt
and all. I would love to wear the Ifugao belt with the cute pompoms
and the tapis with intricate weaving. And I want to discover all the
other costumes that have sprung out of the multifaceted culture of an
archipelago.

I’d also love to have suits with ethnic accents, whether it’s in terms
of materials (I miss my barong dress!) or embellishments such as
weaving or embroidery. Does anyone know a fashion designer in touch
with the Filipina soul? I can’t afford an entire wardrobe of
custom-made suits, but I don’t mind slowly accumulating pieces of
quality. (Very slowly, given my graduate student budget!) I want to
promote Philippine culture, and this will be a lifelong endeavor.

I’m Filipina, and I want people to know it. I want people to think of
Filipinas as not just domestic helpers or nurses or potential wives. I
want them to think of Philippine culture as not just Western-aping
blandness but rather something richly textured. My body is my
billboard, and I want to be a walking advertisement for what is
beautiful about my home.

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Batik and ethnic clothes

Wearing a batik malong

I love wearing ethnic clothes. Traditional outfits are hip enough to
pass off as casual but dignified enough to go formal, possible with a
little creative re-pinning. I love wearing batik-dyed or embroidered
malongs, the simple tubular skirts that can be turned into dresses and
sashes and sleeping bags depending on need. I love wearing my
butterfly-sleeved terno and wish I had one that looked less formal.
The gold-threaded cream blouse makes it too dressy, but I wear it
anyway!

Of all the costumes I wear—from hacked computer T-shirts to flowing
skirts to jeans and a tee—I like the traditional ones the most.

Thanks, Mom, for sending me two more malongs and a few black tops!
Thanks to Pavel and Emily for bringing them from the Philippines!
I want more outfits…

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Hacked another T-shirt

I simply can’t resist wordplay when it comes to hacking T-shirts. The
bright orange T-shirt I bought at the Wireless Toronto anniversary
party has, now, well, wires – or laces, at least. It laces up the back
with strips cut from the T-shirt. (I didn’t have spare CAT5 lying
around…) Like most shirts, the armholes were way too big, so I cut a
panel down the back and used that as a bandeau under the rest of the
shirt. The panel was just a _bit_ too short, so I laced that one up in
front, too.

Yes, yes, a picture’s worth a thousand words, but I seem to have left
the cable for my camera at the lab. That said, I have a totally
small-time studio now: one warm light (from Ikea), a plastic tripod
($3 at Active Surplus), and a camera set to manual + timer…

If I had a remote and a full-length mirror, that would be even cooler.
That way, I could trigger the timer while making sure I’m in frame.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun making the shirt. I’m thinking of making
short vidcasts showing my different hacked-up computer shirts and
talking a little bit about the events/technologies behind them. =) (If
only to show everyone that yes, you can be a geek _and_ still have fun
being a girl!)

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Random Japanese sentence: うちは黒1匹、白2匹で、3匹の猫を飼っている。 We keep three cats, a black one and two white ones.

Traditional clothes

I like wearing outfits inspired by traditional Filipino costumes. I
love wearing my malongs, for example.

I want more Filipina flair! =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼はとても満足そうに見える。 He looks like a cat that ate the canary.