I originally wrote this as a reaction paper for my Basic Fashion Styling Class under Ms. Marina Abad-Santos Benipayo. Figured it would be a waste if I didn’t publish it. Besides, I believe everyone should get to know the Fashion of Mindanao more 🙂
It has always been a cliché of a saying, that ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.’ But I’ve always also believed, that beauty, is also lies on the hands that weave them. And if anyone, of any race in the Philippines, would have mastered weaving beauty in such a way that the beholder is held captivated and enchanted, it is the proud race of the people of Mindanao. From inspiration to creation, the people of the South have truly made fashion an intricate, and intimate part of their lives.
I was fortunate enough to see a glimpse of their own perception of beauty, through the recently held Eid’L Fitr Festival 2014 Culminating Activity, which featured a Fashion Show that showcased the Fashion of Bangsa-Moro.
Eid’l Fitr is the last day of the holy month of Ramadan, where a month-long fasting in celebration of the revelation of the QuRan, comes to an end. According to the Chairperson of the Magbassa Kita Foundation (dedicated in promoting Literacy amongst the Muslims in the Philippines), Sen. Santanina Rasul, in her opening remarks before the couture show, the Eid is the most festive of all Muslim Holidays, where all luscious abundance are made available to eat, and all colors are worn. The foundation is one the helping hands that made the show possible, to showcase not only to Muslims, but to everyone, the colors and fabric that make Mindanao beautiful.
For the couture show, which lasted for about 30 minutes, the works and designs of Len Cabili and Amir Sali were strutted down in the runways for the mass to see. Both designers are well-known with regards to incorporating their designs with Muslim patterns and traditions, have made name for themselves throughout their career. With the beautiful models of the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP), and Supermodel/Actress/SoFa Instructor Ms. Marina A.S. Benipayo, the physical and intricate dreams of the people of the Mindanao came to life under the limelight.
Aside from the couture show, an exhibit also stood in front of the stage, behind the audience area. The exhibit, which featured booths the represented the largest provinces of Mindanao such as Maguindanao and Lanao, displayed the colorful clothing and costumes of the different indigenous tribes that resided there. Though each set of clothing followed their own traditions and beliefs, which depended on which materials they used and how long fabric cuts should be, they had one thing in common – the textures that tell you subtly how much effort was put into making each piece. While some had heavily-beaded exteriors, and some had heavily embroidered surfaces – one thing is for sure, each piece were of blood, sweat, dreams, and passion. No one knows exactly how much days had to be spent to completely fill a full, maxi skirt with embroidered patterns, or how many stitches had to be made to fully cover a jacket with beads of multiple colors, shapes, and types – but they surely weren’t done in a day. And if there was anything else I felt aside from the none-plain texture of each clothing I took photos of and touched, it was dedication.
Studying Mindanao Fashion, I learned that in order to make patterns and designs clothes, creators rely on dreams. The people of Mindanao must then have colorful dreams, when they design jackets with beads. The people of Mindanao must then have vivid and clear dreams, for them to be able to weave fabrics with multiple colors of threads in the most complex of designs. But despite all these embellishments, they never forget to uphold the teachings they received from their forefathers. When I tried on Yakan clothing on a photobooth in the exhibit, the kind Muslim ladies joked about my attire being to ‘explicit’ (I was wearing a high low skirt, ruffled sleeve slim top and a pair of lace-up boots). I did not take offense, I knew they grew up with different teachings. For my costume, they let me have a try at those principles, by sweeping my hair back with a cloth, completely hiding all strands; and a long skirt with colorful patterns. In the modern world, for some, beauty meant freedom in clothing. The Yakan clothing was restricted, but it did not look less than beautiful to me. In fact, the long fabric with its complexities, was what made the ensemble truly beautiful.
Each clothing is intricate, and intimate to the beliefs of the people of Mindanao with regards to beauty. Perhaps for them, beauty is something that should not only attract attention, but should also instill an understanding. While beauty, as they say, lies in the eyes of the beholder, perhaps beauty for them should also be able to make that beholder understand their traditions, and how highly they regard of aesthetics as a part of their lives.