Indigenous fabrics and travel destinations showcased in four Canadian cities during the Philippine Tapestry Fashion Show.

“It was very successful. Maganda yung kinalabasan. It has a totally different platform because it is a different way of promoting both the fabric and the destination,” Department of Tourism director Pura Suanding Molintas said. “It is not like an ordinary fashion show, it took a different form.”

Renee Salud, the famous Philippine designer, brought his haute couture designs using indigenous and intricate Filipino fabrics to four cities in Canada in a series of fashion shows that highlighted the beauty and culture of the Philippines through its tapestry.

From Vancouver to Toronto, Montreal and Calgary, the team behind the Philippine Tapestry project showed that the Filipino talent, design and raw materials are all world-class and topnotch.

The fabrics and hand-woven products used in the show came from both north and south Philippines, and it was chronologically presented. From up north are the fabrics of the Cordilleras, then Calabarzon area, Bicol (abaca), Visayas and the Mindanao area.

The needlework of some of the colorful fabrics was also highlighted.

“This kind of needlework makes the fabrics look more elegant, add to that the exquisite beadwork and you have beautiful material,” Molintas said, adding that the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) area is becoming famous for this.

“Aside from the success of the runway shows in the four cities in Canada, I would say that one thing that was achieved was the promotion of both fabric and destination. Traditionally, a fashion show would only present the fabric and the art of designing and presenting it as an apparel.”

This time, even the source of the raw material for the fabric was promoted, including the livelihood of the communities that benefit when these fabrics get bought. In these communities, it is mostly the women who work with the loom, beads and needlework.

The show was able to capture the beauty of the destination as well, along with the culture and this is revealed in the presentation of the tourist attractions. Then the products used – such as the pineapple or pina – is highlighted.

“This was the only time that I’ve been to a fashion show that blended the fabrics used in the show with the places where these fabrics were sourced from,” Molintas added.

One of the goals of Philippine Tapestry 2017 was to showcase the colorful and exotic weaves from the various regions of the Philippines, including the fabrics of the Cordillera, abaca from Bicol, pineapple fiber from the Visayas and t’nalak, inaul, yakan, Mindanao silk, and pis syabit from Mindanao.

“I would say that the group was lean and mean. Very few models came from Manila, the rest was local. There’s a Filipino community organizer that we partnered with,” Molintas shared when asked about how difficult it was to stage such a big project. “That’s what made the show more successful.”

On Target

“We are on track based on the previous months’ report of tourist arrivals,” she said, adding that the success of the Canadian shows would help in further pushing the number of tourist arrivals in the country.

Beyond the travel and trade shows across North America, there are ways to get fresh tourists to visit the Philippines and the series of fashion shows is yet another endeavor of the Department of Tourism to entice new visitors to check out the country and for returning visitors to take another look and book another trip to the islands.

“In the four cities that we visited, hindi lang Filipino ang audience natin, we had mainstream guests as well,” Molintas said. “The Filipinos there brought their friends to see the show.”

There are more events and activities lined up for the North American team of the tourism department, all being done to make sure that more influx of tourists who get to visit the country.

From celebrating with Canada for its 150th birthday to local travel markets and dive shows, the officials are leaving no stone unturned to make 2017 yet another record-breaking year.

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Momar Visaya

Momar Visaya is the Editor-in-Chief of the Asian Journal's New York & New Jersey Newspaper Edition and Life Eastyle Magazine.