By AA Patawaran
Local is new, even if it’s old, even if it’s as old as indigenous weaves whose beauty, more than in their patterns
and their craftsmanship, lies in their heritage, maybe even in the fact that they have long been ignored, unappreciated, or forgotten.
But now old is new, as long as it is local. The terno sleeves have made their way to the closets of the modern Filipino, who puts them on when there is a need to glam up, whether as a cocktail dress or as a cropped top (paired with a snug pair of denim capris) for a night on the town or a long gown in which to turn heads at any of the hot-ticket balls that should start rolling as the brrr months kick in.
But there is more. Now, inabel cover-ups from Piopio are the thing to wear to the beach. Girls go around in their T’boli Biti shorts in linen by Filip + Inna on the city streets. There’s the Pangapog skirt by Anthill, handwoven in bold colors from Samal City, Davao for a look structured enough to wear to a business meeting.
The Bagobo chief ’s headdress, the tangkulo, is now a prized neckerchief or scarf, thanks to Kaayo, a social enterprise whose main goal is to provide livelihood to Mindanao tribes by updating, modernizing, and promoting their intricate and indigenous weaves nationwide, thus making it a rage among the trendy set nationwide.
Always in tune with public desires, retail magnate Ben Chan also started the #LoveLocal trend a few years back and it has since become the hashtag-du-jour that thousands want on their #OOTD (Outfit of the Day) posts.
Check Instagram and you’ll see: The hashtag has so far gathered 725,000 postings.
It’s not only a heightened sense of who we are (or who we might be) that’s reviving interest in things cultural.
Environmental awareness is also driving people to look closer so that mangoes in your own backyard may be immeasurably more special now than the mangoes from Guimaras, let alone the Alphonsos from India. We don’t need silk from Lyon in France, when silk from Negros will do, especially if we’re watching our carbon footprint.
Know where your stuff comes from, that’s the mantra of the day. And it makes sense: Locally sourced is ever more attractive because it’s easier to know what it is when you know exactly where it comes from. And so more and more of us are looking around where we are for the next big thing.
As GenZers come of age, it is also becoming apparent that caring is cool again. Care about your planet, but to be authentic — a quality that many now demand of anything they patronize or support — you must first care about what’s around you. Thus the heightened love of culture.
There is a danger of cultural appropriation, but that’s a good problem, if the initial goal is to plant the seeds of cultural awareness.
It’s a lesser evil compared to cultural indifference, which is among the reasons national identity and national pride have remained an issue over 100 years since Philippine Independence.
Still, entrepreneurs who are thankfully mining our rich heritage for ideas must be careful enough so as not to claim another culture as theirs, not to be totally clueless about the context of the cultural property they are using, and not to disrespect it in any way. Wearers are likewise advised: Think before you wear.