Filipino in thought, word…and dress

An array of radiant 'ternos' from private collections. Photos by Elton Lugay

An array of radiant ‘ternos’ from private collections. Photos by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

The Philippine Center lobby never looked so resplendent.

There in the austere hall stood an array of Philippine ternos aglow in their rhinestones, sequins, beads, appliques, ribbons, and glitters. It was the June 5 opening gala of “Filipiniana Romance: An Exhibit of Philippine Couture,” showcasing 20 elegant ternos designed by noted couturiers and lent by the women in the community who own them.

“They’re all terrific,” Christine Pomeranz, the Cebu-born professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told The FilAm. “Each one is special. One is classically elegant, others, nicely colorful, feminine and showcases Philippine embroidery. I feel that everything here makes it a very rich exhibit.”

This exhibit is not only a recognition of the artistry and design and craftsmanship of the Filipino designer but also the evolution of the design, said Deputy Consul General Tess Dizon de Vega. “It is also a tribute to our overseas Filipinos who despite time and distance continue literally to wear their being a Filipino,” she said in her opening remarks.

From romantic...

From romantic…

“During the Philippine Independence Month we usually hold an exhibit as part of the commemoration,” Consul General Mario de Leon said during his welcome remarks.

“What makes this exhibit special is the fact that these featured pieces are from private collections of members of the Filipino American community,” he said. The gowns were created by some of the most acclaimed designers in the Philippines and New York, he added. Former fashion model Bessie Badilla, for example, lent a couple of her own gowns designed by the legendary Pitoy Moreno.

“These Filipinas whether transplanted to the US or outside the Philippines take great pride in their cultural heritage and proudly wear their Filipiniana attire during Philippine Independence parades, Santacruzans, cultural, civic, social and festive occasions such as this,” he added.

Fiel Zabat, one of the curators of the exhibit said Filipinos should “have at least one Filipino ‘terno’ and one ‘barong Tagalog’ in your luggage and to proudly wear them for any occasion.”

...To whimsical

…To whimsical

Some of the designers present during the exhibit were Leonard Co, Elvira Reyes, Anna Purugganan and Alfonso Guinoo, who flew in all the way from Davao City to attend the gala.

The designs reflect the Philippines as a paradise that is well known for its flowers, birds and trees, said Zabat.

“The pieces on display all have the common features of the basic ‘baro’t saya,’ a contraction of the Philippine words for blouse and skirt,” she said. “The slightly more elaborate Maria Clara design which builds on the ‘baro’t saya,’ and their more modern cousin, the ‘terno.’”

Those who shared their gowns for the exhibit aside from Badilla were Fe Cabactulan, Fe Martinez, Cora Reyes, Luz Vivas, Ollie David, April Talangbayan and Joyce de Leon, daughter of Congen de Leon.

Soprano Kay Habana and Hollywood actor John Arcilla provided entertainment.

The exhibit will run until June 21, at the Philippine Center Lobby on Fifth Avenue.

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