The spirited, bustling city of Manila is anything but ordinary. A metropolis buzzing with rich culture and a broad sense of profound history isn’t lost despite the country’s big steps towards modernization over the years—linking the past and future with its charms that bring travelers an enriching experience seeing Manila in a cultural light. Apart from heritage sites and brilliant architectural spaces, the local fashion scene is something truly worthy of awe and applause.
For years, fashion designers, including international names have held the traditional terno in esteem with its structural yet sophisticated butterly sleeves. These figures have consistently aimed to modernize and immortalize this Filipino national costume, also known as the Maria Clara or baro’t saya. And now in celebration of heritage month, The Department of Tourism together with the Intramuros Administration and Manila’s 5th District Representative, Cristal Bagatsing fuse heritage and creativity with the Balik Saya project—a design competition encouraging up and coming fashion designers to construct contemporary creations for the baro’t saya using local materials.
The competition is open to all designers who have a knack for contemporary design—seamstresses, out of school youth, young aspiring designers and students residing within Manila’s 5th district. “Balik Saya was initially only intended for the youth. But there were a lot of queries from seamstresses and out of school youth who were interested to join. So we widened the scope from just the youth to everyone residing in Manila’s 5th district,” says Representative Cristal Bagatsing. “We now champion an advocacy for everyone in the district to further develop their appreciation for cultural heritage”.
Manila’s 5th District Representative Cristal Bagatsing
Heading Balik Saya as a mentor is renowned fashion designer, Jojie Lloren who is no stranger to a myriad of reinterpretations of the baro’t saya and terno. “We hope to nurture in the participants creativity and natural aptitude for fashion design. This project also aims to provide a platform and opportunities for aspiring designers to showcase their work,” Lloren remarks.
Fashion designer and Project Mentor, Jojie Lloren
Designers for the Balik Saya competition will be judged based on workmanship, wearability, design, and originality with the final output consisting of at least 25% indigenous fabrics like piña, jusi, and inabel, among others. They will be evaluated by fashion big names and notable figures such as Inno Sotto, National Museum Director Jeremy Barnes, Tweetie De Leon-Gonzalez, Jojie Lloren, Criselda Lontok, Randy Ortiz, a representative from SoFA Design Institute, and DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo. Five winning designers will be chosen and will bring home cash prizes starting up to 100,000 for the first prize, an apprenticeship in Rustan’s, an overnight stay at The Bayleaf in Intramuros, and a workshop from SoFA Design Institute. A special award will also be given to the “Most Promising Ready-To-Wear Design.”
Apart from the exciting competition, Balik Saya will hold an exhibition of ternos and baro’t saya to showcase Filipino design and craftsmanship at the Destileria Limtuaco Museum in Intramuros with display pieces from Patis Tesoro and Destileria Limtuaco. Watch out for the exhibit which will run from May 17 to 26, 2018 and the Balik Saya awarding ceremony on May 28, 2018 at the National Museum of Natural History.