A Weekend with Filipina Embroiderers at Patis Tito’s Embroidery Exchange

It was time for another getaway and just a couple of days after our Natural Dyeing Seminar/Workshop at PTRI, we travelled to San Pablo, Laguna to join in the festivities at Patis Tito Garden Cafe where they had the so-called “Embroidery Exchange.” Patis Tesoro thought of having this event in her cafe after visiting the embroiderers last December 2015.


As mentioned in Patis Tito’s Facebook page, this embroidery exchange is the first ever collaborative encounter between the Tinggians of Namarabar, Peñarrubia, Abra and the embroiderers of Lumban, Laguna. This was held last February 20 and 21, 2016. I saw this as an opportunity to personally interact with the embroideries to see and experience their work.

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Dyeing Using Philippine Indigenous Plants (Natural Dyeing)

For every mystery solved, another mystery shows up. The study of textiles and how it is made is what started this journey—a journey to uncover how Filipinos made textile in the past and present. Not less than a year ago I wove my first fabric using commercial polyester yarns. After experiencing weaving in May 2015—an extremely laborious, meticulous and meditative task—I entertained the possibility of using natural yarn as a material. This was made possible when one of my design entries became a finalist in the 53rd Japan Fashion Design Contest. In October 2015, in collaboration with the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), I managed to finish my first textile design using the fibers cotton and abaca. And now I am exploring the use of cotton and silk. Before I only got to use black dye for my textile, this time I hope to explore more dyes. Another pandora’s box just opened.

For this month’s adventures and misadventures, I knocked on the door of our local textile institute once again so that I may learn the secrets of Natural Dyeing. They were gracious enough to accommodate my request. Through PTRI we learned how to extract and apply natural dyes on natural fibers.

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Studies on Form using Handwoven Textiles

Despite my busy schedule I managed to squeeze in this little project commissioned to me by Director Celia Elumba of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI). I was asked to create seven miniature dresses on miniature dress forms that will be given as tokens to the guest speakers of TELA Nation Conference. When I learned that I will be using handwoven cloth I agreed to take on the project without second thoughts.

Finally, I get to work with some of PTRI’s collection of handwoven fabrics. These are all experimental textiles, if I am not mistaken. And they are fabulous!

I worked with natural fibers and some blends. Cotton, silk, banana, pineapple and abaca where just some of the fibers used. I particularly loved the openweaves and double weaves that created layers of unusual textures. Looking at them up close and touching them gave me so much inspiration.

PTRI _Mini0
Experimental fabrics from PTRI.

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TELA Nation: Revitalizing the Fiber and Textile Industry in the Philippines

As I was preparing for my next textile project I received an invitation from the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to participate in the “TELA Nation” Conference. This was held last January 28, 2016, at the DOST Executive Lounge from 9am to 5pm.


I was also invited to exhibit my entry entitled “Di-Matinag” (Indestructible), finalist for the 53rd Japan Fashion Design contest. It was a perfect venue to display the entry since it was promoted alongside the recent textile developments of PTRI’s engineers and scientists.


DOST-PTRI exhibit of textiles and fibers with master weaver Josie Garlitos and designer Jean A. Dee
I remember the first time I attended a PTRI conference. It was about 3 years ago (June 2013) when Ms. Virmila Alvarez, who is a former specialist in PTRI, invited me to attend. If not for her invitation, I would have zero knowledge and appreciation for traditional textiles and local natural fibers.

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Di-Matinag: One Step Forward

During my flight on the way to Japan last October 7, I wrote a litany of thank yous to every person and institution that supported an idea first sketched on paper. Now, I finally find time to post it.

Truth of the matter is, no matter how brilliant an idea may be, it all boils down to execution. Often this part has always caused me a tremendous amount of frustration. However, the timing and the support of a various people had been ideal. These sparked a fire that lit a path that was once too dark to walk through.

After almost three months of hard work I finally realized the idea that was just a vision in my head. It has gone through many revisions and has evolved from a mere concept to an actually wearable ensemble that finally walked the runway in Sugino Hall in Tokyo last October 10, 2015.

This is how it looked:


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The Precedent of Cloth: Baskets and Mats (FITE Part 4 of 6)

Basket making is the first form of weaving, said Robert Lane ‎owner of Silahis Arts and Artifacts Inc..

Robert Lane casually lecturing.
Robert Lane casually lecturing.

Man began to twist dried leaves together to form rope. By coiling or interlacing these fibers they eventually formed what we call baskets. Baskets by definition are lightweight containers used to hold or carry things many times its original weight. These are typically made from any interwoven strips and Philippine baskets are usually made from wood or plant fibers like pandan, rattan, nito and bamboo.

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I’m a finalist in the 53rd Japan Fashion Design Contest!

(I wrote this entry last July 18, 2015)

It’s been 18 days since I submitted my entry for this year’s Japan Fashion Design Contest. I finally nailed it this year and made it to the list of top 40 finalists who will compete on October 10 in Tokyo, Japan.

Taken from http://www.sugino.ac.jp/gakuen/project/contest/2015/
Image borrowed from the contest’s official website.

Last July 15 I checked updates in the contest website. I was really surprised to see my name in the list (and how the organizers really did give the announcement exactly mid July). I was still in doubt of course, but because I was more excited, I shared the news to everyone I knew on Facebook. It was only this morning that I received an email notification informing me that I will move on to the 2nd round.

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The Fine Art of Piña with Patis Tesoro (FITE: Part 3 of 6)

Patis Tesoro, the “Grand Dame of Philippine Fashion” is an advocate of piña (pineapple) and other indigenous materials held a talk in the afternoon of July 8, 2015 at FITE in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. She made a brief yet eye-opening presentation on how piña fabric is made.

Patis Tesoro on the Process of Weaving
Patis Tesoro ready to tell the story of the process of Piña. On her table are actual handwoven Piña pieces she designed.

I already knew before I attended her talk that piña was really difficult to make. Having done weaving myself I realize how time consuming it is to prepare the warp, the loom and weave. It took me almost five days to finish a scarf and I just used commercial polyester threads. With yarns like silk and piña, the task is probably ten times more difficult.

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