Hoping that issues concerning culture and indigenous Filipinos will be included in the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Senator Loren Legarda is determined to make a statement on preserving and promoting the Filipino heritage and literally walk her talk.
The Senator, who has been passionately advocating for a more active promotion of the traditions and cultural practices of the country’s 110 ethno-linguistic groups, will wear indigenous garments at the opening of the 16th Congress and during the President’s SONA.
“My outfit represents ‘fashionalism’—fashion and nationalism. I wanted to wear something relevant and meaningful,” said Legarda.
Legarda will wear a red, beaded Gaddang outfit composed of an aken (skirt), a barawasi (blouse), and a bakwat (belt), which are all woven out of cotton “kapat” thread and accessorized with the traditional Gaddang intricate beadwork. A Bontoc necklace will complete the outfit.
The Gaddang peoples are from the Mountain Province and other parts of the Cordillera and Nueva Vizcaya.
The Gaddangs are known for their unique traitional costumes accentuated with beads and precious stones. The Gaddang women weave these garments and apply the intricate beadwork to every piece of clothing. A belt alone is made in more than a week’s time.
Another outfit that Legarda will wear is a Nabal abaca cloth turned into a skirt. This was presented to her during the third lecture of the Senator Loren Legarda Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge at the National Museum by Master Weaver Tia Ines Pandian of the Bagobo Tagabawa community in Tudaya, Sta. Cruz located at the foothills of Mt. Apo. The cloth was woven by Tia Ines’ mother who passed on the Bagobo weaving tradition to her.
The Bagobo skirt will be accentuated by a TBoli brass belt casted by Sbanay Lugan of the TBoli community of Lamlahat, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. The double row of brass bells is intended to attract more spirits to guide the wearer.
“In wearing these garments, I wish to recognize and honor our indigenous peoples for their great contribution to our rich heritage and unique culture. Many of their concerns have yet to be addressed but they remain faithful to the traditions passed on to them by their ancestors,” said Legarda.
“This is a statement of support to all efforts in preserving our culture and protecting the rights of IPs. This is a statement that we will continue to initiate programs that will promote our heritage. Through this, I also wish to invite everyone to visit the National Museum, especially the country’s first permanent textile galleries known as the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino: The Artistry of Philippine Textiles, to be reunited with our past and discover how blessed and rich we are as a people,” she stressed.