An expression of nationalism

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By Jenny Molbog-Mendoza

Fashion Nook

Sunday, June 22, 2014

THE official Filipino national attire was highlighted during a weeklong exhibit at the SM Lanang Premier Atrium to express nationalism through love of culture and the arts.

Dubbed as “Pinoy Fashion: T’nalak Barong Exhibit”, which ran from June 6 until 12, was part of the 116th Independence Day and the Barong Week celebration of the country. It was organized in partnership with the Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation, Inc. (TADECO).

It showcased the classic barong collections of Davao-based architect Michael Ebro Dakudao and fashion designer and Philippine Women’s College of Davao Fashion Design Program head Emi Alexander Englis made from T’nalak fabric, the traditional tapestry made by indigenous peoples in Mindanao.


While we are used to seeing traditional barongs for men, the exhibit also presented various barong pieces for the women whose cut and design are truly elegant, a real match to the sophisticated beauty of the Filipinas.
Dakudao’s “Barong Mindanao” collection was exquisitely handmade by Davao artiste Carmaela Alcantara of Crystal Seas Hand-woven Products.

His collection was inspired by four of the major tribes in the island-region – Bagobo, Mandaya, Tausug, and B’laan. The carefully and elegantly crafted barongs utilized hand-woven fabrics of sinamay, piña, and ramie linen. Among Dakudao’s featured Barong Tagalogs, my personal favourite was the Piña Barong which he got just this year. Based on the description of how it was created, the Piña Barong was hand-painted with geometric patterns based on the B’laan tribe’s tie-dyed, handwoven fabrics with rich and eye-catching details done in mother-of-pearl and crystals.

Meanwhile, Englis’s collection highlighted the Barong Dress in panels of piña and cocoon silk with bodice in traditional callado detail, Sartorial Garb incallado piña top with detachable collar tab hand painted in loose T'nalak  patterns, hand painted barong that follows the patterns from a T'nalak's dreamweaver's tale, Scarves using traditional indigenous dyeing technique, and T’nalak by Laang Dulay of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato who is a Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan for Traditional Weaving awardee.  

Apart from the barong collections, a 4x8 T’nalak installation piece inspired by the Philippine flag was also mounted at the center of the venue. The piece was woven by T’boli weavers in Lake Sebu but sewn in Davao. An actual weaving activity of a T’boli woman likewise took part in the exhibit.

(Special thanks to Ms. Acey Puno of SM Lanang Premier for the photos.)

For comments and suggestions, feel free to reach me at

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 23, 2014.


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