Darkness embraced the venue past ten o’clock on 17 June 2022, but the euphoria of the night failed to ebb away at the Layag ng Habi Showcase. Walking around the venue, you can hear the chatters and the subtle squeals and cheers from the participants. The excitement over the fashion show continued the morning after, and up until this moment of writing. Layag ng Habi became a social media sensation garnering hundreds of clicks, red hearts, and thumbs-up reactions on the Facebook platform. People praised the colorful and intricate designs captured as the models strut and parade their outfits on the runway. Uplifting reviews and opinions on the fashion show seconded the emojis and reactions. Seeing the overwhelming reaction from the showcase audience and online platform commenters, this writer agrees that the Layag ng Habi is a groundbreaking success and the first of its kind. It eclipsed and innovated two smaller fashion shows mounted in the previous years.
But there is more to the Layag ng Habi fashion show than meets the eye...more than the social media frenzy it caused.
The showcase organizers, led by the Ifugao Provincial Government through the Office of the Sangguniang Kabataan Provincial Federation in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry Ifugao Provincial Office and private consultants and designers, collaborated to showcase the versatility of Ifugao’s traditional woven textile called “inabol“. Inabol is malleable and flexible. It can easily follow the will of the designer, as well as the wearer of the material. It may be worn as it is, but it can also be blended and merged with intricately designed handloom woven fabrics to add grandeur and detail to the wardrobe. Inabol designs usually include dyed Ikat in creating wearables, in support of the end goal of sustaining the weaving industry of Ifugao province.
Subdued colors of red, black, gray, and white, with hints of brightness from the colors yellow and green dominated the trendy yet distinctively Ifugao-inspired casual and formal attires showcased by the models at the DBHS Gymnasium, Lagawe. There was palpable excitement in the air, with the audience reacting in approval each time a model sashayed on the runway.
Seven Fashion Houses, which are all considered small and medium enterprises, participated in the fashion show. Back-to-back with their respective House Designers, these Fashion Houses were Etniq Filosofi with Ms. Mayki Vhon Beleran as house designer, Kenro’s Boutique/Ms. Abigail Mae V. Bulayungan, Abella’s House of Arts/Ms. Mayki Vhon Beleran, Oskhie Design You/Mr. Oscar Binay-o, Jr., Tribo Estilo/Ms. Genesis Galap-Gonzales, Jiya Gowns / Ms. Jonaida Bogwana, and Ifugao Nation/ Mr. Marlon Martin. With the colorful designs worn by the beautiful Ifugao beauties, the audience’s breath was seemingly taken away.
According to DTI-Ifugao’s Coordinator for the Layag ng Habi, Ms. Judy Christy G. Bunnol, several pieces of the 86 prototypes developed during the DTI OTOP Next Gen Local Designers’ Training were modeled by the fashion houses, who were themselves participants in the said training. She also said that five of the fashion houses were graduates of either the DTI Kapatid Mentor ME Program (KMME) or the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP). Moreover, two of the homegrown designers who designed for the fashion houses, and the people behind Layag ng Habi’s branding and promotion, were graduates of the DTI MODA – Modernong Obra, Disenyong Atin, a DTI-One Town, One Product (OTOP) Manlilikha Designer Competency Course. The rest of the local designers are themselves recipients of other DTI programs and services.
In his message, Provincial Director Lino D. Cungihan said that the Layag ng Habi aims “to sell our traditional textiles inspired by our rich and unique culture when designed according to the dictates of a fast-changing fashion, can be on par with the best of the world. Your appreciation and approval of the show will become the springboard for our industry to sail out for more promotion locally and internationally. And all of these aggressive promotions when realized could translate to more job and livelihood opportunities for our province. While at it, your government could be counted on for policy and cheaper raw material sources. Right sources here are this ongoing Provincial Government, Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA), and DTI collaborative project on the trial planting of PhilFIDA’s high yielding in the municipalities of Lagawe, Asipulo, Aguinaldo, and Mayoyao. The initial output is so far promising. There is also the request for FIDA to test the quality of our wild abaca as possible raw material for our weaving industry.”
Similar messages on the economic viability of the province’s inabol and other end products were delivered by the Provincial Governor’s Executive Administrator, Mr. Elino M. Ponchinlan, Jr., and the Provincial Gotad Ad Ifugao Task Force Coordinator, Engr. Carmelita B. Buyuccan.
Behind the fashion show, the Layag ng Habi has shown a new generation of Ifugao local talents in fashion designing, modeling, set and production designing, branding and promotion, documentation and photo shoot, coordination, and directing competencies that have systematically interplayed in their best, thus have steered the Layag ng Habi to what Ifugao and the world have seen on the night of June 17.
Encouragingly, these Ifugao local talents signified willingness to have a comeback; to work with the Provincial Government and partner agencies in setting up the 2nd Stage of the Layag ng Habi come 2023 – all for the greater good of the weaving industry of the province.
By: DTI - CAR