Monday, August 15, 2011

Sidney Eculla: Weaving in Harmony the Threads of the Earth

Ilonggo designer Sydney Eculla with muse Dimple dela Cruz in hablon
 photo by Ryan Rey Genciana
Sidney Eculla, 25, sometimes known simply as 'Sid', is an Ilonggo fashion designer. Born in Igbaras, Iloilo, Eculla is self-trained. His passion for designing clothes started as a teenager when he was exposed as a production designer in school-based theater. He knew that one day he would make a living out of it. In 2007, Eculla worked as an assistant for Manila-based designer Edgar Allan.

In the last quarter of 2009 before moving back to Iloilo, Eculla was invited in a showcase of Philippine fabrics where he showed his collection of hablon of Miag-ao, Iloilo and silk cocoon of Aklan outside Philippines at the Philippine Center in 5th Avenue, New York.

For his first fashion show here in Iloilo, the designer has chosen abaca and hablon, both woven in his hometown, Igbaras. These fabrics seemed the appropriate ones to be used for his collections. Light and warm with a rough fluffy finish to it. In the raw it was very matt but beautifully finished with a delicate sheen. It not flashy or as smooth as silk, but it is more a thread of the earth.

hablon ensemble by Sidney Eculla, photo by Ryan Rey Genciana
Hand-woven fabrics of hablon and abaca enable him to assemble a range of colors that reflects the essence of the earth. Colors and texture are still his passions that keep him using our hand-loomed fabrics. The fabrics create a spectacular and enduring look with each piece designed to take advantage of the inherent characteristics of the fibers and yarns used. They are unique in texture, appearance and hand.

Eculla continues to develop his unique collection of hand-woven fabrics. Over the years, the response to this fabric has been overwhelming. The designer continually experiments and sample to find new weaves and textures. His collection brings a contemporary look to ancient textile traditions and bridges the gap between couture and wearable art.

His work demonstrates the best understanding or interpretation of the elements of art and design, a mastery of materials and techniques, imagination, inventiveness and individuality, and aesthetic consistency. His goal is to create a look and feel that suits the intended use - fabrics that are both luxurious and functional.

phtoto by Ryan Rey Genciana
Eculla travels to Manila every now and then for his clients and continues to stay on the cutting edge of fashion design. His studio is located at Soriano Complex, West Avenue, Molo, Iloilo City. You can also get in touch with him through his cellular phone number at 09276076031.

See more of his collections in the 4th Fiber Fashion Fair with Anyag on August 27 at 7 p.m., SM City Activity Center. This annual industry event is jointly organized by SM City Iloilo in cooperation with GMA-6 Iloilo, The News Today, Graphic etc. Printhaus, Iloilo Grand Hotel, New Asia Holidays Corporation, Golden Krafty Enterprises, IVQ Landholdings Inc., Beauty Dynamics Facial Care Center, Villa Darroca, Escas, Deocampos Barquillos, Biscocho Haus, Glecas Catering and Food Services and KRS Catering.

A Visual Feast of Weaving Traditions for the 4th Fashion Fiber Fair

abaca outfit by International Lifestyle Designer PJ SAranador of Estancia,
 Iloilo for Fiber Fashion Fair 2008
The Fiber Fashion Fair is the only one of its kind annual fiber fair in the region held in Iloilo. It is the most effective way to promote the indigenous fabrics of Panay. It is no wonder that the Fiber Fashion Fair has already become a must see for all those weaving supporters in Panay.

The Fiber Fashion Fair is not just a place to market Panay hand-loomed and fiber products, but also a platform to celebrate weaving history in a unique way by showcasing the works of ordinary and extraordinary weavers of Panay, promoting the exploration of knowledge and ideas on weaving and providing an avenue for viewing and appreciation.

Visitors can experience the diversity of weaving cultures – showcased through the variety of colors and style. The display plays an important role in helping people learn about the industry. It is also a popular point of call for the buying public.

The event is a visual feast, characterized by vivid colors, shapes and textures as visitors connect to individual weavers and weaving communities through their display. The fair will showcase all the products and services related to weaving. It will also be an opportunity for weaving communities and entrepreneurs to enter the Ilonggo market.

photo by Ryan Rey Genciana, patadyong and hablon outfit by Ian Jorda
Although this industry is predominantly female, the exhibition will cater for men as well. With a growing male interest in the beauty industry, we cannot afford to ignore the masculine side.

The fiber fair is set out to draw visitors from influential target markets. It is also geared at providing exhibitors that essential part of marketing such as direct communications with future clients. Apart from showcasing their products and services, exhibitors will have the opportunity to educate the industry and clients about hand-loomed fabrics. The event is seen as a catalyst for success and advancement in the Panay weaving industry.

The 4th Fiber Fashion Fair will take place at the Activity Center of SM City Iloilo on August 24-28, 2011. With display and exhibitions from the weaving municipalities of Miag-ao, Oton, Igbaras, Dueñas and Badiangan, Iloilo on August 24-28 at the lower ground floor area fronting Toy Kingdom. Daily fashion shows starting on August 26 at the SM City activity center will feature Lexter Badaña for Habol Aninipay at 5 p.m.; a bag fashion show featuring St. Joseph School-Iloilo at 6 p.m. and Jet Salcedo for Hablon Moda at 7 p.m. August 27 will have Greg Sintin for Habol Ilonggo at 5 p.m.; the Napulak Ladies Circle of the municipality of Igbaras in their hablon fashion show at 6 p.m. and Sidney Eculla for Anyag at 7 p.m. The last day of the series of fashion shows will feature the Municipality of Oton in their hablon outfits at 6 p.m. and Jay Masangya for Piña Moda at 7 p.m.

This annual industry event is jointly organized by SM City Iloilo in cooperation with GMA-6 Iloilo, The News Today, Graphic etc. Printhaus, Iloilo Grand Hotel, New Asia Holidays Corporation, Golden Krafty Enterprises, IVQ Landholdings Inc., Beauty Dynamics Facial Care Center, Villa Darroca, Escas, Deocampos Barquillos, Biscocho Haus, Glecas Catering and Food Services and KRS Catering.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Weaving Strength and Beauty in Abaca

abacca from Janiuay, Iloilo
There is vast amount of indigenous fibers that can be found in the Philippines. And one of the most popular is abaca.

Grown as a commercial crop, abaca is a species of banana native to our country. Called as Manila hemp to the international community, it grows about 15 feet tall with a total lifespan of about 10 years. Its sheath or covering around its trunk contain a valuable fiber known for its high tensile strength.

To produce the fiber, the primary and secondary sheaths are separated---a process called tuxying, and then stripped to get the fibers. It is then dried usually following tradition way of sun-drying and the fibers are spun into twines or cordage. These coarse fibers range from 5 to 1.5 feet in length is of great economic importance to Filipinos.

Classified as a hard fiber, the toughest natural fiber in the world, it is used primarily for rope due to its durability and flexibility and its resistance to salt water damage. It became a popular material for ship's lines and fishing nets.

Not known to many, the abaca produced in our country remains to be favorably competitive over the one produced by Ecuador, the only other commercial producer of abaca in the world. Eighty-five percent of abaca production in the international market is dominated by the Philippines and the remaining percentage comes from Ecuador.

As a lead exporter of this type of fiber, the abaca industry remains as one of our country's major sources of employment sustaining more than 1.5 million Filipinos that directly and indirectly depend on it for their livelihood (source: The Competitive Advantage of Philippine Fibers in the International Market: A Learning Experience," presented by Administrator Cecilia Gloria J. Soriano, administrator of the Fiber Industry Development Administration, 2008).

photo by Boboy Librodo

People have found many ways to use the abaca fiber as raw material for their products such as in handcrafts like bags, hats, carpet, footwear, fashion accessories, furniture, clothing---as a textile material or as a blending material with silk, piña or polyester in the production of high-end fabrics.

There is a great potential for our fiber industry, although there is still a need to expand programs on abaca, rehabilitation and maintenance of abaca farms Iloilo, provide facilities to fully utilize the farmers’ produce, conduct livelihood trainings, and partner with private institutions for added investments.

photo by JV Perez (PALI)

Lead government agencies such as the Iloilo Provincial Government through the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism and other concerned stakeholders such as SM City Iloilo became more aggressive in their efforts of supporting this industry and has given abaca its long-overdue recognition for the many contributions not only in the fashion industry but more so in the livelihood of so many Ilonggos.

This collaborative partnership resulted to the mounting of the annual celebration of Indigenous Fashion Fiber Fair. This year, with more visible products made from abaca found in the fashion industry produced from towns such as Janiuay and Igbaras, the 4th Indigenous Fashion Fiber Fair will be held on August 24 -28, 2011 at the SM City Activity Center. See abaca fiber textiles hand dyed into subtle earth tones or riotous tropical hues, interwoven with metallic threads, and turned into an almost limitless variety.

We invite you to view our exhibit section from August 24-28 at the ground floor of SM City Iloilo fronting Toy Kingdom as well as to our daily fashion shows starting on August 26-28 at the activity center for a better idea on the use of these cloths.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Iloilo Embraces Eco-Chic Bayong Bags

Ilonggo bag designers with their personalized hand-painted bayongs, photo by Ryan Rey Genciana

Indigenous to our country's warm and wet climate, the buri tree has been flourishing on Philippine soil for centuries, long before the Spaniards found our shores. A buri palm tree, growing really huge produces flower once in its life. And after it produce a large number of small round fruits, it dies. Its leaves grow up to five meters long. From this tree, three types of fibers are obtained: buri, raffia, and buntal and are turned in a whole range of products, such as fans, hats, baskets, shoes, and bags, the most popular one is the Bayong.

hand-painted mermaid by Ilonggo artist Trina Ascalon,  photo by Ryan Rey Genciana
For those who are not familiar with a “Bayong”, it’s a type of is a hand-woven native mat bag made of buri palm leaves in the Visayan areas. Weaving buri in some parts of Tigbauan and Barotac Nuevo has been considered as an activity that maintains their cultural identification and community development undertakings. It shows the relationship of the weavers to their fellow weavers at the same time with the environment.

Before making the bayong, the buri palm leaves is cut and the center rib is removed. The two halves are separated then rolled in a coil, about one foot in diameter. Tied and held at the bottom of a pot by a rock. The coil is cooked by the boiling water, removing some of its color. The coil is then dried in the sun open and the leaves flattened with stick. They are drawn through a small bladed metal tool, which cut each leaf into four or five narrow strips and are bundled loosely and left to further bleached in the sun before being re-soaked in cold water for about 12 hours. The natural color has been almost completely faded. It gets woven then into a bag.

The most demanding part about making a bayong is not so much as the actual process of putting together the material to produce it, but more of generating the raw material needed to make our bayong uniquely Filipino.

hand-painted passport cases by Trina Ascalon, photo by Ryan Rey Genciana
Trina Ascalon, an Ilongga restaurateur and painter by heart started painting bayongs in December of last year. She gave it as gifts to her aunt when many started to notice it and started buying them. Presently, she and her partner Mario Gual are producing casually chic bayong bags with paintings creatively executed suitable for today’s fashionable women.

The bayong used as a market bag is now used as a fashion bag with distinctive designs and with raw materials that are eco-friendly. Thanks to Trina, these bayongs are increasing in popularity, invading mainstream and high fashion.

“Not only that we are promoting local products, but we are also proud that our products are made by Ilonggos. Turning these ordinary bayong into trendy and durable bags will open more opportunities for people in the countryside to boost their income”, Ascalon said. “It is also our response to the need of taking care of the environment by using this biodegradable material”, she adds. There are literally hundreds upon thousands of painted bag designs that you will find but you are assured that each one is produced exclusively only from on of the finest young artists in Iloilo City.

But perhaps the truly distinguishing factor of the bayong bag is that each piece is painstakingly and uniquely painted and embellished by hand which means that a lot of hard work is personally put into each bayong by the producers themselves. Their creative designs can raise the competitive level of bayong bags and will be used by people from the upper social classes.

Ascalon with her partner aim to export their product outside the country since many foreigners are in to indigenous products and surely, it will be a hit to them because this product is of good quality and have fashionable designs.

They already have sufficient supply of painted bayongs that they will be selling and promoting and the incoming 4th Indigenous Fashion Fiber Fair on August 26-28 at the Activity Center of SM City Iloilo was chosen as the launching point of these beautiful works of art. One of the fashion show segment of the event is to showcase one of the province’s highly regarded raw material, the buri or palm tree. The buri fashion show will feature new products using the tough but elegant material. Among the collections are teenage bags, summer bags, and the more lifestyle-oriented fashion bags. Models will be bringing out the bayong and will showcase them to the audience. Of course, the highlight of the buri bags is the visual composition, which incorporates lifestyle concepts to make more elegant designs.

There are more to come for local artists such as Ascalon who never contends herself with her achievements as she strive to do more for the buri industry, the buri farmers, and the country.

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