Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sewn Arts Sunday: Maligayang Kaarawan, Oa!

This is my grandmother with her mother. I think she's 3? I know she's adorable!
Today is my grandmother's 80th birthday. So not only am I showing off how amazing the dress my great-grandmother is wearing in this picture, I thought I'd also share some links on Filipino textile arts. As with any culture, particularly island cultures that encourage significant cultural variation, there are many many crafts and textile arts to mention.

The one I want to note in particular is the embroidery and use of pina fiber to make clothing. Linked with the historical experience of Spanish imperialism, pinya shirts and dresses represent Filipino identity for many. I would recommend looking at this post by Traveler on Foot for some beautiful examples and a great description of the work involved in this amazing craft. You can also look through this pdf on traditional outfits if you like. Much of my family have chosen to use barongs for the men in our weddings; beautiful artisanship and so much less stuffy than the Western tuxedo!

For my part, here are some pictures of my grandmother and grandfather (apologies for the small scans; I got them from my grandmother's Facebook page, so I can't really get better resolution):

Below, my grandparents were demonstrating tinikling (a dance involving hopping around two clapping pieces of bamboo). You can see (barely) some traditional Filipino outfits for these dances. I really do love the plaids you find for patadyongs.

This one below is of their wedding day; my grandmother was donated this dress by a model from a recent Filipino fashion show in DC to use for the ceremony. My grandparents eloped, so my grandmother did not have the luxury of getting her own dress.

The photo is small, but you may be able to see the wings of the sleeves, often seen in traditional Filipino wedding dresses. Another example is my mom's dress:

I wouldn't describe either of these dresses as strictly traditional, but they exhibit some aesthetics very much in line with Filipino tradition.

So, today I wish my Oa (Lola) a happy birthday! Maayong pagsaulog sa adlaw nga natawhan! (I don't speak Ilonggo Visayan, so I had to pull this from online, and it's Cebuano Visayan... *sigh*)


  1. Firstly I'm super impressed by your grandmother having a facebook page! Secondly, what fantastic outfits, the wings on the sleeves of the wedding dresses make me think of birds or angels.

    Happy Birthday to your grandmother!

    1. Mimi, my grandmother has aobut 1700 friends on Facebook, so she super impresses me every day! :D So glad you enjoyed the wedding dresses!

  2. Here it is Mother's day, what a great day for a birthday! The photo is really beautiful. I had a look at some of the textiles, I love them, such great colours and patterns.

  3. What a very sweet post. I am sure that your grandmother loved it:) Thanks for sharing regarding the Filipino culture and textiles. Those textiles are amazing!

  4. What a nice pictures!!! We can find much inspiration in your post.
    The Moon Munkie package is at home!! Thank you very much, really! I´m impressed about all the things that you sent me. In a couple of weeks, I´ll be creating stuff with your incredible materials.
    Thank you!!!

  5. What a great post! I am so happy that I stumbled upon this blog. I love Filipino textile arts. The amazing skill and the beautiful products. I will be following!!!


    1. Welcome! I'm so happy that you stumbled upon this blog too! I hope you enjoy future posts. :D