Widely considered the Philippines’ national dress, the terno has the power to bring out the beauty and grace of its wearer and make her stand out. Over time, however, the dress was relegated to the past as other styles of gowns and dresses are more fancied.
Seeing the need to popularize the terno again, clothing brand Bench and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) organized Ternocon, a terno-making convention and contest for up-and-coming fashion designers across the country.
Ternocon is set to culminate on 11 November at the CCP Main Theater with the announcement of winners as well as a fashion and cultural showcase. It will feature almost a hundred terno creations from its 30 finalists and their mentors; plus performances by local groups such as the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philippine Madrigal Singers, along with other traditional artists.
The finalists, who were grouped according to region, underwent a three-day workshop and a series of consultations with some of the country’s top professional designers including JC Buendia for Luzon, Cary Santiago for the Visayas and Len Cabili for Mindanao. “Manila’s Fashion Prince,” renowned fashion designer Inno Sotto, served as the participants’ chief mentor.
Gino Gonzales, Ternocon project director, said that the mentors were assigned to the region where they belong to because they wanted the participants to “look up to people who speak their language and understood them.”
Seeing the designs the participants came up with, Sotto had nothing but praises.
“The Luzon designers are very confident. The Visayan designers have interesting things to show. But it was the designers from Mindanao who came up with very surprising works; they blew my mind!” he remarked.
“(Mindanao designers) have always been far away from us, and because of that, they have to make do with the resources that are available in their area. Their craftsmanship, the kind of embroideries they make, their use of colors are just unbelievable!” Sotto added.
The contest will select three winners each for the two categories: the Balintawak (terno with a shortened skirt) and the formal terno designs.
Tribute to the terno
The 30 finalists were carefully selected from last year’s Fashioning the Terno Mentorship Program. This was a project carried out by the same organizers who held workshops on the history and proper construction of the terno. It was held in July, August and December last year in the cities of Vigan, Bacolod and General Santos.
CCP’s vice president and artistic director Chris Millado believed that “a large amount of talent lies out there in the regions, untapped. We only need to provide them with a high-profile platform that will not only showcase their works but teach them the right techniques in designing our country’s national dress.”
In the meantime, Suyen Corporation’s chairman and chief executive officer Ben Chan said, “To honor the terno is to honor the women who wore it with dignity and pride.”
Furthermore, Chan explained that “wearing the terno is a personal experience that will surely deepen one’s love for the country. The same happens for the designer who chooses to study the craft of terno-making as well as its history.”