(First of three parts)

One recent Saturday evening, Cebuanas who were dressed in their finest ternos descended upon the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino for the first-ever Philippine Terno Gala Fashion Show which featured two seasoned Cebuano designers, namely Cary Santiago and Philip Rodriguez, plus Manila-based creators Rajo Laurel and Mark Bumgarner.

Designer Philip Rodriguez.

Early this week, I sat down with Rodriguez, a graduate of Business Management from the University of the Philippines Cebu. He was motivated and encouraged by his late mom Edith, whose hobby was to dress Cebu’s matrons and young socialites.

Leila Ibañez, Cristine Misagay and Loren Ruiz

His fabulous collection is inspired by Manton de Manila, an intricate embroidered silk shawl with Chinoiserie-style motifs, which the Chinese merchants traded in the Philippines along with spices and porcelains. Eventually these products were included in the Galleon Trade that eventually docked in the seaport of Sevilla, Spain. By then the shawl became known by its current name.

With strong Spanish influences brought to contemporary settings, Rodriguez executed the classic terno into separate pieces so they may be easily mixed and matched for other versatile looks.

Maureen Montaigne, Nicole Borromeo and Honey Cartasano

For Rodriguez’s finale, he paid tribute to the Sampaguita flower via a cropped top and serpentine skirt. The pair was embellished with oriental cords and floral applique. Vintage filigree jewelry and a three-tiered sweet-smelling fresh sampaguita topiaries hand carried from Laguna by Ternocon fashion director Gino Gonzales and reminiscent of the Philippine National Artist for Fashion Design Ramon Valera capped the nostalgic yet modern wedding ensemble.

The models likewise flaunted marvelous custom-designed jewelries expertly crafted by philanthropist Jennifer Que Viloria of DiaGold, a major sponsor and presenter of the sit-down Gala dinner.

Elaine Moll, Bea Gomez, Sharuen Hafeel and Dindin Pajares

The audience definitely witnessed an unforgettable experience, made even more special as proceeds were dedicated to Operation Smile, an international medical charity which provides surgeries to children and young adults born with clef lip, cleft palate and the like.

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