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Dom Martin de Jesus Gomez: For God and indigenous culture

Joy Melrose Cordova



Priestly vestments made of Philippine indigenous fabrics.

In the 1980s, fashionistas and the social set regarded him as among the heirs apparent to the fashion masters whose careers flourished in the 1950s and 1960s and who were reaching their peak in the 1980s and 1990s.

Gang Gomez, coming from a prominent and landed clan in Pampanga, had created waves because of his dainty yet resplendent wedding gowns. Aside from their elegant and classic design, his creations stood out for their materials, delicate embroidered fabrics mostly made by Filipino craftswomen whose vocation and enterprise have been handed through generations in the same families and villages.

In the early 1990s, though, Gang chose to pursue a different path, one that was sedate and simple. This time, he entered the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Bukidnon, in Mindanao. It was not exactly a surprise to those who knew him well, for once, he was enrolled in Philosophy at the University of Sto. Tomas. This time, he became known as Dom Martin de Jesus Gomez.

His was not a total departure, though, from the world of design and artistry. Right in the monastery, he came up with a collection of priestly vestments, this time using the woven textile of the indigenous tribes of Mindanao. This was his response to the Church’s call for inculturation, which advocates for the Church to coexist with local cultures through their rituals and practices as well as songs and vestments. He has since presented a number of exhibitions in the Ayala Museum and in Bukidnon, as well, allowing viewers a better understanding and appreciation of the melding of the Catholic Church with Filipino indigenous culture.

Today, June 7, we wish Dom Martin de Jesus Gomez, who has served as Curator of Museum Exhibits at the Museum of Transfiguration Abbey (MTA) since 1990, a very happy birthday. We hope and pray for his continuing success in his various uplifting endeavors.

DOM Martin with Consul general Tess Dizon de Vega.