Bacoleña is Calgary's next top designer

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By Adrian Bobe

A-Listed!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


SEATED in a corner while tapping her phone, 19-year-old Theresa Prietos was gauging whether her competitors are more than ready to “stick and paste” their art. Talking to her partner Patricia Burguete, she revealed that this day is a fulfillment of a long-time dream to express herself through clothes and fashion. “I had it coming,” she told her fellow Notre Dame High School teammate.

While contestants and boosters from a local high school are slowly coming in, she can no longer hold her excitement to start her fashion project. “It is time,” she told herself with so much vigor and confidence.

She grabbed a pair of scissors and started twisting and folding papers. This time, it's beyond self-expression. It's about winning and taking pride of being a Filipino---a race whose idea in whatever creative and eye-pleasing had the world watching over the past decades.

The thought of competing against international students in Calgary, Canada gave her the thrill of a lifetime. The love for constructing beautiful designs and structural dresses earned her a slot to vie in the Fashion Olympics Dress Competition 2014. Hosted by the Fashion Institute of Olds College in Calgary, this event turned the young Bacoleña as among the fashion rookies of Canada to watch out for.

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To say that I am beaming with pride of this homegrown lass is beyond the affiliation of being fellows back in town. Her story as an aspiring fashion designer and garments producer is mine to tell. After all, she is a cousin, worth calling "my own.”

More than two years ago, Theresa or Tin-Tin, migrated with her family in Canada. Both parents are nurses in Bacolod. The promise of living and earning abroad had enticed her parents, Jefty and Glorygen, to mount up all resources to be where they are now. Far from the laid back life here, the fast paced Northern American culture pushed them to work harder as a family. Both her parents started with odd jobs in hospitals.

Tin-Tin herself even set out as a cashier in a local coffee shop to earn more money. Her older brother, Nikko, started with day and night jobs on hourly pays. Each of their efforts never proved futile. Tin-Tin is now Grade 11 in Notre Dame High School while Nikko is working as an Aircraft Mechanic. Their two younger siblings, Gabriel and Brian are earning their way to become school athletes. As a family, they now own a house in Calgary -- a testimony of the Filipino resilience to survive and live overseas.

Tin-Tin would often find herself missing her friends in Bacolod. She is an active student leader and among the best students in Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod. Apart from being a topnotcher, she is also very active in Gawad Kalinga up to now. She even organized a donation drive in Canada for Typhoon Yolanda victims in Calgary. The money was sent in GK-Bacolod to support their initiative of constructing homes in Yolanda devastated areas in the province.

She may be all these and probably more. But one thing remains certain: her love for fashion fuels her to create a name worth taking pride as a Filipino. And so, she discovers herself creating a gown made of golden papers for the Fashion Olympics. Accented with glittery paper twirls, the body hugging masterpiece was among the top picks in what is considered as the grandest fashion competition among designer aspirants.

For three hours, all teams from local high schools were tasked to complete their “designer paper pieces.” The local dailies of Calgary reported that among the highly applauded student creations were Lord Beaverbrook High School's Map Dress made from discarded maps and the red carpet gold-tailed gown from Notre Dame, the academy Tin-Tin is representing. In her Facebook account, well-wishers from Bacolod were quick to cite positive reviews about the design. Moreover, the creativity and the amount of effort of the designer that makes it a piece of work worth complimenting.

The judges even mentioned that the classic design may “actually sell commercially.” At the end of the day, Tin-Tin and her partner landed at 3rd place among 19 contesting pairs. It may not have been the perfect score for her creation, but the Fashion Institute of Olds College invited her to pursue a degree in fashion in the University and complement it with fashion manufacturing degree in Vancouver after. I say, an invitation worth saying “yes” a thousand times over.

“I will pursue my passion for fashion in Olds College,” she said, adding that opportunities for fashion designers abroad are limitless as compared here in the Philippines. Her parents as well, appreciative as they have been in the past, dedicated to “support her in her plans that may only bring her fortune in the future.”

A little “throwback,” as the popular word suggests before I close: Back when she was younger in our old extended house, I find her scribbling in walls of their room. If not books turning to coloring papers, her art pieces would include cabinets and beds all glittered and hand painted with pastels and water colors. And I realize, it actually pays not stopping her to “ruin" the order of things when she was younger. The freedom she gained as a young child planted in her heart the seed that has later grown as beautiful expressions through clothes.

Tin-Tin is her own muse -- a girl whose Asian background of ethnicity and creativity is putting her in an international limelight who appreciates dedication to craftsmanship and love for work. To say that she might end up as Calgary's Next Top designer is no longer wishful thinking, we look at today and end figuring it out ourselves. By the way, proud cousin here.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 08, 2014.

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