True ethnic fashion

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Thursday, May 12, 2011


ASIDE from their truly heartwarming hospitality, one thing which really left me in awe in the land of eagle dancers is the Natonians’ remarkable skill in their beadwork.

Being able to attend the 4th Sas-alliwa Festival of Natonin, Mt. Province gave me the opportunity to witness the splendid display of an array of colorful ethnic attires complete with the whole accessory ensemble.

One manifestation of our rich and diverse Cordilleran culture is our continuous exhibit of our native identifications making us distinct from neighboring ethnic communities.

If Bontoc women are known for their arm tattoos, Sagada folks for their snake bone headdresses, Natonians, on the other hand, apparently stand out in their ethnic accessories.

Never have I seen and appreciated accessories so colorfully and intricately made. The beadwork is done in such a way that replicating the designs seems quite impossible.

The complete accessory set would consist of a headdress, designed like a band which fits right above the forehead; a pair of bracelets made of the tiniest beads but interwoven to create a wide armlet to cover the wrist up to half an arm’s length; a shoulder accessory which looks like a mini cape, ample enough to cover the whole shoulders; a pair of long-beaded ornament which goes over the shoulder to the hips, criss-crossed to accentuate the torso; and a pair of long dangling earrings, also made of beads as well.

I was given the privilege to wear the complete Natonin ethnic attire. I have to say the experience made me feel, (forgive me for the lack of a better, but more appropriate term) truly special.

Being garbed in the woven ethnic skirt together with the whole set of beaded accessories could truly make one feel like royalty—ethnic royalty. Royalty pertaining to none other than the Igorot ethnicity we Cordillerans are so proud of.

Indeed, this is another thing that we should carry on.

The art of ethnic accessory making requires definite skill and patience to be able to come up with such intricate and beautifully-made designs.

Natonin, the land near to the heavens is a place brimming with this particular kind of talent and creativity.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 12, 2011.

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