Sunday, September 26, 2021

Editorial: On Miss U fashion show controversy

IS IT right for Davao-based fashion designers to feel that they are being snubbed in the decision of the organizing committee for the Miss Universe pageant to designate a “Non-Mindanaoan” designer to dress up candidates for the cultural fashion show presenting the Lumad’s culture in Mindanao?

Whether or not they have the right to feel it is not ours to tell as that is but a natural reaction.

But let us carefully examine the situation chunk by chunk.

So the Davao Fashion and Design Council Foundation (DFDC) had recently expressed disappointment over their non-inclusion in the Miss Universe fashion event which is supposed to be held in Davao City next year.

This happened after the group discovered that the Miss Universe hosting committee had designated fashion veteran and showbiz designer Renee Salud, a “non-Mindanaoan,” to be the designer and over-all director of the event.

The group’s clamor?

Since the event will highlight the culture of the Indigenous people in Mindanao, it is only fitting that Mindanaoan designers should have a contribution on the fabric designs to be worn by the candidates in the event since they are “rooted to the culture” and are the “most adept and well-versed” to tell the story about Mindanao.

It is a point worth considering as it is indeed given that Mindanaoans know Mindanao more.

However, the group clarified that they are not positioning themselves to be the most knowledgeable when it comes to Mindanao fabrics and tapestry.

In Wednesday's Habi at Kape media forum at the Abreeza Mall in Davao City, DFDC member Dodjie Batu was quoted to have said, “We are not saying that we want to dress all the 40 candidates but what we want is to showcase Davao designers by dressing some of them (Miss Universe candidates).”

As a result, Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro, who heads the ancillary event of the Department of Tourism for the Miss Universe event, posted on her Facebook account on Wednesday that she has decided to instead cancel the fashion show supposedly slated in Davao City on January 19.

The decision was made to “prevent controversies that may arise from the statement made by the local designers of Davao City.” The decision was respected by the DFDC as they claimed in a statement but they said that the Miss Universe candidates' visit to Davao City must push through so as not to deprive the candidates of the experience and distinct hospitality of Dabawenyos.

In a report, De Castro said that they might reconsider their previous announcement to cancel the fashion show in Davao City which means that it could still be pushed here if all parties involved “will be open to talk to each other” and “reach a compromise.”

Over-all director of the event Renee Salud, however, explained they do not mean to insult the local designers, underscoring that it is not him who will be on the spotlight but the women weavers of the province who will be making the outfits.

De Castro was also quoted saying in another report they intend to focus the show on the local fabrics developed in Mindanao and not on individual designers. This is indeed a fair point.

To achieve a common understanding and goal, there is a need to re-anchor the purpose or aim of the event which do not target to highlight or promote any designer.

The issue is not even about underestimating the capabilities or knowledge of any designer or group of designers about Mindanao fabrics and tapestry.

Instead of making a fuss over this, all the parties involved must think of how to better present and execute their goal excellently. They must instead work together to help highlight the beauty of not just Davao but of Mindanao as a whole.
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