THE place is set, the lights are on and the cameras start recording. Everything is almost perfect, she’s in full glamorous black and I’m a stuttering mess of nerves. Who won’t be when you’re in the presence of royalty, much more the queen?
She may have taken a break from the fashion industry but it doesn’t mean she stopped designing. And now, she’s back to the fashion world, head held high and oozing with confidence as she shows that she is still the one and only Queen of the Mindanaoan Fashion: Guela Ampong.
Guela is very well-known for her designs of Muslim gowns, the aesthetics and symbols itself. Her name has been a by-word in the country and wherever a Muslim lives, particularly in Mindanao.
“Here in Mindanao, pagtinatanong mong Guela, agad masasabi nila she’s a Muslima designer. Kasi kilalang-kilala tayo as doing designs for royalty, specifically in Muslim society in Marawi City. Or not just only in Marawi City, pagnarinig mong Muslim talaga, agad-agad nilang nasasabing Guela,” Guela said.
Being the Queen of Mindanaoan Fashion, however, a collection of Muslima gowns is not just what she has to offer.
“The best thing talaga pag maitatawag mong Mindanaoan talagang there’s a fusion between the Christian and Muslim kasi sila yung andito, sila talaga yugn tumitira or nakikita dito sa Mindanao, specifically here in Cagayan de Oro,” Guela said.
With how famous her designs are, its no wonder people started wondering where she get her inspiration and ideas for her collections from.
According to Guela, she gets it from her experiences and emotions.
“Doon ako humuhugot sa emosyon ko. Once that I’m being emotional in the time, parang mas lumalabas ang pagiging artist ko, yung creativity galing mismo sa loob,” Guela said.
“Fashion became a way for me na parang dito ko maipakita yung galing ko, dito ko maipakita sa marmai yung gaano ako kagaling, dito ako mapapansin. It is a way na everytime na sasaktan ako, doon ko nailalabas, dito ko pwede ihiganti yung sarili ko,” she added.
Several amateur and aspiring fashion designer have looked up to the Queen of Mindanaoan Fashion and identified her as part of their inspiration. Her best advice for them:
“Wag nyo munang pasukan if you’re not that ready. Kasi hindi lang puro glam, puro kaartehan or puro lang exposure yung pagiging designer. I tell you that buwis buhay ang pagiging designer so kailangan mong pag aralan to or kung may skills ka na dati, you need to practice and practice it kasi hindi siya ganun lang basta makukuha yung insaktong tawag sayo as a designer or yung isang konsepto ng pagiging designer,” Guela said.
“Everyday is a learning process being a fashion designer. Hindi lang puro kaartehan, hindi lang puro nakikita sa social media na nakagawa ka ng damit tapos tatawagin mo na yung sarili mo now as a designer and now exposing myself to some of the events, dressing somebody, no,” she added.
Guela also said that the most important thing is “how you build your name with integrity and being committed with your clients.”
“Yun yung nagdadala being a fashion designer, yun yung dapat mong pagtutunan ng pansin bago ka magpasikat,” she said.
Guela is known not only with her creation, but her wit and kindness that earned the trust and confidence of her clients.
After taking a break due to the construction of her new office and upgrading her designs to make her lines globally competitive, she is ready to take on the fashion world with the new Guela.
And everyone is excited, taking guesses on what’s new and what more the queen can offer to Mindanao fashion industry.
“What’s the new Guela, its something more powerful, something more up to in competition, upgrading designs and more standards and quality,” Guela said.
“Since Cagayan de Oro naman talaga is the fashion capital of Mindanao, kailangan lang talaga ng mga designers natin na mag-upgrade,” she added.
Fashion enthusiasts and fellow designers will get a glimpse of the new Guela in one of the biggest event in Cagayan de Oro, and perhaps in Mindanao, the grand re-launching of Guela on June 8 at Seda Hotel.
“The Queen of Mindanaoan Fashion is now officially back and now ready to make the new Guela collections to all of you,” Guela said.