Balik Saya Fuses The Past and Present With Modernized Traditional Fashion



The spirited, bustling city of Manila is anything but ordinary. A metropolis buzzing with rich culture and a broad sense of profound history isn’t lost despite the country’s big steps towards modernization over the years—linking the past and future with its charms that bring travelers an enriching experience seeing Manila in a cultural light. Apart from heritage sites and brilliant architectural spaces, the local fashion scene is something truly worthy of awe and applause.

For years, fashion designers, including international names have held the traditional terno in esteem with its structural yet sophisticated butterly sleeves. These figures have consistently aimed to modernize and immortalize this Filipino national costume, also known as the Maria Clara or baro’t saya. And now in celebration of heritage month, The Department of Tourism together with the Intramuros Administration and Manila’s 5th District Representative, Cristal Bagatsing fuse heritage and creativity with the Balik Saya project—a design competition encouraging up and coming fashion designers to construct contemporary creations for the baro’t saya using local materials.

The competition is open to all designers who have a knack for contemporary design—seamstresses, out of school youth, young aspiring designers and students residing within Manila’s 5th district. “Balik Saya was initially only intended for the youth. But there were a lot of queries from seamstresses and out of school youth who were interested to join. So we widened the scope from just the youth to everyone residing in Manila’s 5th district,” says Representative Cristal Bagatsing. “We now champion an advocacy for everyone in the district to further develop their appreciation for cultural heritage”.

Manila’s 5th District Representative Cristal Bagatsing

Heading Balik Saya as a mentor is renowned fashion designer, Jojie Lloren who is no stranger to a myriad of reinterpretations of the baro’t saya and terno. “We  hope  to  nurture  in  the  participants  creativity  and  natural  aptitude  for  fashion  design.  This  project  also  aims  to  provide  a  platform  and  opportunities  for  aspiring  designers  to  showcase  their  work,”  Lloren  remarks.

Fashion designer and Project Mentor, Jojie Lloren

Designers for the Balik Saya competition will be judged based on workmanship, wearability, design, and originality with the final output consisting of at least 25% indigenous fabrics like piña,  jusi,  and  inabel,  among  others. They will be evaluated by fashion big names and notable figures such as Inno Sotto, National  Museum  Director  Jeremy  Barnes,  Tweetie  De  Leon-Gonzalez,  Jojie  Lloren,  Criselda  Lontok,  Randy  Ortiz,  a  representative  from  SoFA  Design  Institute,  and  DOT  Secretary  Wanda  Tulfo-Teo. Five winning designers will be chosen and will bring home cash prizes starting up to 100,000 for the first prize, an  apprenticeship  in  Rustan’s,  an  overnight  stay  at  The  Bayleaf  in  Intramuros,  and  a  workshop  from  SoFA  Design  Institute.  A  special  award  will  also  be  given  to  the  “Most  Promising  Ready-To-Wear  Design.”

Intramuros Administrator Atty. Guiller Asido, Fashion Designer and Project Mentor Jojie Lloren, Manila’s 5th District Representative Cristal Bagatsing, and National Museum Director Jeremy Barnes

Apart from the exciting competition, Balik Saya will hold an exhibition of ternos and baro’t saya to showcase Filipino design and craftsmanship at the Destileria  Limtuaco  Museum  in  Intramuros with display pieces from Patis  Tesoro  and  Destileria  Limtuaco.  Watch out for the exhibit  which  will  run  from  May  17  to  26,  2018 and the Balik Saya awarding ceremony on May 28, 2018 at the National Museum of Natural History.

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