NAIA 3 exhibit celebrates ASEAN weaving traditions

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Travelers and tourists in NAIA 3 are greeted with woven attires representing the rich cultural traditions of Southeast Asia in “Woven Identities: Clothing Traditions of the ASEAN.” Photo courtesy of CULTURAID

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The weaving tradition of the Philippines is closely interlinked with its neighboring countries. For example, the collective use of ikat or the tie-dye resist method, golden and silver threads, naturally-dyed cloths, and backstrap loom tell of a shared cultural heritage, says Charisse Aquino-Tugade of CulturAid. “Due to proximity, these nations have closely influenced each other, thus weaving techniques and modes of dress throughout this region share a common structure and history.”

CulturAid is a group that “aims to popularize and give new meaning to Philippine cultural identity and heritage.” Tugade is part of the team that put together an interactive exhibition of clothing traditions of the 10 ASEAN countries, now on view at the domestic departure area of NAIA Terminal 3. A collaboration of CulturAid with the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), “Woven Identities: Clothing Traditions of the ASEAN” is one of the many exhibitions mounted in the airport to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and the Philippines’ chairmanship this year.

On display at the airport is a mix of traditional attires for special occasions (such as weddings) and daily wear. The exhibit highlights Indonesia’s brillliant Surakarta wedding attire; Cambodia’s traditional wedding attire made of chong kiet (ikat silk) or hol (weft ikat or twill pattern silk); Myanmar’s requisite daily wear of yinzi and paso; the ubiquitous Filipino baro’t saya; Singaporean Peranakan attire; and the royal outfits of Thailand, among others.

The exhibit is an offshoot of an earlier exhibition Tugade created in 2014 for the 47th ASEAN Day celebration, for the NCCA and Department of Foreign Affairs. “We wanted to highlight the rich woven traditions that exist within the ASEAN countries. After receiving requests, we decided to run it as a travelling exhibit for 2015,” she says. Among others, the exhibit has been mounted in various malls and other places for greater public access.

Tugade, together with The Public School Manila and Fabricca Manila, created a special design for the airport exhibit, which, in line with ASEAN’s goals, hopefully adds value to locals’ and tourists’ travel experiences. “For any country, the airport is a person’s first and last stop. Our impression of an airport influences the perception we will eventually form on the country,” she adds.

Mounting the exhibit required a deep understanding of the role each country’s traditional attire plays in society. “Depicting tribal affiliation, social status, and religion, traditional attire not only serves as ornamentation but also embodies the development and heritage of a nation and transforms an individual person into a bearer of tradition,” says Tugade. “You must do the research because every single piece of embroidery or fold means something.”

Tugade says she has visited many of these countries, and has consulted sources at the NCCA’s ASEAN library. She is also working with different weaving communities in the Philippines, including the T’boli, Ifugao, Meranaw, and Iranun. “This has helped me in understanding the wider textile landscape within ASEAN.”

If you’re not traveling or visiting the airport soon, take a look at the roving exhibit here:

Filipino men wear the barong for special occasions. Women wear the baro’t saya, comprised of a camisa (blouse), saya (skirt), tapis (overskirt), and a panuelo (collared shawl). Photo courtesy of CULTURAID

W1 D5 – (Left) Traditional Vietnamese attire for women. (Right) Daily wear in Myanmar for women includes a blouse (yinzi), a shawl, and a longyi cylindrical skirt that is locally termed as a htamein. Men wear a version of the longyi or paso, slipped over the head, worn at the waist just below the navel, and neatly folded into two panels. Photos courtesy of CULTURAID

(Left) Singaporean Peranakan attire for women comprises of Nyonya Kebaya, a type of tailored, long-sleeved top that is highly colorful with floral embroidery. This is paired with a sarong, usually batik (wax-resist fabric) with Chinese or Malay motif. For men, the attire includes a batik shirt, which can be made of cotton, silk, or other material. (Right) Traditional ladies’ outfit in Thailand is called chut thai. These are often intricately designed using gold thread and brightly colored silk fabrics. The traditional male attire, suea phraratchathan, literally translates to ‘royally bestowed shirt.’ Photos courtesy of CULTURAID

(Left) Traditional attire from Malaysia, influenced by a rich culture made up of Malay, Chinese, and Indian ethnic groups. (Right) Surakarta wedding attire in Indonesia. The women dress up in a kebaya (long-sleeved tunic) in beludru satire design embellished with golden brocade. The men wear a formal Javanese men’s shirt or beskap, and blangkon, a traditional Javanese headdress. Photos courtesy of CULTURAID

In Laos, the traditional garments for men (left) are called salong while those for women are called sinh. Photos courtesy of CULTURAID

(Left) Traditional wedding attire in Brunei. (Right) Traditional wedding attire in Cambodia. Fabrics such as chong kiet (ikat silk) or hol (weft ikat or twill pattern silk) with highly ornate brocade are used for the attire. Photo courtesy of CULTURAID

The traditional attires of Thailand and Laos on exhibit. “Weaving techniques and modes of dress throughout this region share a common structure and history,” says Charisse Aquino-Tugade of CulturAid. Photo courtesy of CULTURAID