Thursday, October 09, 2008

Project: Rescue the 'terno', jail its most famous wearer

So the next challenge for the contestants of Project Runway-Philippines is to design a terno for--or with inspiration from--former first lady Imelda Marcos. How nice.

The rationalizations involve the usual palaver--how Mrs. Marcos is a fashion icon inextricably bound up with the image of the national dress, yadda yadda. The contestants, at least from the excerpts shown, respond to such invocations with proper Pavlovian drooling, especially when they are ushered into the presence of Her Deposed Highness.

For an industry often derided as vapid, frivolous and out-of-touch, this tin-eared gimmick won't dissuade anyone from embracing that bit of conventional wisdom anytime soon. Mrs. Marcos might have elevated the terno's profile in her time--a dubious proposition, given how the beautiful dress has been tarred by the association in return--but she remains, for all intents and purposes, a criminal on the loose. Why is she being fawned upon on TV?

Lest we forget, the former first lady--one-half of the most destructive leadership this country has ever known and First Cause for the shithole we've been in for nearly a lifetime now--has never apologized, repented, owned up to or expressed an iota of regret for the manifold horrors of the Marcos years. On the contrary, she has been arrogant and defiant, taunting the nation she has reduced to tatters with her fake tears, her gaudy jewels, her seamless re-admittance into the perfumed (and no less culpable) set. Bring out the terno, happy days are here again.

There is only one proper--nay, patriotic--response to such incorrigible defiance: Ostracism. Indifference. Exclusion from any decent company. Until she returns the money she owes the country and pays for her misdeeds behind bars, Mrs. Marcos deserves to be treated not with any kind of deference or obsequiousness, but only with contempt.

And let no one bleat that this isn't really about her. Fine, so Project Runway-Philippines wants to celebrate homegrown talent and creativity--and, while at it, why not a paean to a cultural staple? Natch, awezome, goshdarnit. Froth and frippery are imprudent enough given the unrelenting misery of the times; top it off by wheeling out and applauding the fashion fixations of a woman whose rapaciousness required the invention of a new adjective in the English language, and the sight becomes positively obscene.

If this witless, retrograde excuse for a TV talent show is really serious about pushing its participants to the hilt, here's a good challenge for the aspiring designers--one that marries the impulse of art with the rigors of civic duty.

Design one of two outfits for Mrs. Marcos: either a jailbird pajama (in orange, naturally, with the P in big bold print) or a terno--made of poison ivy.

Get on with it. We're waiting.


the jester-in-exile said...

Design one of two outfits for Mrs. Marcos: either a jailbird pajama (in orange, naturally, with the P in big bold print) or a terno--made of poison ivy.


Anonymous said...

What do i say when you've pretty much said everything, gibbs? (And those last lines---I couldn't have said it any better.)

Imelda and I only have one thing in common--it's that we're both from Tacloban and Waray). Other than that, she's a monster. (What? Monster? I should brush up on my vocab, man..) She, and her Romualdez relatives.


r2r said...

For one, I don't hear anybody bleating that this isn't really about her. It IS about her, the terno is just a vehicle. What were they thinking? PUBLICITY! And so far, they are succeeding.

Some people think that Imelda, among other things, is a work of art, and should be subjected as such:its (her) value is relative to the taste and values of her audience. She is like a long-running broadway show that refuses to close down because she can afford to buy all the tickets.

Be that as it may. But she is also a criminal. And yes Gibbs, you may not agree with this but she is ostracized by the larger majority, except for some pathetic producers hoping to cash in on the remnants of glitter falling off from her fake hairdo.

But I am with you here Gibbs. For people who pride themselves as vanguards of taste, this one is not only tasteless, its nauseating.

The good news is that, like other tasteless designs, this one will go unnoticed, and wont have any cultural impact at all (the show and this segment).

Just the same, the sin is committed, whether there are witnesses or not is not the point.
I agree with you

(personal question though, I met a Gibbs before while giving a retreat to AGAPE, same person?)

Anonymous said...

salamat sa post. my sentiments exactly!


Anonymous said...

thanks for the post. it's nice to know that many filipinos refuse to forget what happened during the marcos dictatorship. i was barely 2 years old during the EDSA revolution but my parents made sure that i would remember what ferdinand did during those awful times. i also blogged about this episode of PR philippines here though with admittedly a lot less composure.

as an aspiring fashion designer i was extremely disgusted watching it.

Luis Batchoy said...

rightly and very well said! I echo the sentiments. If its not about her, it could very well be anyone else. As if she is the quintessential 'Filipina' and that the terno should be her 'fashion stake'...How's about designing a terno for, ahmmmmm.... the terno maker herself, perhaps? Patis Tesoro?

Oh well... Im glad I don't get to watch much TV.

Karla said...

I haven't seen the local Runway production, but reading about it here--wow, what can I say, but how easily we forget no? I read about F. Sionil Jose's walkout during Lucresia Kasilag's necrological service, and I think that was a brave thing to do.

rogelio braga said...

At ang nakapanghihilakbot sa atin - nakapaglalakad sila sa mga kalsada ng ating bayan na nakataas pa ang kanilang mga noo. Hindi na nila kasalanan ito. And yes, F. Sionil Jose, was brave enough to shame her in public.

Ipat said...

The second places is a sleek, sexy number in prison stripes. The winer would never have been Imelda, even in her day. She was not needed for this and they should have honored the other terno personalities like Patis. That book "Jammin' on an Old Terno" and that famous designer who was recognized as the first national artist for fashion design for his ternos (whatsisname again, am having a senior moment). If with these reality shows, we don't build on the great work of other people and instead use criminals to glorify, there is no hope.

gibbs cadiz said...

thanks, JESTER! and congrats on your recent PBA win. :)

JACKO! monster, haha. and coming from a fellow waray! :)

R2R, yep, i am that gibbs--of agape! hello, we should meet up again! :)

salamat din, LEYAN. :)

hi ANONYMOUS, read your multiply post, glad to know you share the same sentiments. :)

LUIS BATCHOY, same here, tv's a wasteland. :)

yep, KARLA, very brave. i admire the old man for it, and i feel privileged to know him and to have had the opportunity to listen to his thoughts personally. :)

totoo, OGIE--you used the right word, nakapanghihilakbot! and you're right, too, it's our fault they're able to do that. :)

hi IPAT, thanks for the comment. it's ramon valera, first national artist for fashion design, and the man responsible for modernizing the terno. :)

thebaklareview said...

i too hated that episode. what we saw there was a "fashion industry" far removed from the better sensibilities of the public, kissing the ass of a patron who values beauty over good moral judgment. but we also saw young designers trying to think of ways to make indigenous fabrics relevant again. it's the dr. jekyl and mr. hyde episode of project runway. a pain to watch.

gibbs cadiz said...

thank you, BR. as always, your sharp, perceptive input is a balm. :)

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