Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Once in a while, we all need a Filipiniana dress to make us smile


gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Filipiniana dress mestiza gown
A mestiza gown

This Filipiniana dress (a mestiza gown, pictured right) arrived on the post the other day. It was one of those days that felt like I was on an emotional roller-coaster. I was on Skype with my mother – I call her once every fortnight and we talk for four to five hours till my ears hurt, I go about my usual household chores – and that is always fun. Then in the afternoon, my daughter told me something that a classmate had said, which for children might be nothing, but hearing it from my standpoint, I was a bit bothered. Anyway, mid-day whilst I was on Skype, Mike brought in this big box that I thought was another model train he had bought or something. Good thing I didn’t say anything as he handed it to me and said, “it’s for you.”


As soon as I picked M up from school, I told her about the dress. She was so excited that she rushed upstairs when we got home to have a look at it. When she saw it, she exclaimed, “it was even better than I thought!”

Before Mike went to the US, I told him not to buy anything for me but if he decided to, I said I really wanted this Filipiniana dress. He came home and I thought he didn’t buy it after all, which was okay. As was always his way (about surprises), he didn’t say anything. He worked it out in the end that it wasn’t much cheaper to buy it in America, and there was also the worry that the parcel might arrive in the hotel once he’d left.

I know I would find a unique and reasonably-priced Filipiniana in Divisoria or Quiapo if I was in the Philippines. As per my request, Mike ordered the smallest size (Small) and as I’m normally an XS, it’s a little bit big in places but that’s not a major problem. I’m pleased with this dress overall. Mike said, “now you just need to find a big Filipino party to go to,” knowing how much we love (hint: sarcasm) parties. There’ll be no parties, I just thought it’d be nice to have a piece from my home country that I could pass on to M someday.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Filipina doll in traditional clothing
Filipina doll in traditional clothing.
When we were in California, we found this square (not far from Disneyland) peppered with Filipino shops. I forget the name of this particular shop where we bought a doll for M (in pink, in left photo) and a couple of polvoron moulds. M really loves this doll but as the dress is made of paper, she mustn’t really play with it. They had all sorts of things there, even Filipiniana dresses in my size, but nothing that I fancied, really.

At one point, I even started making my own Filipiniana. I bought this beautiful red silk fabric and at first intended to make a coat. (My sewing is amateurish at best, I don’t even follow measurements and just snip as I go along, as though I’m Alexander McQueen or something). When I finished the body, lined and everything, an idea occurred to me: I could turn this into a Filipiniana dress. I bought laces and 3D flowers for the neckline. I had the fabric I wanted for the sleeves and searched the internet for patterns. This was years and years ago and up to now I haven’t carried on with the job. Hopefully I’ll get more inspiration as I now have seen what the sleeves look like in person.

I don’t forget that I also own a Philippine kimona that I'd worn at the Parthenon in Greece; the same one that I'd proudly worn when I swore allegiance to the Queen six years ago.
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Philippine kimona Parthenon Athens Greece
(left) at the Parthenon in Athens, Greece (right) British Citizenship ceremony

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