Second skin, I remember one fashion designer described fashion and clothing. And like skin, clothing or attire serves a very practical purpose—as protection against the elements and the everyday assaults of the environment, as comfort from weather when it gets unpleasant, as a form of hygiene. But unlike skin, attire is changeable to suit situations, needs and even whims of the wearers. But attire is also an extension of the self and the society, reflecting culture, aesthetics and tastes, and thus in one way also an extension of the soul. Attire is one of the ways to express identity and to show identification with a group.
Aside from its practical uses, attire, especially the traditional ones, has been one of the most important means of artistic expressions among ethnic groups in the Philippines. Aside from indicating social status, gender and religion in a community, attire also makes manifest the native aesthetics, reflecting sensibility to colors and patterns, penchant for certain designs, and interpretations of everyday life as well as spiritual beliefs.
With more than eighty indigenous groups, there are as much traditional attires, resplendent in their colors, determined by the groups’ preference or their environments, and rich with embellishments, signifying the innate desire to make things beautiful as well as meaningful.
Traditional attire, like the cultures they belong to, is constantly evolving, adopting from other cultures as well as adapting to the times, but often these adopted elements are altered according to the native sense of beauty.
Attire has become a mark of ethnic identity, and perhaps the most obvious and attractive one. With traditional attire, one declares his/her oneness with his/her own people, taking pride in the artistry and heritage that the attire so much holds.
Get a glimpse of different Philippine traditional attires from three indigenous groups—the Kalinga from Luzon, the Panay-Bukidnon from the Visayas, and the Blaan from Mindanao.