Keeping the Traditional Philippine Wedding Gown Alive
By Jonathan Dionisio
One of the Philippines’
most famous products is the piña fiber. Born during
the Spanish occupation, the piña fabric was a symbol
of a defiant race against the rule of Spaniards that Filipinos
were forbidden to have any imported fabric next to their skin.
Now, it has become part of the identity of Filipinos worldwide.
Hand-embroidered piña cloth
This ivory-white colored
fiber is made from pineapple leave fibers and manually loomed
by expert weavers. Being labor intensive, it has become one
of the most luxurious indigenous fibers in the country. This
indigenous material is commonly used to make traditional Filipino
wedding dress and formal attires. But before a designer is
able to create a masterpiece using this fabric, it takes about
one whole week to weave piña fabric enough for a bridal
gown. After that, it takes approximately two months to complete
a fully hand-embroidered piña wedding gown. With the
introduction of Western fabric and other alternatives like
silk and cotton, Filipino wedding fashion designers have slowly
shun away from using the piña fiber.
Sadly, this once celebrated
fabric is slowly disappearing from Philippine wedding fashion
scene. Seemingly, more designers prefer to use more modern
materials. Even brides and grooms would not have pina fiber
in mind. But in the province of Laguna, one Filipino wedding
fashion designer has managed to keep the tradition alive and
continues to offer traditional Filipino wedding dress made
from this native fiber. She is Dra. Rhodora Peñaflor
Anonuevo of Piñaflor (Simply Rockflower).
Barong Tagalog by Piñaflor
Preserving the Tradition
A doctor by profession and a member of the Perinatal Association
of the Philippines, Dra. Anonuevo has been designing and creating
traditional Filipino wedding gowns and Barong Tagalog for
the past few years. Insider her shop in Lumban, Laguna, one
will see boxes of pina fiber with intricate designs that are
woven by hand. Following tradition, workers still use vegetable
dye from leaves and barks of different trees to color the
fabric. Of course, pina fiber is never complete without embroidery.
Dra. Anonuevo and her staff still practice the calado, a hand
embroidery technique which originated from Kalibo, Aklan.
Aside from embroidery, they also apply hand painted designs
on the fiber to give it a unique look.
Wedding Gown and Barong
Tagalog by Piñaflor
Such style and technique
has made her wedding gowns and Barong Tagalos stand out from
the rest. Each wedding gown and Barong Tagalog showcases pure
Filipino ingenuity and creativity. It possesses very intricate
designs that exhibit Filipino heritage and history. And most
of all, brides who have decided to wear this traditional wedding
dress walks down the aisle carrying a statement of elegance
and symbol of true Filipina beauty.
Flourishing and Surviving
Despite the existence of more modern bridal gown fabric like
Mikado silk, silk duchess, and French lace, this Filipino
wedding fashion designer continues to use pina fiber for her
bridal gowns and groom’s attire. By doing so, Pinaflor
allows the traditional Filipino wedding dress to a part of
Filipino weddings here and abroad. More than this, Dra. Anonuevo
continues to give the people of Lumban, Laguna employment
opportunities and a chance to further practice this tradition
which make Lumban the Embroidery Capital of the Philippines.