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Davao City, Philippines

Habi Kadayawan: Weaving homegrown creativity, threading designers’ enterprise

August 18, 2019 - Sunday 3:08 PM by Kenneth Paul Senarillos

Article Banner Image MINDANAOAN. Eight apparel creations by several Habi Kadayawan 2019 finalists during the competition’s awarding ceremony last August 9 at the Ayala-Abreeza Mall in Davao City. KADAYAWAN SA DAVAO

DAVAO CITY – On its third year, the Habi Kadayawan Fashion Design Competition has continued to create an avenue for local designers to hone their skills, promote their products, and feature the culture of Mindanao.

Twenty-five talented designers from all over Mindanao showcased their creations which were inspired by the 11 ethno-linguistic groups of Davao last August 9 at the Ayala-Abreeza Mall.

Mark Pabon won the grand prize for the Luxe Apparel category. He received a trophy and P150,000. Meanwhile, Stephen Azarcon won the grand prize for the Fashion Accessories Student category, Patrick Gabutina for the Professional category, and Dennis Almoroto for the Hobbyist category.

All the winners will also have an opportunity to showcase their products at the Manila FAME Trade Expo (dubbed as the “Philippines’ premier design and lifestyle trade fair”) on October 17 to 19 this year at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

With its scope and prizes, the organizers consider Habi Kadayawan one of the biggest fashion design competitions in Mindanao.

“We are proud to say that this is the vision…to reach out to the whole of Mindanao,” said Dodjie Batu, the president of Davao Fashion and Design Council (DFDC).

For the organizers, Habi Kadayawan is more than just a competition. It is an initiative that aims to propel designers of the south to be known in the national and international scene.

“It has always been the thrust of the Davao Fashion and Designer Council that this will not end with the competition. This will be just the start of your new venture as new and budding designers, as new entrepreneurs,” Batu said.

Habi Kadayawan enables designers to thread through the challenging phase of immersing in the designer community and infiltrating the fashion market.

“I was exposed to designers, people that I can collaborate with,” said Kathryn Joy Fanlo, the Habi Kadayawan 2018 Fashion Accessories Hobbyist grand prize winner.

With the exposure, Fanlo was able to sell her products both in the local and international markets.

“I’m glad to say that the first two entries I had the other year, the pair of earrings are now in New York. The bag that I designed the other year is being sold in Spain. And then, for the piece that won last year, I plan to have it available in Duty Free this year,” she said.

Despite being considerably new to the fashion scene, Habi Kadayawan participants have consistently produced export-quality products. 

Maraming talents coming from…Mindanao. Yung mga pino-produce natin dito is world class,” said the head of Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) Gene Rose Tecson during the Habi Kadayawan 2019 awarding ceremony.

(There are a lot of talents coming from Mindanao. What we produce here are world class.)

But aside from marketing the products, designers should also give back to the community, according to Carmeala Alcantara, the Habi Kadayawan 2018 Fashion Accessories Professional grand prize winner.

She said that on the designers’ quest to highlight “what we have here in Mindanao,'' they should “not just use the materials that are being done by our indigenous tribes.” Instead, they should “co-create” and “assimilate” with different cultural communities for them to be guided in their designs and for the communities to be properly acknowledged.

This inclusive framework is described by Batu as a “sustainable opportunity” as it uplifts both designers and communities in Mindanao.

“The winners will not be the only winners. We are all winners here because we can showcase what we have and we know that this is a very good platform for everybody to show our talents, especially show our culture and heritage,” he said.