March 1, 2024

As the spotlights flashed, glimmered, and glowed, the audience was treated to a magnificent backdrop of intricately designed stone façade purposely designed to show the natural beauty of the stones and the ingenuity of the stone masons who constructed it from bare hands, pure artistry, and the signature Igorot hard work.
The lively music perfectly paired with the ellipsoidal lights and at the right cue and tempo, the models sashayed the runway in their Cordilleran-accented casual clothing, denim cowboy outfits, cultural attire by ethnic group, and Filipiniana attire. As the models walked confidently on the runway, each one graciously posed at certain angles to give prominence on their apparel’s selling points.
Looking at the indigenous Cordilleran models of various age brackets oozing with confidence as they walk the runway wearing our centuries-old handwoven way of creating fabrics with vibrant colors, patterns, and designs, I fathomed that these models are doing this not only for runway exposure but more importantly for the love of our Cordilleran heritage and the internal motivation to showcase our culture for the whole world to see.
This fashion show dubbed as Alapo: Tales of our Forefathers held at the Igorot Stone Kingdom highlighted the 5 I’s (Igorot Weaves, Igorot Models, Igorot Designers, Inabel Brands, and the iconic Igorot Stone Kingdom). It aimed to tell the copious stories of our ancestors through our native fabrics, Cordilleran designs and their meanings, the proper and courteous ways of wearing our native attire, and their “eternal commandment” to keep our culture flourishing for all the years to come. Most importantly, it was launched in a setting that clearly displayed Igorot engineering and architecture of using stones and rocks to construct sturdy and durable infrastructure that will stand the test of time.
As such, it sunk in me that we should wear our culture with pride and confidence not only during events or special occasions. These can be used every day through wearing accessories such as earrings, necklaces, or bracelets; Cordilleran accented garments like shirts, jackets, or pants; wallets and bags; and of course, the Cordilleran values of humility, hospitality, and respect to name a few.
Lastly, the presence of the regional directors of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and Department of Trade and Industry and representatives from the offices of the Benguet congressman, Baguio city mayor, Baguio City School of Arts and Trade, and other key offices showed the Cordilleran binnadang to support and empower small weavers, dressmakers, sellers, resellers, designers, event organizers, photographers, devloggers, and others to promote their arts, crafts, businesses, andour unique Cordilleran culture.