Newly-minted Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray has always made it a point to champion the excellence of Filipino craftsmanship, and according to a report from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), she pulled every string to proudly flaunt traditional T'nalak fabric on the world stage!
Remember this look? It was the outfit she wore to a round of media interviews in Thailand prior to coronation night! Of it, IPOPHL said: "The T’nalak dress worn by Ms. Gray in her Entertainment Thailand interview and in the post-preliminary round media interviews is noteworthy because the cloth is being used following the guidelines of T’nalak Tau Sebu (TTS), a group of women weavers whose products bear a registered collective mark."
To emphasize the importance of this move, IPOPHL defines a collective mark as "a type of a mark that is used by members of a group, to indicate membership in the group or to identify and distinguish the products/services of members from those of the non-members. The members of the association use the collective mark to indicate a level of quality, authenticity, and origin that they provide." All of that, and a registered collective mark becomes a business tool, increasing the products’ reputation, value, and market price, effectively providing income to the indigenous group who made them. It's also proven essential to helping preserve a tribe’s cultural identity.
Cat and designer Jearson Demavivas visited Lake Sebu, South Cotabato earlier in the year to consult the T’boli women of T’nalak Tau Sebu on using their traditional cloth as a major design element.
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The T’Nalak Tau Sebu group was awarded the Collective Mark Certificate of Registration in July 2017. Consumers buying T’nalak products that bear the TTS seal can rest assured of handmade pieces by the T’nalak Tau Sebu federation following specific practices and traditions. Call it a guarantee of quality and traceability!
As for the actual fabric, IPOPHL describes it as follows: "The term ’T’nalak’ itself refers generally to the abaca cloth woven by the T’boli women. These are woven in inimitable designs that have been passed on to them by their ancestors through their dreams, thus their title as ‘Dreamweavers’."
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