It began with a dream of an ideal: a showcase of fashion in GenSan during the Tuna Festival celebrations. The true star would not be the former Miss Universe contestant who is participating as a celebrity guest model, but rather the material and styles of traditional Mindanaoan clothing. This Filipino fashion as old as pre-Colonial antiquity was given a modern and contemporary spin by the brilliant imagination and hand of Mindanaoan fashion designer Jhun Ador, in a magical tribute to his roots for one evening of meaningful pageantry. This was the “Arise Mindanao” fashion extravaganza, held last Saturday on the second day of Tuna Fest week right here in General Santos City.
The show was held on the night of September 2, 2017, a day after the momentous opening of the 19th Tuna Festival, at the Phela Grande Convention Center. Feliciano, a proud local GenSan clothing label by none other than Jhun Ador himself, was the principal sponsor and the driving force behind “Arise Mindanao,” with their modern-indigenous fashions taking center stage worn by a who’s who of Mindanao-area models. Also providing their professional assistance for the grand occasion are professional makeup and hairstylist Jojo Magubat Suazo, who worked on the models appearing that night, and major audio-visual services outfit DOWN LOW Lights & Sounds.
Following a rehearsal model walk earlier in the day, “Arise Mindanao” kicked off at full steam with a spectacular menagerie of pretty faces and even more magnificent clothes that are totally Mindanaoan in presentation, if the presence of a genuine tribal dancer during the proceedings was any indication. Fashions ranged from knockout casual or semi-formal ensembles to dignified barong and business suits as well as voluminous ballroom gowns like the brilliant green number that Miss Universe 2011 3rd runner-up Shamcey Supsup wore during her turn on the catwalk. My personal favorite however was the charmingly cute themed dresses worn by Chie Ong-Sunglao and her two beautiful daughters that evening, an implied promise that every single outfit exhibited can be reproduced in appropriate sizes. The show was directed by Rain Rivera Ramas.
I’ve had both the honor and pleasure to have known Jhun Ador for many years now, ever since his humble start to his prominent position right now, owner and main creative force behind GenSan’s very own quality clothing label. Feliciano by Jhun Ador has already got a branch in Metro Manila itself, coupled with his own well-established connections with the biggest names in both the Filipino and international fashion communities. The success of Feliciano and his other ventures aside, Jhun Ador remains ever so humble and down-to-earth with a genuine appreciation for his Mindanaoan lineage and their fashion design. The impressive success of the “Arise Mindanao” fashion show is a cause for great jubilation not just for him but for the city of GenSan, and I look forward to seeing it perhaps become a new regular fixture of the Tuna Festival or of the city’s annual events as a whole.