FEA­TURE

Kul­tura Caved makes clothes with a mis­sion

Northern Living - - CONTENTS - TEXT OLIVER EMOCLING PHO­TOG­RA­PHY EDRIC DELA ROSA

A lo­cal cloth­ing brand links ur­ban dwellers and in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties

There is power in clothes. The hum­ble tee, for ex­am­ple, has been used to dis­perse ideas and to make bold state­ments. In an iconic meet­ing with for­mer Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatcher, fash­ion de­signer Katharine Ham­nett greeted the Iron Lady with a tee that screamed “58% don’t want Per­sh­ing.” It was a protest against the re­lo­ca­tion of US mis­siles to the United King­dom. Fash­ion la­bel Dior, in its spring/ sum­mer 2016 col­lec­tion, ex­hib­ited its “We should all be fem­i­nists” tee on the run­way. Then there’s Frank Ocean, who wore a “Why be racist, sex­ist, ho­mo­pho­bic, or trans­pho­bic when you could just be quiet?” tee to the Panorama Music Fes­ti­val. So, when artist Jaq Lopez found his de­sire to delve deeper into our cul­ture, he de­cided to do it through clothes.

Lopez is the man be­hind cloth­ing brand Kul­tura Caved or K’ved, which in­tends to raise aware­ness about in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

“K’ved was born out of cu­rios­ity for our cul­ture,” Lopez says. When he was in col­lege, his­tory classes left him crav­ing a deeper un­der­stand­ing of our cul­ture. He also ob­served that city dwellers knew lit­tle about the cus­toms of in­dige­nous cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties.

With this re­al­iza­tion, Lopez made it his mis­sion to con­nect ur­ban dwellers and var­i­ous in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

Af­ter leav­ing a cor­po­rate job, he went to his first com­mu­nity im­mer­sion in Sadanga, Moun­tain Prov­ince. Though mo­ti­vated and ex­cited, he and his com­pan­ions ended up vis­it­ing “dur­ing a sa­cred time in their com­mu­nity when vis­i­tors were dis­cour­aged.” They were asked to leave.

“It was a wakeup call that what I wanted to achieve was not that easy,” Lopez says. “You have to do ex­ten­sive re­search, build re­la­tion­ships first, and re­spect their tra­di­tional prac­tices.”

De­spite the mishap, Lopez’s so­journ to the north even­tu­ally re­sulted in his first col­lec­tion for “Pos­sessed Palay.” For this col­lec­tion, Lopez took cues from the mag­nif­i­cent Banaue Rice Ter­races.

From the Moun­tain Prov­ince, Lopez found him­self in Capiz and met the Aglalana Ati Com­mu­nity.

Based in Du­marao, Capiz, the Aglalana Atis cham­pion the cen­turies-old tra­di­tion of cre­at­ing anting-antings. Drawing in­spi­ra­tion from the Aglalana Ati amulets, he cre­ated his sec­ond ad­vo­cacy de­sign called “Anti- Aswang.”

Af­ter his first two ad­vo­cacy de­signs, Lopez ex­pe­ri­enced a slump. This, along with the im­pulse to learn surf­ing, led him to a va­ca­tion in Siar­gao. The is­land fu­eled Lopez’s drive and imag­i­na­tion again, but his stay also re­vealed the grow­ing plas­tic waste prob­lem in the is­land.

Upon his re­turn to Manila, he re­al­ized his third ad­vo­cacy de­sign: “Pi­noy Po­sei­don.” It aims to bring at­ten­tion to the plas­tic pol­lu­tion in Siar­gao.

Lopez’s cre­ative process al­ways in­cludes an im­pact project for the com­mu­ni­ties. “We funded a feed­ing pro­gram and street art work­shop in Capiz through Pos­sessed Palay and our part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tion Ad­vance­ment for Ru­ral Kids. We’re also fin­ish­ing up a Cen­ter for In­dige­nous Cul­ture to­gether with the Aglalana Ati Com­mu­nity through Anti

Aswang. Lastly, we’ve raised enough funds through Pi­noy Po­sei­don for a wa­ter re­fill­ing sta­tion in Cloud 9, Siar­gao to help re­duce plas­tic bot­tle waste in col­lab­o­ra­tion with SEA Move­ment and Save Philip­pine Seas.”

K’ved has trod a cu­ri­ous ge­o­graph­i­cal pat­tern—from north to south. Right now, Lopez re­sides in Malay­balay, Bukid­non for the Hinele­ban Foun­da­tion.

But it could also be a nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion brought about by his cu­rios­ity. Min­danao af­ter all “has not been get­ting at­ten­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion. But there’s so much go­ing on here and they de­serve a chance to be seen and heard,” he says.

“True to the brand name, [much of our cul­ture] is still caved deep within our coun­try. But if peo­ple from the city choose to go out of their com­fort zone and do the chal­leng­ing trek into the ‘cave,’ they’ll re­al­ize the trea­sures found within will en­rich their lives.”

“Pi­noy Po­sei­don” (left and up­per right) and “AntiAswang” (right) are nat­u­rally dyed us­ingTal­isay leaves.

“I think the idea of con­vey­ing a mes­sage through cloth­ing with one’s body as the can­vas could be a pow­er­ful thing,” says Kul­tura Caved founder Jaq Lopez.

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