Fashionista surgeons show off Ditta Sandico’s ‘banaca’ creations

Ditta, collaborating with director Raymond Villanueva, once again highlighted the indigenous textile, banaca, woven by her partners, wives of fishermen in Catanduanes and the Hanunuo Mangyans of Mindoro. Intended for a good cause by the beautiful, lively and elegant lady surgeons, alongside their smart, equally good-looking and suave counterparts, the gentlemen surgeons, who compose the Philippine College of Surgeons for the Underserved Regions and Education Commission and the Association of the Women Surgeons of the Philippines, this noble undertaking sought to raise funds for the group’s outreach projects in areas that lack sufficient manpower and facilities for surgical services that the people, especially the underprivileged, need.

The president of the lady surgeons, Maria Concepcion C. Vesagas, MD, speaking on behalf of the organizers, explained that the fashion show was “a project of surgeons to raise funds for programs of the Association of Women Surgeons of the Philippines or AWSP and for the Philippine College of Surgeons SURE Commission.

“The AWSP is one of the affiliate societies of the PCS. They have programs that are geared toward women, particularly surgical care of women, and are known to discuss issues concerning women and issues that nobody dares discuss, like patient-doctor relationship, disruptive patients and the like.”

She shared that the PCS SURE Commission or Surgery for the Underserved Regions and for Education “has traveled to several areas in our country which need and/or ask for surgeons to help address the surgical needs of the community. From Coron to Tawi-Tawi, from Sorsogon to Agusan and a whole lot more. This community surgery is just one of the flagship programs of the College with the others being trauma, surgical infection and cancer care.

Making special mention of Ditta, she referred to her as “a pioneer in Modern Filipiniana. For more than 30 years, she has championed the use of sustainable and eco-friendly textiles in fashion. Tonight, you will see banana and abaca, called “banaca,” in her creations, woven by a community of wives of fishermen in Catanduanes, an island in the eastern portion of the country. Through Ditta, a whole community of women are given livelihood, something to depend on when fishing is not as bountiful or when the weather cannot allow fishing.

“Ditta has also promoted the almost dying craft of Mangyan weave. She saw to it that the craft was taught to Mangyan mothers and youth. And she has incorporated the weaves of the Mangyan, indigenous people in the island of Mindoro, in her creations.”

She next zeroed in on the other show sponsor, WYC or Wear Your Culture, specifically the husband-and-wife team of Alvin and Evita Degamo who, “drawing inspiration from their two decades in the modelling industry, envisioned affordable and wearable clothes using traditional textiles from the different regions of the Philippines. Tonight, we shall see the men in clothes created by Wear Your Culture in weaves of the Manobo, indigenous people who are from Mindanao.”

She acknowledged the members of the AWSP and PCS “who have joined forces by volunteering as models, with some non-surgeon friends to bring you a fashion show meant to showcase our country and our culture. And with the Filipino fashion designers like Ditta and Wear Your Culture, we present to you the intertwined art of Surgery and Fashion.”

Dr. Connie Vesagas.

Other than Ditta’s creations and the male outfits designed by WYC, a most admired facet of the program was the professional and creative direction of Villanueva, who never fails to surprise his audience because of his avant garde approach to presenting and directing fashion shows and special events.

Indeed, it was a most heartwarming evening with every creation and model applauded by the appreciative guests — all these after a delicious dinner of steak and salad.

A good time was had by all who attended the Ditta Sandico’s recent fashion show, Threads of Healing: A Celebration of Philippine Weaves and Surgical Artistry at the Manila Hotel.