Stylewise IMFITPWhen my eldest brother got married a little over two years ago, it was at a beautiful resort in Boracay. The bride was resplendent in beaded white, the beach ceremony glorious against the marbled afternoon sky. Afterward, everyone gorged on the huge buffet until well into the night and got merrily, blisteringly drunk.

Early in the morning, when almost all the guests had returned to their hotel rooms and only a handful of us were left nursing our drinks, a trio of Danish tourists ambled into the party tent. Apparently, they’d been watching the wedding earlier with a crowd of curious vacationers. “Congratulations!” they said to my brother and sister-in-law, who thanked them with an offer of free booze. “Okay!” said the jovial threesome, and they sat down at our table.

The girl, in board shorts and vendor-braided hair, sat next to me. Almost immediately, she struck up a conversation about the necklace I was wearing. “Wow, where did you get it?” she asked. “Can I touch it?” I took it off and let her put it on—she looked so excited!

The necklace she asked to see is one of my favorites to this day. It's made of multiple strands of red and gold beads and certainly very pretty, but for Filipina girls, it’s probably nothing out of the ordinary.

“Where did you get it?” she pressed, fingering the beads. “It looks exactly like the ones the natives wear!” Stifling my laughter—after all, I’m pretty much a native—I told her I’d bought it the year before at D’Mall. “That’s here, in Boracay!” she exclaimed. She asked for detailed directions to the exact booth, and if it was likely they still had the same necklace after so many months—and if I would mind very much if she copied me. (Girls: we’re the same all over the world.)

Of course I said I wouldn’t mind at all. Then she asked how much it had cost, and I told her I'd paid P350 for it. Originally it was P400, but being the tiangge queen that I am, I didn’t think it was worth the extra P50.

She counted out a few numbers on her fingers. “But that’s only... $7!” I nodded, feeling mighty proud of myself. This girl couldn’t get over my necklace! “In Europe, these are so expensive,” she gushed. “You can’t find anything like them.”

This made me realize something that many us take for granted because we were born and bred in this country—I know I don’t think twice about it on a regular day. We’ve got a real flavor when it comes to fashion, whether we are aware of it or not. It's something that stems from our culture, our climate, our economy, and our unique Pinoy sensibilities. And not just a flavor, but an edge, too—a style-savvy quality that makes our homegrown fashion industry special in its own right. To quote, well, everyone—it’s more fun in the Philippines!

Here are six reasons why.

(Flashbox photo from The Devil Wears Prada courtesy of 20th Century Fox. Edited by Stephanie Castillo.)


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