Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray marveled at how the barong was intricately made and embroidered in Lumban, Laguna, and now encourages everyone to support local products such as these fine garments.
Gray was named ambassador for One Town, One Product Philippines (OTOP) by the Department of Trade and Industry and her visit to the said town turned out to be enriching and satisfying. In her Instagram posts yesterday, Aug. 29, Gray’s series of photos documented her trip and new advocacy.
Wearing an embroidered top by Benson del Valle, she acknowledged the intricate process of doing embroidery by hand.
“Sa Lumban, Laguna, kilala sila (they’re known) for their embroidery, which is all done by hand, from the free drawing to the delicate patterns, to the embroidery process (pagbuburda) – what I’m seen trying here – to the cutting and placing of the designs on a dress or a barong,” she said. “Hindi siya madaling gawin. Nahirapan ako.” (It wasn’t easy to do. I had a hard time.)
And now that she’s experienced it first hand, she said she’ll “never look at another barong or piece of Filipino embroidery the same” way again.
Gray’s visit has been initially set aside because of the pandemic.
“Back at the beginning of the year, my team and I had planned trips to the regions of Philippines to further highlight and showcase our Filipino culture. But with how the first half of this year unfolded, that was just not possible,” she recalled.
Gray hopes that by lending her her platform to Filipino small businesses, MSMEs and other entrepreneurs, she can help in giving them “a hand up, to showcase their talent, creativity and ingenuity along with their stories in hopes that we can overcome the challenges, together.”
Laguna, being the birthplace of her mom, is a perfect “first stop” for Gray who was “greatly honored to be recognized with the title of Adopted Illustrious Daughter of Laguna” by Gov. Ramil Hernandez, Vice Gov. Karen Agay and other provincial and municipal officers.
Gray and her team also observed quarantine and health protocols when they went to Laguna.
“Myself and all of my (limited) number of team have been swab tested and are taking every measure: mask wearing, hand washing/sanitizing, social distancing and limiting number of people present, throughout all of our visits,” she said. JB