By Hanah Tabios
While others are taking the streets for this year’s Pride March, the annual gathering of supporters and members of the LGBT community to celebrate and to make a call to continue to fight for societal injustices, a transgender member of the LGBT community is appealing for acceptance and support through her own art exhibit.
“Maraming LGBT member na gusto nilang marinig sa iba’t ibang paraan. May malalakas ang boses, may mahina ang boses and I’m one of the LGBT na mahina ang boses so never been heard,” fashion designer Amanda Jazz told the Manila Bulletin in an exclusive interview.
Jazz is currently holding an art exhibit in Edsa Shangri-La Mall in Mandaluyong City where her creations highlight various kinds of Filipino fabrics like abaca, banig (handwoven mat) and other Philippine-sourced materials.
Among her creations is a doll wearing a Philippine flag-inspired gown holding a glittery LGBT flag which she placed at the center of her exhibit holding area.
The piece has attracted several mall goers as it was a total head turner. It boasts of detailed beadwork made from thousands of Swarovski crystals.
For Jazz, who never earned a degree in fashion but is a proud self-taught designer, it was her way of making noise—unconventional yet meaningful as she was using her craft to make a stand.
“I use my craft, my design. I thought of that creation as a symbol that the Philippines should embrace us LGBT. Sana mabigyan kami ng kung ano ang karapatan namin kasi ang tagal naming hinintay ‘yon,” she said.
In fact, she was not afraid to share that she was a former pole dancer in Kyoto, Japan. But a Japanese businessman became a way for her to master her current profession. She was later hired to work in Japan’s vintage and textile industry to learn the ropes of fashion designing for several years.
“I’m proud na isa akong self-taught designer. Nagkaroon lang ako ng formal training when I went back to Japan kasi I was discovered by this Japanese na naging boss ko and nakita niya yung potential ko,” she added.
This was why in 2015, she decided to go back to the Philippines, and start her own atelier in San Mateo, Rizal. Hence, proving that the lack of formal training in fashion design did not stop her from achieving her goals and at the same time, break the stigma that despite her sexual preference, she, too, can succeed.