These women are riding the waves in traditional Filipiniana style

Published June 14, 2021, 11:29 AM

by John Legaspi

Artist Archie Geotina and photographer Bren Lopez-Fuentes capture Pinay surfers in action wearing Filipiniana

Ikit Agudo

A woman in Filipiniana is an image of grace, elegance, and, of course, beauty. Think of Federico Alcuaz’s “Tres Marias” series and Fernando Amorsolo’s “Dalagang Bukid“—Filipinas in traditional garb are the very definition of “hindi makabasag pinggan,” with hands folded delicately, always serene-looking.

But at some point, ladies in Filipinianas have been viewed as an image of restricted spirit. That women, like the fictional character Maria Clara of “Noli Me Tangere,” were always in need of help. Although resilient, they didn’t have a voice. Aiming to change that notion is Filipino artist Archie Geotina and photographer Bren Lopez-Fuentes by capturing modern Pinays riding the waves while wearing Filipinianas.

Aping Agudo

Aptly called “Pearls,” the photo series merges the traditional and the modern by having ageless fashion combined with today’s sport in one image. The black and white images reflect what Filipinas are before and today, celebrating their soft power as they face tidal waves through the years.

“Throughout the history of the Philippines, women in formal Filipiniana wear were considered meek, shy, and weak. Here, the muses are captured in their element in all their glory,” Archie says. “‘Pearls’ truly captures the essence of the strength and resilience of Filipina women in this country.”

According to Archie, the idea of doing the photo series started after “Lakbay Ng 105 Milyon,” his 2020 epic mural along Salcedo Underpass. While the artist has been doing this for a decade, capturing surfers Aping and Ikit Agudo in action has its own set of challenges.

“Challenge was for Ikit and Aping surfing with the costumes on. It’s not easy to surf as great as them. But it’s harder with traditional clothing on,” Archie says.

“Philippine surfers Ikit and Aping Agudo, like pearls, embody this connection to the spiritual realm,” the artist continues. “They are a force in the water, gems of the sea, excelling beyond gender limitations and capabilities with grace and passion… making a powerful statement in breaking the mold and societal and gender expectations on how Filipina women should behave or present themselves.”

Garbed in pieces from local retail brands Raffaela’s and Kultura, the two Filipina surfers described the experience as “kamatay” (deadly). Although it seems impossible to be done, the team is set to create a bold statement. And just like how pearls are made, beauty is never done easy.

Photo from Archie Geotina

Photo from Archie Geotina

“Filipiniana by definition is any material about the Philippines by Filipinos. It is the only thing left in our culture that is purely ours. We need to protect and keep it in the consciousness of modern society,” Archie tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “The clothing to me has both pros and cons. It symbolizes grace, beauty, and desire. At the same time, it was the clothing given to us by our colonizers to cover us from our former bahags. I think my responsibility is to put some light to it sometimes.”