MANILA – Fashion icon Ben Farrales, one of the pioneering designers who first put the Philippines on the international map, has passed on due to complications of prostate cancer. He was 88.
He was the first Filipino designer to present a fashion show at the Manila Hotel in 1959 and at Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in 1984.
According to his grandniece, Leana Farrales Carmona, he died peacefully at his Bel-Air Makati residence at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“He exceeded all doctors’ expectations but eventually he could not continue the battle,” she said.
The Farrales family is planning an online memorial this week with his kin and long-time friends to honor his legacy.
Although he was already ill, Mang Ben as he was fondly called, was still able to mount his shows, the last was for the Pasinaya Festival of his community in Bel-Air Makati in 2017.
Best known for his Islamic-inspired designs and innovations, Mang Ben lorded the local fashion scene for over six decades with his stunning collection showcased in many international circles.
He was also known as the Dean of Philippine fashion for his strict attitude.
One of his models, Bong Regala, recalled how he commanded discipline on all his models, as well as respect for creations and couture work of other designers.
“I want Mang Ben to be remembered as the scariest and most lovable person you can meet in one minute,” Carmona also said.
“He was larger than life. He had this strict mentor image but inside, he had pure love for people. I’d like him to be remembered for his legacy and contribution to Philippine fashion.”
Over the years, he’s dressed celebrities, personalities, and socialites. In 2015, he was given an award by the Cultural Center of the Philippines for his work in fashion.
Message of love and sympathies poured in from his former models.
“It was an honor, Mang Ben Farrales …rest peacefully in God’s loving arms,” said former beauty queen-turned-actress Marina Benipayo on Facebook March 6.
“Rest in peace, Mang Ben. You always had kind words for me, as young Manila designer,” wrote Paolo Basa.
“Journey on…. I know the angels are waiting for you to make heaven a beautiful happy place…. I love you and thank you for so many blessings and lessons in life!” said fashion designer Ogee Atos.
Former fashion model Patty Betita said: “It is an honor and a privilege to have modeled your creations Mang Ben Farrales. Forever grateful. Thank you Mader Ogee Atos for sharing & tagging me in this YT video.”
Ben Farrales was born in Cotabato City on July 1, 1932. He finished his early education at the San Beda College and completed his degree in Fine Arts at the University of Sto. Tomas, under the tutelage of Manansala and Agoncillo.
In interview with angpilipino.wordpress.com, Fallares said that he would like to retire at the age of 80.
“At this age and stage, everything is a bonus. I have nothing more to prove. I have made my mark and people will remember my work” said the prominent designer.
His atelier will be donated to the Congregacion del Santisimo Nombre del Niño Jesus, of which he was the founding chairman.