Fashion icons Ben Farrales, Joe Salazar endorsed as National Artists nominees along with Pitoy Moreno

Fashion icons Ben Farrales, Joe Salazar endorsed as National Artists nominees along with Pitoy Moreno

MANILA — The late Ben Farrales and Joe Salazar were endorsed by a large fashion group to the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA) as possible nominees to the 2021 Grand Order of National Artists in fashion design. 

Jose “Pitoy” Moreno’s name was also submitted by the Philippine Fashion Collective (PFC) to the NCCA along with fashion pioneer Salvacion “Lim” Higgins(Slim) and Inno Sotto. 

According to PFC president Carissa Cruz Evangelista, it is high time to recognize anew Philippine fashion pillars 15 years after terno innovator Ramon Valera was conferred the National Artist honor. 

“Culture is not only defined by history but also by its artifacts where fashion is also an integral part. It is important that we recognize that elements of design like weaving and pattern making in our fabrics also define our national identity,” Evangelista said, stressing that their group considered the influence and impact of the designers who for their formal endorsement. 

Farrales who passed on recently, was particularly cited for his distinguished blending of Filipino and Islamic fashion. 

“He gave Mindanao its voice in our national landscape by using the humble malong as his template,” director Jackie Aquino said.

In citing the talent of Salazar, PFC also shared the testimonials of art patron Bea Zobel Jr, Sharon Cuneta and former President Gloria Arroyo in their position letter to NCCA. 

“I was lucky enough to see his earlier creations and I have to say I have never seen such beautiful intricate works of art on fabric,” stated Zobel. “He is concerned about every detail and each gown is a labor of love.” 

In her tribute to Salazar, Cuneta stated: “Joe doesn’t just understand a woman’s body, he loves it. He is particular about details and his dresses are exquisite. He should be considered a national treasure.” 

Arroyo also hailed Salazar’s gowns as works of art. “Apart from the gowns I wore to my sons’ weddings, he made my last State of the Nation Address gown. He is a true artist,” she said. 

In the case of Moreno, the PFC clarified that it is a new endorsement of the Fashion Czar of Asia. It will be recalled he was already named National Artist in 2009 by Arroyo but the honor was invalidated by the Supreme Court after past National Artists and cultural groups questioned lapses in the nomination process of other awardees. 

PFC trustee Carmina Sanchez noted that Moreno’s family has not appealed for the reinstatement. “The Philippine fashion industry has its roots firmly planted on the legacy of such great men and women who have paved the way for this generation of new and younger designers — and Pitoy Moreno was indeed one of, and definitely foremost of them,” she stated. 

“In the words of his own sister Virgie Moreno, ‘Pitoy is a Filipino, Pitoy is a patriot, Pitoy is a nationalist.’ But most of all, he has led generations of other designers to continue and create, and with it, eventually continue the passion to grow the heritage and the industry of fine Filipino fashion.The thought of acknowledging other designers who came after him seems inappropriate, as history has to be established and in this case, rectified.”

Evangelista hopes the PFC, which counts in its alliance over 2,000 designers, manufacturers, retailers, fashion show producers, press and digital creators, models, model agencies, stylists, hair and makeup artists, and other workers, can assist the NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines in making the best choice for this year’s honorees.

Based on reports, other names considered as prospective nominees as new National Artists in other fields include Fides Cuyugan Asencio, Vilma Santos, Ricardo Lee, Bienvenido Noriega Jr., Mars Ravelo, Nonoy Marcelo, Celso Ad Castillo, Mike de Leon, Eddie Garcia, Ramon Revilla and others.

Nora Aunor, who was controversially shut out twice as National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts, is still considered a nominee in the 2021 conferment of the awards.

“Nora is considered an automatic nominee because she already passed through the process of two deliberations,” Nick Lizaso, NCCA previously told ABS-CBN News. 

“What is crucial is if she, along with other prospective names, will still be included in the third and final deliberation of the board commissioners and trustees of the NCCA and the CCP and living National Artists.”(ABS-CBNNews)

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