TAO, Inc. founder Marian Pastor-Roces tells designers to skip the island girl aesthetic and lean on Philippine History for inspiration

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — “It is time to be far more sophisticated in an understanding of ourselves, and it should be based on updated science, updated genetics, [and] updated archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics,” TAO, Inc. founder Marian Pastor-Roces said in her talk, “Designing Attitude,” at the 7th International Design Conference on September 14 and 15, 2023, at Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez, CCP Complex, Pasay City. 

She urged the audience to set aside the “island girl” image stereotypically associated with the Philippine tropics, and to dig deeper into the rich historical context that gave rise to uniquely Filipino designs. A main theme in her talk was how crisis so often has a pattern of breeding creativity, and how this is evident in Philippine design history, with true gems forming under pressure. 

Yakan and Maranao weavers in Mindanao, for example, produced mats and tapestries to cope with distress in the midst of past wars. Hailed National Artist Salvacion Lim-Higgins revolutionized women’s fashion in the fifties by designing clothing that women could comfortably wear to work as they joined the workforce for the first time after World War II. The Tausug, who are known for their fierceness in battle, weave their native attire and craft their weapons with aesthetics in mind.


Watch Marian Pastor-Roces’ full talk at the 7th International Design Conference below:

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