Filipinos bring abaca fashion to Athens

Miles Viernes
The fashion show was a part of Athen's diplomatic community's ‘Meet my Country’ series

INDIGENOUS FABRIC. Abaca fashion flaunted down the ramp in Athens. All photos courtesy of Miles Viernes

ATHENS, Greece – “Banaca goes Athena” was a fashion exhibition by internationally known Filipina designer Dita Sandico Ong, the original banaca wrap artiste, held last June 12, on the 116th Philippine Independence Day. 

The show featured the uniqueness and versatility of the banaca fiber interwoven into the apparel of both men and women.

“This is part of our ‘Meet my Country’ series which we initiated in 2012 in line with our economic and cultural diplomacy efforts.” Ambassador Meynardo Lb. Montealegre said. “We aim to enhance awareness of the ingenuity and artistry of the Filipino,” he added.

CHIC. Banaca wrap is made of the fibers found in banana and abaca

Back in June 2012, the Embassy displayed Philippine furnishings and home décor that blended antique and modern designs during its diplomatic reception.  This was followed  by a showcase of Filipino music, art, cuisine, furniture and fashion  in May last year, when the Embassy hosted the Women’s International Club of Athens with “Meet my Country: The Philippines” at the Ambassador’s residence. 

Lady ambassadors, ambassadors’ spouses, and business people attended the event. It was the first time the banaca wraps of Ms. Ong was introduced with the WIC ladies gamely trying on the apparel. 

FIRST TIME. This is the first fashion show at the PH Embassy in Athens

Banaca wrap is made of the fibers found in banana and abaca which are indigenous to the Philippines. The warm, wet and volcanic soil of the country is suitable to the propagation of abaca. Abaca is a natural fiber, strong enough to be used as cordage for  the shipping industry and yet delicate enough to be manufactured into teabags. Its versatility is also manifested in the wide variety of products it could be used for, such as handbags, linen, hats and coasters.

According to the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) of the Department of Agriculture, the Philippines provides 85% of the world’s requirement for abaca.  

The Fashion Exhibition is another first for the Philippine Embassy in Athens. The Ambassador wanted the guests not only to bond with each other and partake of the delicious Greek and Filipino dishes but also to learn more about the Philippines. The guests loved the Filipino food such as chicken adobo, beef longganisa and native delicacies such as pichi pichi and buchi.

It was the perfect venue for the guests to be acquainted with and appreciate the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage, and  its creative and unique designs in fashion wear and accessories.  The show elicited “oohs” and “ahhs” from both the male and female audience as the models paraded the various designs and ways of wearing the banaca wrap.

Philippine Honorary Consul in Cyprus Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides wore one of the new collections of Ms. Ong in the finale.

After the show, Dita Sandico Ong attracted the interest of the ladies in the audience, including  the lady ambassadors and ambassador’s spouses, with a demonstration on how to twist, curl and fold all the various banaca wrap styles such as Mariposa, Mori and Corina. 

A reception exclusively for the Filipino community was held a week earlier at the Stratos Vasilikos Hotel (READ: Independence Day: PH embassy in Athens honors OFWs). –

Truly Filipino, the abaca is a great raw material that can be used to create different products, particularly clothing. Make a statement and express yourself with the clothes you wear! Go on an online shopping spree for your favorite fashion items with the hottest discounts here!