MANILA - A group of Davao-based fashion designers released a statement on Tuesday, criticizing the decision of the Miss Universe pageant hosting committee to hand over the privilege of dressing up some of the candidates for a side event to be held in the city to a "non-Mindananoan" designer.
The Davao Fashion and Design Council Foundation, Inc. (DFDCFI) said it was disappointed to learn that industry veteran Renee Salud will be the one to head the fashion show, which will be held at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City starting January 19.
"Call it proper and befitting, the Mindanaoan designers have all the rights and benefits to best represent the distinctive fashion and style of Mindanao, in the first place," the statement from the group read.
It added that it felt insulted with the committee's proposal to have them dress up local models instead, and claimed that they were not consulted regarding the decision.
"DFDCFI will continue to uphold its stand and will use all its resources and capacity to have this issue properly addressed by the Miss Universe committee, at the soonest. Should it not be, this turn of events will continue to become a blunder for local pride of place, where the President himself is coming from," it said.
The group's stand is backed by Alfonso"Boy" Guinoo, the region's widely recognized fashion czar.
Guinoo said: "I am displeased by the insensitivity of the Miss Universe Committee, led by Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo to allow Renee Salud, a non-Mindanaon designer, to showcase the tapestry of Mindanao fashion in the Davao event of Miss Universe."
"Teo, who is supposed to be a Mindanaoan herself, must have used her capacity to intelligently think about the impact her decisions must have caused our local pride of place and its people. I would like to think mediocre politicking has overran her."
Meanwhile, Salud, in an interview with ABS-CBN News' Mario Dumaual, defended the committee's decision, saying it was approved by Teo, and that he considers himself a Davao native as he had a fashion store based in the city for more than 15 years.
"I'm very sorry kung na-insulto sila but I don't mean to harm them," said Salud. "Actually, designer din ako ng Davao. I had my shop there for 15 years. And medyo nag-lay low lang kami doon pero I would consider myself a Davao designer pa rin."
Salud also deflected the criticisms by reasoning that the spotlight will not be on him, but on the province's women weavers who will be making the outfits. "Ang weavers dito ang shino-showcase kaya wala nang tampuhan," he said, adding that the his gowns for the show will be made out of Mindananaon silk.
Some 40 candidates of the upcoming Miss Universe pageant are expected to attended the auxiliary event in Davao City.