Sustainable Filipino fashion show helping sustain lives in the Philippines
Leading digital money transfer service WorldRemit celebrates the work and achievements of unspoken heroes in diaspora communities around the world, and President of Sydney’s Plaza Filipino, Inc. Michelle Baltazar is just one example of many.
Michelle Baltazar is no stranger to the struggle of being a migrant in a country such as Australia. Initially struggling to grasp the concept of having a dual identity, she now owns her title of being Filipino-Australian with pride, using her experience to guide her mission to bring her traditional culture down under.
So, when the Philippines Consulate General of Sydney asked her organisation to put together an event for some of the top sustainable Filipino designers, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to showcase the innovation her ancestral country has taken in the fashion industry.
The first ever Tuloy Po Kayo Fashion Expo took place in early June, and saw great success with around 250 people attending the event in the former historic Rozelle Tram Depot in Sydney.
Michelle said she decided to help put the event together when the Consulate mentioned they would be working with an indigenous Filipino community from South Cotabato in Southern Mindanao.
“The magic word they used to really reel me in was ‘Tboli’, which is the name an ancient tribe in the Philippines that is little known, and it was a passion of mine to just showcase them and their amazing work,” Michelle explained.
In support of the tribe and other indigenous communities, Michelle and her team said part of the funds from the expo would be donated to them to support their weaving of traditional fabrics, an art form of hundreds of years that is dying due to cheaper manufactured clothing.
Also supporting the communities living in regional areas of the Philippines is WorldRemit, who have partnered with local Filipino businesses from Aparri to Jolo to ensure receivers can instantly pick up cash remittances without having to travel so far or worry about an internet connection.
By connecting with leading names in the Philippines such as M Lhuillier, Cebuana Lhuillier, BDO, Metrobank and Palawan Pawnshops, WorldRemit has created more ways for Filipino-Australians like Michelle to connect to loved ones in the Philippines.
“I send a lot of money back home, maybe half my salary, and like most Filipinos, a lot of my family still lives over there and it will certainly continue to be part of my lifestyle to be able to send money back for special occasions,” Michelle said.
“For as long as I have family back home, I will always feel the need to share the blessings I have here with them.”
Last year, the Philippines was WorldRemit’s largest receive market globally, with the company processing around 180,000 transactions to the Southeast Asian nation each month. According to the company’s research, education was the number one reason for people to send money back to the Philippines, with women sending around 2% more on average than their male counterparts.
Michelle said it is also important to educate people living in Australia more about the culture in the Philippines because it forms a major part of the diverse culture in the nation, particularly in New South Wales, which is currently home to over 40% of the Filipino diaspora in Australia.
The event organisers decided to create greater understanding and appreciation of the culture in the Philippines by keeping the event’s name Filipino language.
A Tagalog phrase commonly used by Filipinos to welcome guests into their homes, Tuloy Po Kayo was chosen to ensure guests felt they had been completely embraced by Filipino culture throughout the event.
“This was our way of showing how the Filipino community is welcoming Australia into our homes, and at the same time, how the Australian community is welcoming us into their homes,” Michelle explained.
For the future after the , Michelle said she would like to see a greater understanding and appreciation of Filipino culture across the wider Australia society.