Ah, National Day. Usually the biggest event an Embassy or a Consulate will host for the year. It’s something that a lot of people either enjoy or stress over – depending on your role for that night.
As a diplomatic reporter and later on as a diplomat’s wife, I’ve been attending a whole lot of National Day celebrations and Embassy events from Manila to KL. Too many for me to count at this point – to think I’ve only been in the diplomatic circle for 5 years. (Diplomatic life does mean events left and right)
Such events are usually a good opportunity for a country to share something from home – their food, culture, history, the talent of their people. For us Filipinos, there’s usually a part of the program dedicated to how talented Filipino performers are.
One thing I love about attending diplomatic events is the dressing up that it comes with. I happen to love wearing Filipiniana – all forms of it. From the well-known Terno and Maria Clara down to the clothes worn by the different tribes all over the Philippines. However, one thing about National Dresses/Outfits is that they can cost quite a bit. I’ve had one too many fellow diplowives telling me that dressing up for National means parting with a hefty amount. The fact that it happens annually means you also have a repetitive (big) expense.
“This is so you, Carol”, my friend Miriam said as we entered the Frankitas gallery in Damansara Heights. And I do think she is right.
I don’t really remember when my love for tribal (actual tribal patterns – not the ones you score in F21) and traditional cloth started. But it has turned into a bit of an obsession. I remember my first piece (that I bought) being a T’nalak skirt from the T’boli tribe in South Cotabato, Philippines. The T’nalak is literally made out of dreams as the weavers have to dream of the patterns they use before turning them into a woven masterpiece.
Stories like these make traditional fabric much more meaningful – that’s why I fall in love with them over and over. And you know what? I’m extremely happy that I am not alone in this love affair.
I met Francisca “Franki” Turner-Shaik at the media launch for her brand Frankitas. She uses traditional, woven fabric from all over the world, turning them to pieces that are fit for the modern-day woman. She is creative and has so much passion for the art of weaving and helping out the weavers. I loved her right away! 😉
My husband and I are crazy about “Filipinizing” our home. While at post, diplomats are expected to entertain – to have guests of different nationalities (other diplomats, businessmen, etc.) over for socialising – which usually means talking shop over food and drinks. 😉 Those opportunities are a great way to showcase our culture and what we have back home.
So during my last trip to Manila, I bought some traditional Filipino accessories and clothes that I can wear to different events. It is often hard to convince people at diplomatic events that I’m actually Filipino because of how I look. My husband’s looks don’t really help either as people often think he’s Chinese/Japanese/Korean.
A week before December 15, I was informed that I will be hosting the program for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ladies’ Circle Coffee Morning that’s hosted by the Philippine Embassy along with one of my husband’s colleagues. Eeeep!
Though I’ve been doing hosting on the side while I was still in Manila (been doing it since I was 13 as it was a great way to earn extra money), I found myself excited and a bit nervous. Coffee mornings for ASEAN ladies are usually a great venue to promote country as a tourist destination. I’m huge advocate of promoting our islands to people especially since we’ve been getting some bad press. Some have basis while the others were written by travellers who just found themselves in the wrong places at the wrong season. So I really wanted to do well in this gig.
And two – if I mess this up, I won’t be just an embarrassment to myself but to my husband as well! It was even our Ambassador who picked me to host. So if I mumble or call someone by the wrong name or if I trip while hosting – arrrgh. I would end up beating myself up so bad. I hate disappointing people – especially those who have so much faith in me. (Thanks so much sir! :D)
In the end… It went pretty well. Whew! So all my worries disappeared by the end of that event. Thank goodness that the past 6 months that we spent in KL – where I was considered pretty idle – didn’t make me rusty. Most of the ladies even approached me after the event to tell me that I did a good job. That meant a lot to me since just days before the event, I was already having dreams wherein I mess it up because I haven’t been hosting and even reporting in front of a camera/crowd in months! Oh, and since it was my first time to do a hosting gig in Malaysia, this is really an event that I will never forget. 😀