The true and unified Filipino ethnicity is not quite clear to many. Filipinos have long been divided by regionalistic differences. In a small country like the Philippines, people have to contend with different dialects, practices, clothing, behavior, and products.
The Filipino Race
The human race has a general classification of race which is primarily based on color. Caucasian represents the white races, Ethiopian represents the black races, Mongolian represents the yellow races, Native Americans represent the red races, and the Malay represents the brown races in which Filipinos are included. It has to be noted however that the definition of race goes beyond color. Color is just probably the easiest point of identification which can be used to classify.
The Filipinos are in good company with the Thais, Malaysians, Burmese, and the Pacific Islanders in belonging to the Malay race. In spite of belonging to the same race however, these groups have obvious differences. This is not all surprising since Filipinos have marked differences as well regardless of the fact that they occupy the same country. This fact has been partly blamed to the topography of the country consisting of islands which tend to physically separate Filipinos and the foreign influence which each part of the country has been subjected to.
Unity in Diversity
There are efforts being exerted to bridge the gap that has been identified to produce one Filipino identity. The institution of the Filipino language that seeks to include words from Visayas and Mindanao instead of purely limiting it to the Tagalog dialect from Luzon is one such effort. Another is the alternate representation of the national Filipino costume specifically in international events to include styles identified with other regions of the Philippines. Even the products branded as Philippine made now include a wide variety, each coming with its own identity from its specific region. The only difference now is that they now represent the Filipino ethnicity at its best.
There are materials identified with specific regions. Mindanao has long been known for making indigenous fabrics such as Tinalak, Yakan, Hinabol, Abaca, Mindanao Silk, and Jute, among others. Their use for more mainstream products was a long time coming.
When designer Martha Rodriguez found a best-seller in her hands in December 2010 via a circular sling bag made from abaca which she herself designed, it was almost expected that something productive will come out of it. Vesti was born not long after as a brand of bags that will showcase indigenous materials from Mindanano but will come in modern designs and embellishments. Vesti has since been operating under the tagline “Clothing Ethnicity with Modernity”.
The key design of Vesti bags is its woven material. The carefully-woven Mindanao material is shaped to produce bags that are modern and functional while fitting the lifestyle of modern Filipinas. The founder’s goal of building Mindanao pride with her products has finally bore fruit as she is wont to say: Yabang Mindanao, Yabang Pinoy.
It is amazing how the beauty of Mindanao’s culture and artistry can be seen from seemingly everyday products like bags. This shows that we need not go to great lengths to show how much we love our country. We can start by patronizing locally made products that will answer our personal requirements. Let us help celebrate Filipino ethnicity through Vesti.