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Nurainie Ampatuan: Promoting Moro fashion

Maguindanaon fashion designer Nurainie Ampatuan works around the handwoven textiles of the Moro groups specifically the Pis Syabit made by the Tausug, the Inaul from the Maguindanaon, Tennun from the Yakan and the Landap from the Maranao.

“I use the fabrics not to overuse the design but I used them as ornament for most of my pieces,” said the 26-year old Nurainie.

Her goal is to promote the fabrics and to advocate not just the pattern but also the stories behind the fabrics.

“As a designer, I also encourage the potential buyers and potential clients to support the perspective of a Filipino brand, of a Filipino designer,” she said.

Nurainie gained recognition as the 2019 Hiyas ng Kadayawan, a prestigious title she held for three consecutive years until the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions permitted the staging of the Hiyas ng Kadayawan pageant in 2022. It was during this event that Beauty Rose Gandarosa, a 26-year-old representative of the Maranao community, was crowned the new titleholder.

“It was a great experience being the Hiyas Sa Kadayawan in 2019. It made me become a better version of myself, it strengthens my purpose as a Moro Filipino designer and most of all, I had the opportunity to discover more about our culture and identity,” Nurainie recalls her three-year reign which started her path to designing.

During her tenure as Hiyas, Nurainie’s advocacy was to promote the Moro peoples’ traditional attire, which reflects the  beauty of their culture which she wants to share to the world.

“Maguindanaon traditional attire consists of Banggala Sugyang which is the top and Inaul malong, a wrap-around handwoven fabric with exquisite patterns. I had the opportunity to immerse with my community and discover the potential of Inaul weaving in modern times,” Nurainie said.

Initially pursuing a nursing degree, she later fully embraced her artistic passion and shifted to a fine arts course. In 2019, she she took a significant step by launching her own fashion brand, Hilyah Signorina.

Her latest work, a Moro Princess inspired gown Using Inaul and Maranao Langkit fabric

“Hilyah in Arabic means ornaments and Signorina is an Italian word for Miss,” Nurainie describeds the brand’s name.

Nurainie's brand, Hilyah Signorina, quickly garnered attention from a diverse clientele. She has recently inaugurated her store in Matina, Davao City, which has been drawing a consistent flow of customers. She highlighted that her client base extends beyond Muslims and includes Christians. 

Heart Evangelista wears Nurainie’s inaul cloak in an episode of the GMA TV series "I Left My Heart in Sorsogon"

Notably, actress and fashion icon Heart Evangelista chose to don one of Nurainie's creations in an episode of the GMA TV series "I Left My Heart in Sorsogon." The attire featured a cloak adorned with handwoven Inaul fabric, a discovery Heart made through Nurainie's Instagram account.

Moreover, Nurainie's designs also found favor with prominent individuals such as Department of Tourism (DOT) -XI Regional Director Tanya Rabat Tan and Maguindanaon Congresswoman Dimple Mastura, who both embraced her creations.

Looking forward, Nurainie has outlined her aspirations, which encompass the creation of a men's clothing line and a ready-to-wear (RTW) collection.

“For me my technique is to really advocate the stories as a Moro not just as a Moro designer but as a Moro person in an existing community, kasi I really believe these communities need to be recognized not just from the pattern but the lifestyle we have as a Muslim-Filipino,” Nurainie said.

Her most recent work was for Jam Simang, a candidate to the Paramata Na Sultan Kudarat pageant. Nurainie designed a Moro Princess inspired piece using Mikado silk, Inaul and Langkit fabric. Langkit is a traditional Maranao weave which Nurainie used to accentuate the magenta colored gown.

“When I saw Jam Simang gracefully walked on the stage, I  suddenly realized how I possibly made the whole look with a narrative-based inspiration and the exquisite ideas that helped me achieve my objective. Indeed, creative fashion for pageants is a way to tell your story and to inspire other people to share their own,” Nurainie describes her first pageant experience not as a candidate, but as a designer.

Since 2019, she already launched three collections incorporating Inaul to her designs. Among her long-term plans is to launch another fashion brand after Hilyah Signorina.

“Sooner or later, I will be launching my second brand called Weaver’s Union of Maguindanao. This is an association that will help my brand Hilyah Signorina achieve its vision and mission,” she reveals her plan.

More than just dreaming of mainstreaming Moro creativity in fashion, her vision is for the community to benefit from the fruits of her advocacy. (RGA/PIA Davao)

Nurainie Ampatuan with one of her creations

About the Author

Rudolph Ian Alama

Regional Editor

Region 11

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