Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Project Runway Philippines

Eli Gonzales

Can you imagine a show on a major network like ABS-CBN OR GMA with so many queer personalities for an entire hour week after week? Right, you can't. That's why Project Runway Philippines, as done on cable channel ETC, wisely sticks to the perfectly good format and tone of the famous international franchise, perhaps the best reality program showcasing real talent. Watching it is like peering into a hidden world (from TV, anyway), the world of Philippine fashion designers, where "individuality" is valued (see contestants' first challenge) and "personality" is the conduit. The language may be something we hear from our colorful friends in real life, but not on TV. After calling her work crap, Ava Paguyo quips she must "un-crap" it. The show trusts this strangeness to translate, and that's a relatively brave move on Philippine television. Similarly, whenever someone utters the word "fabulous", it sounds like the most overkilled cliche that it is.

Speaking of personality, there's enough of it to keep things interesting. Eli Gonzales bounces like a floozy gym bunny, and his cheerful nonchalance is refreshing amidst the stress. Conversely, Veejay Floresca reminds me of a classroom drama queen -- his competitiveness is hardwired to his being emotional. I think the judges were too hard on Eli during the Hip-Hop Challenge, when they preferred Veejay's work, even as it infracted the rules, to further underline how much they hated Eli's. I wonder if the fact that Eli is the show's cutest guy has anything to do with it. We always tend to undermine the intelligence of attractive people, don't we? It makes more sense in our gay world. I'm rooting for Philipp Tampus in the final three showdown soon, only because he seems like a consistently solid, grounded, and humble person, almost like husband material. And my God, is Jaz Cerezo a man, a woman, or the first transsexual on national weekly TV who isn't a comic relief but an actual society-contributing talented individual with a voice? The judges have apparently been cast based on how much they resemble their U.S. counterparts. Is Rajo Laurel channeling Michael Kors? I don't know if "mentor" Jojie Lloren was of any actual help to the contestants, but those eyeglasses sure made the part.

But for all its noble stabs at integrity, Project Runway Philippines also, inadvertently, shines an unflattering light on the insularity of the fashion scene in the Philippines. One of the prizes is a shot at Philippine Fashion Week? Seriously, any of these contestants have enough talent to pull it off on their own. (Two have done it already prior to joining the show.) And Mega Magazine doesn't have the influence of Elle, not even in our own country. It doesn't help that, during the Legends of Philippine Fashion Challenge, there are no supporting visuals to cue us to the works of these masters who aren't exactly household names -- a spoiled opportunity at educating viewers. During the Terno Challenge, controversial politician Imelda Marcos guests as a "fashion icon", and it's a telling sign that thus far, Fashionistas in the Philippines have always been a step removed from the sensibilty of the rest of the country and, I guess, the world. Project Runway Philippines can often seem like an aquarium for the elitist self-importance of an entire struggling industry, but also its possibilities, hopes, and desire to create more impact to everyone else outside the circle.


Related Links:
Episode Recaps at BaklaAko
Positive Review by Rasheed's World
Negative Review by Jessica Zafra
ETC Official Website
On Wikipedia
Teaser (The Hosts) on YouTube
Episode 1 Runway Show on YouTube
Episode 1 Results on YouTube
Photos From Lord Maturan's Friendster
Eli Gonzales on Friendster


Caturse14 said...


I'm following your blog.

Bessie said...

Hi. I am a fan of Project Runway Philippines. I love looking for blogs/write-ups about PRP and came across yours. I think the show is really good. It is at par with the American original with of course the twist of being Filipino. Being in ETC made it less "masa-ish" which is good because we all know that the market of designers are not the Masa but the people who can subscribe for a cable. I love the show and loved the fact that they have real people in it. I know because the same Veejay you see in the TV is the same Veejay I know as a friend. As you said, a competitive drama queen.

I'll be watching the finale of course rooting for my friend Veejay. Though I must admit, its anybody's ballgame. Aries and Philipp is equally good.

Hope I can read more about your thoughts about PRP here at your blog! :-)

Anonymous said...

hope i can watch d finals in d fee tv ch 21 ETC..aehhe

so dat pic of one of the designer s really hot..aehhehe.. he really looks cute..sayang at natangal na sya..i was able to watched that episode where he got axed and the winning groups creations were displayed in the store windows of clothing line (cinderella) ...

gud luck sa mananalo!

Deedee said...

Aha, some place I can carp about this show. I actually followed it, because I thought something more important was going on, aside from the silly pa-English airs of the show (ano ba? this is PR Philippines. How colonial can you get? In this day and age? Good god!) I thought the final three--Aries, Veejay and Philipp--were good but why the top plum for Aries? Dahil futuristic yung mga designs nya? Hindi ba mga kopya lang yun ng 1980s Claude Montana and Gaultier? Ano ba? Colonial na, dated pa! Compare that to Philip who was consistently Filipino. No, his designs weren't futuristic but they were tops in terms of creativity and Pinoy-based aesthetics. Bravo!

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