Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blog #6 Dress in 20th century Philippines

I don't know if it's just me, but I feel like I am just understanding or becoming aware of the power of dress and the way that it has embedded itself into many cultures and societies. I mean, growing up I knew how to differentiate between casual clothing and "formal wear", but I suppose I overlooked what these different styles of dress meant and represented. Now that I think about it, the importance of dress and the structure of hierarchy that it establishes in many cultures is probably so hard to pinpoint or identify from within one's own culture is because dress is something that is with you from the day you're born. Some parents spoil their children rotten with expensive baby clothing and accessories, while others choose not to or can't afford to do so. Whichever way an infant is brought up, he or she is introduced to dress and a specific social status that comes with the way he or she is dressed by the parents.
Growing up American, I think many of us overlook the power of Western dress in particular. Many other cultures and societies see Western dress differently than we (Americans) see Western dress because of the U.S's reputation as the elite world power. I guess because we as Americans haven't experienced another nation encroaching onto our land and culture, we can't really comprehend the way we dress and act in the working world as anything other than "normal".
In this article regarding women and dress in the Philippines, we can see the way in which other cultures look at foreign dress, and label it with a cetrain meaning.
It was very interesting for me to see how Filipinos embraced Western dress and identified the suit and jacket as powerful and the traditional terno and panuelo as inferior. Filipino men, being allowed to vote and run for office, wore the suit and jacket, while women had to wear a terno or panuelo. This dress "binary" exemplified the way in which men were seen as powerful and women were seen as the conquered or colonized; almost reinacting the very relationship between the Spanish and the Philippines as well as the United States and the Philippines.
To me its also just very interesting in the way in which different cultures label Western culture and Western dress differently based on their relationship with the country. I figured that the Philippines just as any other country that was conquered by the United States, would see Western culture and Western dress as negative or threatening. Yet the Philippines as a nation has embraced American dress and culture.
Even though the weather can be extremely hot and humid, in the Philippines it is seen as appropriate for men to wear "a long sleeved shirt with a necktie" even by foreigners.
In regards to the compact challenge, I have sort of changed the way in which I go about buying clothing and accessories, based on the discussion we've had over the last two classes. I think that excessively buying to help our economy, its definitely important to note that it's not excessive buying that will help the economy, but to consume the American produced products. Even though American made products are more expensive, I think instead of excessively buying cheaply produced clohting and accessories, or not consuming at all, we should start to target what we consume pertaining to where the product is manufactured. Because our nation is hardly a producer of anything anymore, it's really hard to buy certain products that are made in America, but as long as I live here, I'm going to make that effort.
Mason Mallory

Reading: Mina Roces. "Women, Citizenship and the politics of Dress in Twentieth-Century Philippines."
Outside source:

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