Modern Classic: Honoring the 'Balintawak' Dress in TernoCon 2023 - Arts & Culture

This year’s TernoCon had 12 designers present fresh takes on the timeless Filipino dress.

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s March 2023 Issue.

Twelve finalists were invited to debut their designs at the third edition of TernoCon, held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez Black Box Theatre. This year’s contestants honor the balintawak dress through a modern lens.


READ ALSO: Farm to Runway: Fashion At Its Finest Featuring Filipino Cotton

Among the finalists is this year’s winner, Yssa Inumerable, who received the Pacita Longos award for her designs. Runner-up Gabbie Sarenas took home the Pura Escurdia award and Glady Rose Pantua received the Ramon Valera award for third place.

According to the competition’s website, the Balintawak’s key components include a camisa (blouse) with butterfly sleeves, a saya (skirt), an alampay (kerchief), and a tapis (a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist). The dress was worn by Filipino women in the 1920s and 1930s to town fiestas, picnics, and pilgrimages to Antipolo.

Joey Samson and his collection at TernoCon
Joey Samson and his collection

“I chose the Balintawak in particular because I thought that since we’re emerging from the Pandemic, it’s the most appropriate attire,” says TernoCon artistic director Gino Gonzales. “It’s a less formal version of the terno and it also connects people to the countryside, which is what people are pining for these days. In a way, it’s also less ostentatious… It’s the right time for it.”

Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo and their collection at TernoCon
Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo and their collection

Each contestant was mentored by one of the competition’s veteran designers, including Inno Sotto,
Denis Lustico, Chito Vijandre, Ricky Toledo, and Joey Samson. Glady Rose Pantua, the bronze awardee, featured
local textiles from her city in her collection, as seen in the pants’ weaving and the delicate beading on the sheer fabric.

Runner-up Gabbie Sarenas leaned more towards the colors of a traditional Filipiniana, but with a more relaxed look, with a mix of modern patterns and floral drapings.

Yssa Inumerable's Gibson Filipina look
Yssa Inumerable’s Gibson Filipina look

This year’s winner Yssa Inumerable mixed local and Western styles in her collection. Using the traditional patterns and structure of the Balintawak, Inumerable incorporated elements of the classic 1800s Gibson Girl look.

Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia March 2023 magazine via or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.

Photos by Jeremiah Villardo.

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