All Guts All Glory




There’s a catch-phrase you might have heard which goes, “No guts, no glory, all guts, all glory” and just as Renaldo Lapuz of American Idol Season 7 fame proved, it often pays dividends. In his case, he was a show all to himself and public audiences around the world just loved it.


Wearing a handsome wide-brimmed, winged, marabou feather-covered white hat with the word “SIMON” prin ted on it and a metallic silver cape, his audition piece “We’re Brothers Forever” was an instant favourite on video sites, with more than 68.2-million hits in the video sharing website YouTube alone, the first of which being so popular that it even generated a cease and desist letter from News Corporation, an American multinational media conglomerate controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Even then, everyone on the Inter net seemed to ignore it because subsequent releases received 59,640,100 more hits (as of May 20, 2008) and that put the Filipinos back on the world map again with a flourish!


With nearly 128-million hits on the Internet in that one year alone, Lapuz has become the most famous Filipino on the World Wide Web – a record he still holds today, joining the 100-Million Views Club whose members also include English singer Susan Boyle and Canada’s teenage heartthrob entertainer Justin Beiber. Now try and beat that!


Admittedly, Renaldo’s audition was ‘bonged’ out by the panel of judges for its musical quality but that didn’t stop them from inviting him anyway to perform his act live in front of millions of viewers as a guest singer instead on merits that included his originality, vivacious personality and flamboyant fashion sense – rare qualities that the judges sensed rightly would bring up American Idol’s ratings if just for its comedic value to entertain. Now, that’s showbiz as they say because it did and the rest is history. All guts, all glory.




So what kind of lesson can we derive from this? Here’s the thing. There is an anecdote about another of our own not too many people know about. Carlos Peña Rómulo (14 January 1899-15 December 1985) was a Filipino diplomat, pol itician, soldier, journalist, author, Pulitzer Prize winner and a strong advocate of human rights, freedom and decolonization. He also held the distinction of being the first Asian to serve as the President of the Fourth Session of United Nations General Assembly from 1949–1950, and chairman of the United Nations Security Council.


When the UN official seal – which depicts the world, was being selected, Rómulo looked it over and demanded, “where is the Philippines?”


“It’s too small to include,” explained US Senator Warren Austin, who headed the committee. “If we put in the Philippines it would be no more than a dot.” “I want that dot!” he insisted. Today, if you look at the UN seal, you will find a tiny dot between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. It is that ‘dot’ which marks Romulo’s gutsy view of the world as Filipinos.


In 1948 in Paris, France, at the 3rd UN General Assembly, he strongly disagreed with a proposal made by the Soviet delegation headed by Andrei Vishinsky, who challenged his credentials by insulting him with this quote: “You are just a little man from a little country.” In return, Romulo replied, “It is the duty of the little Davids of this world to fling the pebbles of truth in the eyes of the blustering Goliaths and force them to behave!”, leaving Vishinsky with nothing left to do but sit down in the midst of other distinguished members of the Assembly.


Then, there’s another story that sees himself meeting with a famous American military icon and his retinue of tall American generals who disparaged his dim inutive physical stature. “Gentlemen,” he declared, “When you say something like that, you make me feel like a dime among nickels.” From that point onwards, the generals never made fun of him again.




Here down under, a gutsy Filipino designer who hails from Valenzuela City in the Philippines is one among this year’s participants to the International Designer’s Day hosted by Wellington City. The celebration includes the Brancott Estate World of WearableArt™ (WOW®) Awards Show which was held on 26th of August 2011 at TSB Bank Arena.


We mention this story because it is related to an earlier article in this website ‘Creativity by Design’ that was posted in June of this year about Filipino fashion designers. Little did we know then that one of them was about to make his pre sence felt in New Zealand.


Michael Joseph Bawar, who qualified as a finalist, arrived in New Zealand just 2-days before the show. He was chosen by the Wellington City Council for his gar ment design entry “Silver Belle” under the WOW® Tourism Avant Garde Section. 


Where art and fashion collide. designers who submit entries under this section are encouraged to create a wearable work of art that is revolutionary, extra vagant, and extrovert but still stylish and made with skill driven by dreams and fantasies, not commercial reality or the usual restrictions of fashion.


The show includes six other dynamic and equally different sections that include the Children’s section; the CentrePort Illumination Illusion® Section; The Gen-i Creative Excellence Section ‘Under the Microscope’; The American Express Open Section; The World of WearableArt™ & Classic Cars Museum’s Man Unleashed Section; and, the Air New Zealand Kiwi Icons Section.


“I’ve been working on this piece for quite some time. The inspiration for the piece came from a variety of sources ranging from medieval armory, super he roes to the artist Christo”, Bawar said. His entry was chosen from the 72 international garment designs entered to participate from countries all over the world.


Out of 273 initial entries, 160 garments were selected for the seven mentioned themes and, after a year of planning and 6-weeks of intensive rehearsals involv ing 400 performers and crew, the 2011 Brancott Estate World of WearableArt™ Awards Show was finally launched last month.


The fashion extravaganza is one of the most celebrated events in the arts scene of New Zealand and this year’s 2-hour show delivered even more eye-popping action. WOW® 2011 included a good mix of experienced designers from New Zealand and around the world and first-time entrants like Bawar. The Supreme WOW® Award was won by a London-based designer and saddler Mary Wing To.


Watch The Video



You can also view the list of  WOW® 2011 Winners here.




Now on its 23rd year and running, this year’s presentation was nothing less than 2-hours of wall-to-wall colour, energy and creativity. Show-goers were just blown away during the opening night by fantasy and surrealism. Stunningly choreographed performances included the full company of dancers from the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB), professional dancers from Wellington’s Foot note Dance and the entire first year class of the New Zealand School of Dance. It even included a surprise appearance of Christchurch’s Mayor Bob Parker.


The minute people walked into this year’s show, they were confronted by the fantasy and surrealism that was the trademark of the world-renowned Italian film director Federico Fellini.


Watch The Video



With more and more international designers entering each year, combined with an overseas media contingent of more than 100 during the show’s first weekend, the WOW® Awards Show is continuing to grow in global recognition as the world spectacular in wearable arts.


And it’s caught on. The Filipino-Kiwi Community in Wellington and elsewhere around the country are delighted to have a representative of its own like Bawar participate in this year’s competition and awards show which, even if first-timer Bawar didn’t win an award, they hope will encourage more Filipino fashion de signers here and abroad to get their fabrics, scissors and sewing needles ready to join up in next year’s 2012 WOW® Show.




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Filed under Arts and Culture, Featured Profiles, Filipinos in Wellington

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