Sunday, September 6, 2009

Divisoria Wedding Gown

Hi nephew. I just spoke with your Mom through Facebook chat and she said that you two are going somewhere. It’s funny that I never got to ask her where. Maybe she will go meet your Dad for lunch. By the way, your Dad is at work now and I’m sure that he misses you a lot. Well I miss you too. I am just here at home today but tomorrow I will go to Divisoria and meet the dress designer of your Mom’s wedding gown.

*Divisoria or “Divi” is a famous place located in the heart of Manila City and is the Mecca for selling and buying unbelievably low-cost goods. If you are in the mood for bargaining and haggling of prices, and you would like to score wholesale items, spend a couple of hours if not your whole Saturday in Divi. You can find almost anything like clothes, shoes, accessories, toys, novelties, decorations, pirated films and music, electronics (like DVD players, playstations, cellphones), fruits, meat, seafood, vegetables, dry goods, school, office and household supplies, furniture, fabrics and textiles, crafts, magazines and books, and almost anything under the sun as long as you have the stamina to stand, walk and repeatedly bargain to a lot of vendors for a long period of time. One tip I can share with you on bargaining is to cut the price into half right away. If the vendor says the item costs 100 pesos, ask if he or she could give it to you at 50! You’ll be surprised! I still have two more tips. First, bring a companion if it is your first time to go here as Divisoria is quite a big place. There’s a possibility of getting lost and not finding the stores or the items that you are looking for. The last is that you have to watch out for your purse or pocket, avoid wearing jewelry and bringing your expensive cellphones because it can also be very chaotic here.

I will personally thank the designer of your Mom’s wedding gown for accepting the job and for putting it together in two short days. Two very short days?! Yes! It all happened when I just got back from Dipolog (work-related trip) and went straight to Divisoria to look for a ready-made gown that looks like a Hollywood dress worn by Jessica Alba. I have saved the picture in my mobile phone so I don’t have to worry about not remembering the small details of the dress. I also have your mom’s measurements (you included in it). I have asked the help of a friend, Adrian, to come with me. Adrian, well you should call him Tito Adrian or Tito Yayan, is a very good friend of your mom’s and mine. They were colleagues at work in a US directory assistance company way back. Now, he is one of my hiking/backpacking/movie/swimming buddies.

We went straight to Tutuban Mall as there are other shopping centers like 168 and Divisoria Mall. We were seriously looking and pointing at several gowns when I came up with a beautiful white wedding gown full of sequins in a stall. I did not ask the price. Instead, I gave the seller my budget and asked if she could give it to me at that price. She kindly turned down my offer and said that the price of the gown was 18,000 pesos and that she cannot give it to me at 2,500 pesos. Hihihi. Sorry…. Got blown away by opportunity to bargain here…. Anyways, I waited for the owner who turned out to be the designer. Her name is Ellen Clavio Viray. She is a sister of the famous GMA7 (local Philippine channel of course) Arnold Clavio. I don’t know if she is also related to Arn-Arn who is a puppet and also a tv personality that looks very much like Arnold. When you’re old enough to watch television, try to catch a morning show called Unang Hirit to see for yourself. Or I can save an episode for you.

I told Ellen the story behind your Mom’s wedding schedule and me being assigned to buy her a dress in a very short time. Your Mom’s wedding fell on a Saturday. I went to Divisoria exactly a week before the wedding but I needed to leave for Singapore on Tuesday at 3am! This meant, Ellen had to make the gown on Sunday and Monday. We agreed on Jessica Alba’s design and on a fair price. I gave her my home address because she offered to bring the dress to my place so I don’t have to go back to her store at night. WHAT A GREAT OFFER! (Copied from Laren along with his accent and facial expressions.)

Sunday went fast because I was so tired from the Dipolog trip and Monday went even faster because I was at work in the morning, picked up your Dad’s barong during lunch and went straight to the wet market after work to buy pork for Daphne, (please call her Tita Daphne) another friend of your Mom and mine, who celebrated her birthday at my place that night. Ellen personally delivered the gown at around 10:00pm. We took some pictures with her because we personally felt she was a celebrity.

Ellen Clavio Viray’s number is +639179760358. Her stall is G-zyne Boutique and is located at Q-12 Cluster Bldg. II Tutuban Center Mall in Divisoria. Her email address is She also makes evening gowns and she has a package for wedding dresses.

I took with me your Mom’s wedding gown together with your Dad’s barong made of pinya or pineapple fabric, which I also had it done in Divisoria, to Singapore. I also had with me a whole luggage of your clothes and toys and other baby stuff for you to use. Some were gifts from friends, others came from me and the rest were bought by your Mom in Divisoria when she was in the Philippines.

*A barong or Barong Tagalog was derived from the word baro is the Philippines’ national costume for men. It is a formal garment, very lightweight and should be worn untucked over a plain white or cream undershirt normally called kamisa chino or gusot-mayaman shirt. Several fabrics can be used to make a barong. Pinya fabric is hand-woven from pineapple leaf fibers. The fabric’s scarcity makes the cloth very expensive, hence, worn for very formal occasions. This is because the pinya weavers in the Philippines are slowly decreasing in number. The Jusi fabric is mechanically woven made from abacca. But China is currently the main source of a polyester Jusi. Saging or banana fabric is also hand-woven from banana fiber.

Your Mom and Dad looked gorgeous on their wedding day. With the gown, the barong, and the Philippine’s national flower Sampaguita, that your Mom wore throughout her hair, and the love they have for each other and for you, they were ready to get married. I can’t wait to tell you about how I cried on the whole event. I felt very embarrassed! But that’s a different story.

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