By JOSE D. PATAO, JR.
Photos by Rhoy Cobilla
MINDANAO designer Ivan Raborar, 36, has put up his own couture shop in Daang Hari, Alabang, Muntinlupa in addition to his original shop in his native Koronadal City in South Cotabato, hoping to vigorously promote T’nalak couture that has become a unique feature in Philippine fashion designs not only here but also abroad.
Born to a family of tailors and dressmakers, Ivan is a graduate of Hotel and Restaurant Management but his passion for fashion is deeply embedded in him since he’s been dressing up Barbie dolls when he was in kindergarten.
Inspired by his uncle Jared Servaño (also from Koronadal) who is known for his fearless take on fashion that brings out the punch and sophistication that he is known for especially in Project Runway Philippines, Ivan began dressing up women of note as well as beauty queens in South Cotabato.
He has dressed up Sen. Loren Legarda who always incorporates local fabrics in her attires, Miss Earth 2008 Karla Henry, Miss Earth Water 2006 Cathy Untalan, Miss Earth Water 2011 and GMA news anchor Athena Imperial, TV celebrity Patricia Tumulak and the muses of Kadayawan and Aliwan festivals, to name a few.
Ivan has also won numerous awards for his creations.
Ivan generously incorporates T’nalak patterns, both authentic weaves and printed fabrics in his masterful creations that are the perfect fashion statements be they casual, cocktail or formal wear.
Ivan fervently dreams of T’nalak material to make it big in the international fashion market, especially since the unique designs are rooted in the uniquely dyed fine abaca fibers that are woven by the Tboli women of Lake Sebu, sometimes inspired by their dreams, hence they are referred to as “dreamweavers.”
This cultural heritage of the Tbolis was preserved and handed down to the third-generation women of Lake Sebu by the late Lang Dulay, the renowned “dreamweaver” who was declared National Living Treasure (Manlilikha ng Bayan).
Ivan briefly worked for Salma Khan Fashion House in Dubai in 2014 but came back when his mom got ill of diabetes. He subsequently renewed his immediate goals of promoting Mindanao couture, particularly T’nalak.
When Crisanta Cablitas-Florida, a friend of Ivan’s sister, got enchanted with his creations, she immediately organized a fashion shoot that would showcase his exquisite creations.
The result was an amazing pictorial with the World of Art Photography Club at the Fishing Village of Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center that simulated the ambiance of panoramic Lake Sebu, the home of T’nalak “dreamweavers.”