• The fashion of Marga Nograles



    PLUS: A dazzling Heart and a stunning Korina
    Marga Nograles’ clothes aren’t from the world’s runways like other politicians’ wives, but they should definitely be there. Colorful, intricate and full of heritage, she designs them herself with the help of artisans among Mindanao’s indigenous tribes and calls them “Kaayo.”

    “Kaayo actually means goodness in Bisaya,” chatted the lovely wife of Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles when The T-Zone met her for dinner one Monday night. The invitation by the way was for the members of the Society of Philippine Entertainment Editors (SPEEd), to which The T-Zone belongs, to listen in on her husband’s observations, suggestions and plans for the movie industry after chairing 2017’s highly successful Metro Manila Film Festival.

    Interesting as they were, however, The T-Zone was drawn to Marga’s beautifully embroidered denim blouse, which she wore with rugged sophistication. Its sleeves rolled up, collar raised, it was the delicate pattern of white and red on the shirt’s right panel that gave the look that fashionable oomph.

    Marga Nograles thrives as designer of Kaayo, the fashion of modern Mindanao, as executed by tribal artisans PHOTO COURTESY OF KAAYO.COM

    Feeling like college girls shutting off from discussions on tax incentives to boost the movie industry, Marga chuckled and finally whispered, “This is actually Karlo’s shirt! I just picked it up one day and sent it to my sewers with this design in mind.”

    “Really?” The T-Zone prodded her to say more, and in succeeding, had the talented lady open up about her fashion journey.

    “I’ve always loved to play around with clothes and my grandmother would tell me, ‘Why don’t you make your own?’ I was never confident to do it but somehow, even without a background in fashion, I ended up doing something related to it after college,” Marga began.

    “I worked with the [Bench] group that set up Paul Smith in the Philippines, and I eventually became the distributor of Havaianas in Southern Mindanao, which I do up to now, but secretly, I’ve always wanted to have my own fashion brand,” she added.

    But as she and Karlo started a family—they have three children aged 10, seven and four—with the added duty of being a Congressional spouse, Marga’s stylish dreams were put on hold.

    That is, until she organized a livelihood project in Davao’s first district that helped local craftsmen maximize their potential in weaving, jewelry-making and other handicrafts to supplement their income. The experience was not just fulfilling for the congressman’s wife, but it also paved the way for her wish to come true.

    “I met more and more of the artisans in such tribes as the Bagobo-Tagabawa and the Tboli women, and I realized that I can actually do something for them while finally coming up with my own label. So that’s how Kaayo came to be,” Marga beamed.

    Just over a year old, the happy late-bloomer of a designer is amazed at how Kaayo has gained an emergent following by word of mouth and of course, social media. Basically an online store [www.kaayo.com], Marga has also joined several all-Filipino fairs and pop-up markets like ArteFino and Katutubo over the last year where her tribal fashion with a modern flair always pleased the crowds.

    “I grew up around Mindanaoan fashion,” the proud Davaoena related. “My mom has always been involved in promoting arts and culture in the south, and growing up around their colorful patterns, weaves, fabrics and accessories, I always had my way of wearing them. I guess I just didn’t have the confidence to get into something that was always in front of me.”

    Long-overdue as Marga’s venture may be, it no longer matters in the larger scheme of things. For as Kaayo’s signature pieces of intricately beaded Tangkulo scarves, richly woven Tboli jackets and artfully embroidered denims make their way into fashionistas’ closets in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and beyond, so much goodness has come from the wait. Tribes thriving in their art and livelihood and a young wife, mother and—yes—a bona fide designer fulfilled.

    A dazzling Heart
    The month that was has always been special for actress, visual artist and fashionista Heart Evangelista-Escudero. Besides Valentine’s being her birthday—she turned 33 on February 14—the day she was named after as “Love Marie” also marks her wedding anniversary.

    Heart Evangelista dazzles Cebuanos at her launch as brand ambassador for Royal Gem, the jewelry arm of the Metro Gaisano Group

    Married to Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero for three years now, Heart excitedly told The T-Zone they are ready to add to her hubby’s twins with a baby of their own.

    Until then, though, the free and beautiful spirit that Heart is is keeping as busy as ever what with her constant travels to attend fashion weeks in Europe, her commitments on GMA Network, her painting and of course, yet another endorsement she bagged in February.

    Before the month ended, she was launched as brand ambassador of Royal Gems—formerly known as Metro Jewelry under the Metro Gaisano Group of Retail Stores—all the way in the Queen City of the South.

    Ever a classic beauty, Heart happily tried on diamond, South Sea pearl and gem encrusted jewelry pieces for the jewelry house’s loyal patrons at her launch-cum-private sale at Waterfont Cebu City.

    “I really love their pieces and I’m very flattered they named this special Valentine collection ‘Let Love Bloom’,” she enthused. As most everyone knows, Heart uses her real name Love Marie Ongpauco on her paintings on canvas and luxury bags, mostly commissioned by Hermes owners.

    Known too to enjoy accessorizing, Heart happily told The T-Zone her latest endorsement is a dream because she can’t get enough of mixing and matching jewelries to make her outfits more interesting.

    “Besides these pieces from the Let Love Bloom collection, there’s also a new accessory I’m crazy about—using scarves as belts! Maybe it’ll catch on,” she ended with a smile.

    Still stunned by Korina
    Over a month since her jaw-dropping billboard on Edsa was unveiled, Korina Sanchez is still relishing how she stunned the nation with her Belo transformation.

    “Even my friends did double takes to check if I was really the slim and tanned lady in the picture,” she giggled at a recent luncheon.

    Over a month since her billboard came out on Edsa, Korina Sanchez continues to stun all who see her and her amazing transformation

    Everywhere she goes up to now, the seasoned journalist who has made a career out of asking questions, keeps on having to answer one single query from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike: “How did you do it?”

    So once and for all—at least for The Manila Times readers who also want in on the secret behind Korina’s transformation—here’s the lowdown straight from the stunning 53-year-old female’s famous mouth:

    “I started by going on a strict diet, exercising and leading a more balanced and healthy lifestyle,” she began. “And then I went to the Belo Medical Group for several procedures.”

    Enumerating them, the broadcaster continued, “The first is Belo Triptique, which is a unique combination of treatments to achieve a tighter, more contoured skin. Then I did BeloThermage, a non-invasive procedure that also delivers tighter skin, renewed facial contours and healthier collagen. The procedure is ideal for women 35 years old and up or anyone who wants to look refreshed and reverse the signs of aging with no downtime.

    “I also did EPT or embedded protein threads to lift and contour skin; and finally, the newest treatment they have called Belo Vita, which is a unique delivery system that uses hyaluronic acid, glutathione and PDRN (polydeoxiribonucleotide) for a hydrated, more youthful looking skin.”

    Got all that down? Now that’s how you stun ‘em all like Korina.


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