Do a quick search of Pinay Collection on Google right now and you’ll be in for a surprise.
Or maybe you won’t be.
Maybe you’re used to this. Maybe you’re used to being seen in this way. I know I am.
Do a quick search of Pinay Collection on Google right now and what would you find?
Countless of porn sites, that’s what.
But I’m used to being sexualized and fetishized and objectified a million times over as a Filipina and Asian woman. I’m used to being portrayed in a very specific and narrow way by the media around me. Those Google search results don’t phase me, they don’t even surprise me.
What surprises me though is that this website we are on, this blog, this very brand even exists. What surprises me is that this kind of Pinay Collection exists.
In the face of colonial forces that seek to keep Filipina women down, this Pinay Collection is a powerful and necessary act of defiance. For so long the narratives of Filipina/xs have been shaped by people other than us. Our colonizers and other oppressive forces have rendered us quiet, submissive, subservient, and inferior. All the things that I – and many of the Filipina/xs in my life – are not.
This is why it’s so important for us to reclaim the word “Pinay” and why it’s so important for us to #WearPinay. To take back this word and make it ours again; to define it on our own terms.
But Pinay Collection goes even deeper than this. This brand – dare I say movement? – isn’t just about our colonizers or external forces that have kept us down. It’s also a statement against those within the Filipino community, our own families, our own intimate relations who are guilty too of keeping us down, who use our very own mother tongue against us.
In Pinay Collection’s line you’ll find words like maldita, maarte, lakwatsera, ambisyosa front and centre of the fashion. Extra, bratty, a woman who goes out “too much”, a woman who is “too ambitious”. They are all Tagalog words that have been used against Filipina/x to shame us, silence us, make us feel small.
And how many of us have heard our very own families throw these words at us like acid, like hot fire?
But these words are beautiful too. They are words of power. Words that describe women who are loud and proud. Women who are unafraid to speak up about what they want and how they feel, who are unapologetic about who they are.
Yes, I am maldita. I am “bratty”, which is to say I am unapologetic about speaking my mind and standing up for what I believe in.
I am maarte. I am “extra”, which is to say I am unabashed about demanding what I need and want, and I won’t play small to make anyone feel comfortable.
I am a lakwatsera. I enjoy going out, spending time with my family and friends, and connecting with new people who enrich my life.
I am ambisyosa. I am passionate, driven, and ambitious. I have dreams and aspirations that I am unafraid to strive for.
Pinay Collection is not your average Filipina/x retail store - we cultivate the power of Tagalog words. The words you see in our pieces have been used to diminish and shame Filipina/xs; and we think this makes our designs unique, beautiful, and rich with Pinay magic.
I am all of these things and more.
I am mataray. I am “ill-tempered” and “bitchy”, which is to say I am sassy and I am fierce.
I am suplada. I am “arrogant” and “conceited”, which is to say I am confident and I know my worth.
I am a bruha, “a witch”. The kind of woman that people across generations have been afraid of because of the magic she wields. Which is to say that yes, there is immense magic inside of me.
In the face of patriarchal forces that seek to keep Filipina women down, this Pinay Collection is a powerful and necessary act of defiance. For so long the narratives of Filipina/xs have been shaped by people other than us. Our very own people have tried to shame us into feeling smaller than what we are; they have tried to diminish our worth, dull our shine.
But no more. Pinay Collection was built by and for Filipin/xs to take back their identity and celebrate what that means on our own terms. Pinay Collection was built to reclaim our space and do so loudly.
You will find some of these words proudly emblazoned on Pinay Collection’s shirts and sweaters, on our chosen skin. You’ll find these words on each piece personally designed and lovingly hand made with meaning and purpose because each one, like each of us, has its own story.
For all of these reasons, I’m proud to #WearPinay.
About the Author:
Justine Abigail is a fierce advocate for diversity and representation in Canada’s arts and literature scene. Her mission is to stir the conscience and spur social change.
@justineabigail / @livinghyphen