Befitting a Queen

It’s not a secret that Filipinos love beauty pageants. We can get fiercely competitive when it comes to these contests, actually, especially the international ones. We love to keep track of the most trivial things about our contestants; from their outfits, to their movements and nuances to the statements they give on the question-and-answer portion of the pageant. Remember this little number Miss Intercontinental 2017/Miss World Philippines 2018 Katarina Rodriguez wore on a pre-Miss World interview?

Courtesy of Instagram
Katarina Rodriguez wearing a Patricia Gavan (2018)

Guess what? The dressmaker who stitched it together is from Tacloban.

And I’ve had the privilege of interviewing her.

59 year old ERLINDA CARPINA or MANA LINDA met me at the small white church of Fishermen’s Village in San Jose, Tacloban City with a wide smile. After a little walk, we arrived at her home where we are greeted with this beautiful wedding gown.

She explained that her client wanted to revise it a little and she excitedly told me about the adjustment. It was obvious how proud she was of her creation and didn’t mind accommodating her customer’s wishes. “Character and communication are the keys to getting good results.” she told me.

Mana Linda working through the night.
She can finish a complicated gown within 2-3 days.

During the late 70s, an 18-year old Linda was apprenticed by the owner of one of the biggest garment companies in Manila. With no formal training whatsoever, everything she had known was from the hands-on lessons of her former boss. After sometime, she married and moved to Tacloban where her husband, Mano Eddie (who also sews) enrolled her in a one-year course in a local college to add to her skills as a seamstress. In between 1990 to 2007, she started accepting sewing job orders, usually school uniforms and gowns. Again, her husband encouraged her to take a six-month program to further enhance the skills she had. In 2007, she was hired by a dress shop where she worked until 2016 when she had to leave for Thailand to spend time with her grandchild. It was in this shop where she established loyal customers who continually looked for her even after she left. In 2015, an aspiring designer came up to her and asked her to teach her the basics of sewing. After six months, this young aspirant began her formal education on design in Manila. Years later, she came back to Tacloban and cut a deal with Mana Linda; she’ll do the designs and Mana Linda will do the sewing.

And that’s how Mana Linda came to dress a Queen.

Looking back, all she could say was God had never left her alone.

“Somehow, He has always provided for me.” she said, recalling the time when she’d just gotten back from Thailand and had no other means of income. One of Mano Eddie’s nieces approached her and asked her to sew her gown for prom.

“My hands needed a little practice but I somehow managed to get it done.” she relayed. “My former customers would somehow get my number and call me up to sew for them. It’s such an honor especially at my age.” she laughs, noting that she now jots everything down lest she forgets.

Seeing the details on her works make me doubt her claim of forgetfulness, though.

If you’re looking for sewing befitting a Queen or just want your favorite blouse repaired, you can message her through her Facebook Account or through this number 0945-180-6478

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