Young Dabawenyo Designer Wilson Niñofranco Limon Promotes Philippine Culture Through Fashion

  • September 20, 2018

When Marco Polo Davao marked the opening of the Kadayawan season, the spotlight was trained on a young Dabawenyo designer, who had wanted to be a doctor. Wilson Niñofranco Limon is all of 25 years old, the CEO helming NiñOFRANCO, a homegrown clothing brand in the southern city.

“We partnered with NiñOFRANCO because we support his advocacy of promoting Mindanaon culture, as well as the livelihood programs they give to these Mindanaon tribes,” says MPD General Manager Cottie Wurgler Cronin. The first premier hotel in Davao City also champions locally made products of the Food Processors Association of Davao City. “Supporting local products means supporting local enterprises,” Cronin continues. “This is an opportunity for Davao-made products to be highlighted and noticed by potential buyers.”

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25 year old Dabawenyo designer Wilson Niñofranco Limon
25 year old Dabawenyo designer Wilson Niñofranco Limon
Philippine Eagle stuffed toys dressed in limited edition NiñOFRANCO Tangkulo-inspired outfits
Philippine Eagle stuffed toys dressed in limited edition NiñOFRANCO Tangkulo-inspired outfits

Praiseworthy Moon

The Kadayawan Festival happens yearly, every third week of August. It is a celebration of gratitude for nature’s bounty and the gift of life. Originally, it was a thanksgiving ritual to the gods performed on the night when the moon was full. The tribesmen and country folk believed that the moon was responsible for the good harvests. They called the moon dayaw, meaning praiseworthy.

Marco Polo Davao has always chosen to highlight the indigenous culture of Davao and Mindanao, and celebrate the festival by highlighting the local arts and the culinary heritage. Wilson was a natural choice being that his collection of contemporary ethnocentric, one of a kind pieces were made in collaboration with the Mindanaon tribes of Bagobo, Blaan, Tagakaolo and Tboli.

The fashion design graduate, whose thesis focused on the reinvention of the traditional Bagobo Tagabawa into a casual wear, drew from the richness of the weaving traditions in Mindanao.
The fashion design graduate, whose thesis focused on the reinvention of the traditional Bagobo Tagabawa into a casual wear, drew from the richness of the weaving traditions in Mindanao.
Wilson Niñofranco Limon orginally wanted to be a doctor, but followed his heart into design
Wilson Niñofranco Limon orginally wanted to be a doctor, but followed his heart into design

Tribal Wear Turns Casual

Wilson’s integration of Tboli handwork had reaped him the top spot in a Mindanao fashion competition I AM STELLAR. The fashion design graduate, whose thesis focused on the reinvention of the traditional Bagobo Tagabawa into a casual wear, drew from the richness of the weaving traditions in Mindanao.

Inspired and committed to the sustainability of the ethnic traditions, he has charted a path that led him to show his works in Mindanao Tapestry, Manila FAME’s Mindanao One Exhibit as well as on one of the Miss Universe 2016 candidates during the Mindanao Tapestry Show. Wilson’s brand is also aligned with supporting the craft of local artisans, helping their livelihood while preserving their culture.

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A piece by Wilson Niñofranco Limon
A piece by Wilson Niñofranco Limon
The Philippine Eagled walked the runway wearing NiñOFRANCO creations
The Philippine Eagle walked the runway wearing NiñOFRANCO creations
Pepe, Marco Polo Davao's eagle mascot
Pepe, Marco Polo Davao’s eagle mascot

Eagle on the Runway

Besides the food and fashion platforms, Marco Polo Davao also supports the Philippine Eagle. The national bird is among the rare avian species in the world that is endemic to the Philippines. Considered one of three most powerful birds, it is critically endangered, owing to deforestation, as well as shooting and hunting.

Marco Polo Davao donated all the proceeds of an auction it organized to the Philippine Eagle Foundation. Last year, together with Wharf Hotel and Niccolo Hotels, MPD also turned over P1.2 million to the Philippine Eagle Foundation, increasing the previous donation of P1 million raised in 2016.

The hotel’s philanthropic efforts for this year came together succinctly when Philippine eagle stuffed toys, dressed in limited edition NiñOFRANCO Tangkulo-inspired crafts, worked the ramp. It was all for a good cause.

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