Painting Patriotism: Edgar San Diego Mixes Fashion, Art, and Love of Country for his First Solo Show - Lifestyle Asia

The former FDAP president started working on these pieces at the start of the pandemic last year. 

With the theme “Tribute of Joy to the Filipina and her Traditional Dress amidst the Pandemic,” Edgar San Diego recently showcased his art, perspective, and style in his first solo art exhibit. 

READ ALSO: Saved By Art: In The Midst Of Lockdown Despair, Rosenthal Tee Turned To Painting For Creative Expression And Mental Health


In “Baro’t Saa Tuwa at Ligaya,” which ran at the Mega Fashion Fall, the designer-artist highlighted Filipino beauty, traditions, costumes and production design in colorful creations that promote an optimistic and encouraging vibe that we all need the most today.

Starting out in fashion, San Diego crossed over to visual arts during the start of last year’s lockdown. When he ran out of things to fix at home, he decided to pick up his brushes again and called his canvas supplier. 

From left: SM senior vice president for marketing communications Millie Dizon, Edgar San Diego, and Abby San Diego

With the help of his daughter Abby, who served as his model, San Diego made his first piece titled “Portrait of an Old Soul 1.” From then, he would create one to two paintings a week, which are all displayed in his show.

For love of country

San Diego says that his works are his personal statements on nationalism.  

“My paintings are unchanging in their presentation of Filipiniana themes, evident in the costumes, the furniture, the settings, and the scenarios that find their way into my canvas,” he says. “These are expressions of my love for the country and its history.”

From left: “Sumpaan,” “Dalaga sa Hagdanan”

Hopefully, “through my visual creations, I could encourage and inspire others, especially the younger generations of Filipinos, to develop an interest in our country’s fascinating history and our rich cultural heritage,” he adds.

The exhibit also highlighted San Diego’s exquisite hand painted Filipiniana gowns including a Maria Clara top over a green de cola skirt; a blush pink Maria Clara gown with black accent on the baro, pañuelo, and tapis; and a modern Maria Clara wedding ensemble, among others.

San Diego graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Fine Arts major in Advertising. He went on to work as a hand painter on formal wear for a number of Filipino designers. 

“Baro, Panuelo, Saya, at Tapis”

This gave him early exposure in the fashion industry, particularly in fashion design. He also worked as a window display artist which further opened his knowledge of fashion marketing.

Awarded designer

Working passionately to improve his craft, San Diego was invited and became the youngest pioneer of the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines where he eventually served as president for eight years.

His citations and awards include Haute Couture Designer of the Year in the Manila Fashion Designers Awards in 1989; Grand Prix Best Costume Award in Carnival in Rio in Manila, which brought him to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1990.

As a costume designer, his credits include Repertory Philippines’ The Wizard of Oz, The Man of La Mancha, M Butterfly, and The Sound of Music; Trumpets’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; and New Port theater’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

The designer also successfully promoted fashion and culture through fashion shows with Filipino communities in New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Atlanta, Missouri, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, and London. He was also the Philippine representative to the 1989 ASEAN Fashion Connections in Singapore.

A percentage of the sales from Baro’t Saya Tuwa at Ligaya will be donated to Special Services of Jose Reyes Medical Center.

Banner: “Portrait of an Old Soul 1,” by Edgar San Diego

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