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Pq Tuesdays

A look into Puey Quiñones' true vocation.
Pq Tuesdays A look into Puey Quiñones' true vocation.

Every Tuesday since October 2007, designer Puey Quiñones makes a regular trip to the Maximum Security ward of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. He's not exactly going there to visit a wayward family member or a friend who's fallen from grace, though at this point, he's reached out to enough of the inmates to make it seem that way. Puey goes to Bilibid, sometimes even twice a week, to teach fashion.

The Program

It began as a livelihood project of the Lamb of God Foundation, which was set-up by the now released Mayor Romeo Jalosjos when he was still there. It's a non-profit organization that aims to provide assistance to the most needy of inmates.

Mike Alvir, an inmate himself, is the Head of Special Projects for the group. “This project with Puey is part of the bigger plan to invite talented people from the outside to come in and teach workshops,” he explains.

Photographer Andy Maluche, Puey's uncle, used to come and conduct Artistic Workshops, giving the inmates the chance to learn the ins and outs of photography. It was he who invited the designer to get with the program.


Straight Men Can Sew


So what does a member of the new guard of Philippine fashion teach a bunch of straight men? “I'm teaching them everything I know about fashion, starting from putting together a mood board onwards,” says Puey with a proud smile.

The goal is to eventually train them towards the creation of clothes. Inmates are grouped and given regular projects. At the last Prison Week in 2007, which hosted a variety show, the designer staged a special fashion show with professional models showcasing t-shirts his students made from fabric swatches. This year's fashion show took on a grander scale with their entries competing, Project Runway style.

Click here to read the Style Report on the fashion show held in honor of National Correctional Consciousness Week.

So on Tuesdays, and often on Thursdays as well, Puey brings a number of fabrics—piña, jusi, jersey, matte satin—for the inmates to work with. The morning session entails classroom work: draping, sewing, pattern making, and the like. He takes home the pinned pieces of each class and has them sewn and finished by his staff in Manila.

Click here to see photos of the classroom sessions.

The final products are sold in various retail stores such as L Manila in Greenbelt 5 and Bobon in The Podium's Markati Palazzo. “According to Lulu (Tan-Gan), these pieces are the fastest-selling among all the consignors of L Manila,” says Puey.


Painting in Prison

Perhaps the biggest things to come from these sessions are the hand-painted fabrics that have become the telltale mark of a PQ creation.

“We discovered that artwork could be applied to fabric and we now do regular production,” Mike relates. “The economy within Bilibid is a cash economy, and each of the inmates earns for every piece they make.” The workshop has provided a means for them to earn a livelihood within the walls of the prison that allows them to support themselves as well as their families outside.

With the abstract work of Jackson Pollock as his inspiration, Puey taught his students the basics of painting on fabric. Now, these painters have devised their own techniques and terms—“Split,” “Somersault,” and “Wet Application”—working systematically to create each one-of-a-kind design.

Click here to see photos of the painting process.

Click here to see women wearing these hand-painted pieces.


You Too Can Help

Like many of the other livelihood programs within the prison, they need additional assistance to keep flourishing. It may seem daunting to build an atelier, replete with sewing machines, mannequins, and pattern making tools, within the Maximum Security area. However, Bilibid's fully-functional bakeshop, with its industrial ovens and mixers; supervised by a former pastry chef of The Mandarin Hotel, is proof that the projects within the walls can grow to greater heights.


For information on this program, contact Puey Quiñones at mobile number 0918-8031054, telephone numbers (632) 496-0546 and (632) 496-0551, or email pueyq@yahoo.com.


—Isha Andaya, Managing Editor

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