Daily Archives: March 25, 2008

Galing Pinoy: Pinoy Fashion Design Guru

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – FilAm fashion designer Alan Del Rosario knows all about bringing sexy back.

The Los Angeles-based designer presented his latest fashion collection line at the star-studded Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at the Smashbox Studios in Culver City last March 11. This is Del Rosario’s third trip to the exclusive fashion event.

About a hundred clothing buyers, spectators and media personnel checked out his fall collection in Lightbox, a standing-room only venue. Among those that attended include adult-entertainment star Jenna Jameson, mixedmartial-arts fighter Tito Ortiz, actress Apollonia Kotero, Fox 11 news anchor Christine Devine and musician Sean McNabb. They all waited to see the latest design from the Pinoy’s Fall 2008 collection.

Del Rosario’s latest collection, Bow and Arrow, is a mixture of fashion from decades past. He dressed his runway models his favorite look from the 50’s to the 90’s. The models sashayed down the catwalk with panache as the crowd rubbernecked leftright-up-and-down dissecting every aspect of Del Rosario’s clothing design from the fuchsia stockings and shoes (made popular in the 80’s) to loose and casual black and white simple day dresses of the 60’s.

“I wanted to merge my favorite designs of those decades and make it relevant now,” said Del Rosario, whose dresses retail $1,500 to $2,000. “Women now like to buy pieces and adapt to the style of today.”

After he presented his red carpet-worthy designs, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

For Del Rosario, the crowd’s enjoyment of his design is his satisfaction. But for all the glitz, glamour and blinding flash bulbs, the ovation signifies more than just applause for his latest fashion design collection.

It’s been a long road for Del Rosario, who went from being a civil engineer in the Philippines to one of the most popular fashion designers in the US.

He’s endured rising to the top of his profession winning the California Designer of the Year award to being a casualty in the cut-throat world of fashion and design business, and back again. Despite all the obstacles, Del Rosario persevered. What keeps him up at night is thinking of the latest fashion and design.

“I love what I do,” he said admitting he only sleeps four to five hours a night. “Nothing can stop me.”

Starting from Scratch

Del Rosario arrived from the Philippines in the late 80’s to pursue his fashion and design dreams. He studied civil engineering in the Philippines to fulfill his parents’ wishes.

Growing up in Cebu, his parents were reluctant for their son (one of seven children) to pursue a career in the arts, fashion and design world. Since the arts was in his heart, he made a deal with his parents — he’ll get a degree in civil engineering first but he can pursue whatever he wishes after graduation.

With a Civil Engineering degree as a safety net, he left the Philippines for Los Angeles. At this time, he was a 27-year-old international student looking to start over, looking for a break in the fashion world. He started by studying at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). He excelled in their accelerated program eventually working his way up to earning a scholarship and being awarded the school’s prestigious Bob Macke award.

“I really believed [that] what I was doing was right,” said Del Rosario of his sacrifice coming to this country.

After FIDM, he worked for a large company learning the ropes and business side of the fashion industry.

In 1999, he started his own line carrying his namesake. It  was a major hit. A year later, Gen Art LA awarded him a winner of the prestigious ‘Fresh Faces’ in fashion for eveningwear.

Known for his signature style and evening-gowndresses, major retail stores and specialty boutiques flocked to order Del Rosario’s clothing line. The orders became so overwhelming that it was hard for Del Rosario to keep up with the demands. He eventually lost some accounts.

Post 9-11

After the September 11 attacks, retailers stopped calling. The economy slumped and the demand for his clothing line went downhill. Del Rosario had to close his business.

“It was a hard time for me,” said Del Rosario. “I was on top then lost everything.”

Wanting to start over, he joined a clothing company (that he doesn’t want to mention) and revamped their way of business. According to Del Rosario, he turned the small clothing company from a $7 million-a-year business to a $40 million earner.

A few years ago, he received a call from an old friend about starting another line. This friend, Henry Kim, now financially backs his new collection.

Del Rosario is once again rising to the top of the fashion and design world.

His gowns have grown so popular that Hollywood stars like Michelle Pfeiffer, Minnie Driver and Debra Messing wear his private collection. His clothing collection can be found at major retailers such

as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macys Beverly Hills, Anthropology, Fred Segal and a number of other specialty boutiques in Los Angeles and New York, the US’ fashion capitals.

He said that he designs for the modern woman, simple and sophisticated. Asked what sexy means to him, he said, “Comfort. Comfort is sexy to me. You have a lot of women that wear these very nice outfits but they look stiff like they can’t move.

“What’s the use of wearing something if you can’t enjoy it?” he added.

He said he’s fortunate to be able to do what he loves. He advises young designers to follow their heart.

“Be true to yourself,” he said. “Don’t be influenced by other people or designers. If you have a vision, and some other people might not like it, 90 percent of the time you’re right. Believe in yourself.”


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Pinoy Truck Drivers Victimized by Recruiters in Manitoba

by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – After 15 years of driving trucks in Saudi Arabia for about $350 per month, a group of seven Filipino men saw an ad in a Saudi newspaper from the Montreal-based immigration consulting firm Mercan Capital Ltd.

“Immigrate to Canada,” the ad said, offering “work permits,” “high salary” and “great opportunities” for welders, truck drivers, mechanics and others, as well as “permanent residency” and “thousands of jobs” for technicians, teachers, engineers administrators and other professionals.

“All Filipinos dream to work in Canada because of a little bit higher salary,” said one of the men, who asked that his identity not be revealed out of fear.

The seven men left their jobs in Saudi and landed the jobs in Manitoba, the province with the highest rate of immigration in Canada. Upon their arrival, the men were told they had to sign a contract in which they agreed to pay $5,000 in fees directly to the recruiting company. This practice is illegal under Manitoba’s Employment Services Act.

After paying the initial fee, the seven truckers had so little money that the local Filipino community donated food to them.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Mercan Capital Ltd. then told them they’d have to pay even more. “After you pay the $5,000, you have to bring extra money to pay for the school for driving,” said one of the men. The men’s debts each reached more than $9,000.

In addition, the contract includes clauses saying if the job ends before two years are up, the men are on the hook for $5,000 more — and if they discuss the terms of the contract with anyone, they would have to pay $2,500.

With the help of the Filipino community, the seven men looked for other companies to work for and left the unscrupulous recruiters.

The story of the truck drivers was reported in the media and the president of the company was interviewed. Jerry Morgan, president of Mercan Capital Ltd., acknowledged to CBC News that some of the contracts’ terms are considered illegal under employment legislation. The company no longer uses those methods, he said. The Mercan Capital employee who was responsible for the recruiting effort that brought the seven men to Manitoba has since been fired, Morgan said.

The seven truck drivers were not the only people who signed such contracts, Morgan said, adding that he had been caught off-guard by the situation. The company could use more controls, he conceded. Morgan has agreed to refund any money that was spent by the workers, as is required by the Employment Services Act.

However, it wasn’t until CBC News contacted Mercan Capital that efforts were made to make payments to the seven workers. Previously, the company had made no effort to contact the truckers, the men said.

There are several problems with the contracts the men signed, according to Ken Zaifman, a Winnipeg immigration lawyer.

“To me, the intention is more to intimidate than as a legal remedy,” he said. “I would be surprised if a court would uphold these provisions, and I would be very surprised if any consultant would want this contract to see the light of day in court.”

While they are working for different companies now, the seven men have little left to live on and far less than they had imagined to send home to their families in the Philippines.




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