What makes Niña Corpuz a G.I.

FUNFARE By Ricky Lo

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Niña Corpuz and husband Vince Rodriguez with daughters Stella and Emily.

Niña Corpuz is a G.I. (that is, Genuine Ilocana).

Every time she comes back from a vacation in her native Ilocos Norte, she gives friends such pasalubong as bagnet, sukang Ilocano, garlic and longganisa maybe to show how proud she is of her birthplace.

From field reporter to TV and radio host, Niña has ventured into designing children’s wear using, you guessed it, the traditional fabric Inabel (Ilocano term for hinabi or hand-woven) from Ilocos Norte.

“I grew up seeing inabel as curtains, pillowcases or blankets,” Niña told Funfare. “But this time I wanted to show how this beautiful fabric can be transformed into modern, wearable children’s clothes.”

Niña is married to Vince Rodriguez (Channel Head of ABS-CBN Sports+Action) by whom she has two daughters (Stella, four years old; and Emily, two years old, with a third child due in September). 

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Through the encouragement of art patron and philanthropist Dr. Joven Cuanang (photo), Niña designed her first collection grouped into Summer Sun which brings out the bright colors of Inabel, Summer Blues which features subdued shade of blue, and Summer Moon which brings a touch of classic dark hues to children’s wear.

The collection was recently showcased in Inabel 2017 Summer Wear, a benefit fashion show held at the beautiful heritage resort of Sitio Remedios in Currimao, Ilocos Norte, owned by Dr. Joven. It also featured the couture designs of veteran Edgar Madamba who is also Ilocano.

“The proceeds from the benefit show will go to the local weavers and cotton farmers of Ilocos Norte,” said Niña.

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Stella and Emily who modeled at the fashion show (left and right) with another kid

Aside from designing, what keeps Niña busy is her shows Magandang Gabi Dok on DZMM and as host of the Health Segment on Channel 2 and online, while she’s working on a book with ABS-CBN Publishing.

How does she divide her time among her job on radio/TV, her family and her new business?

“It’s hard!,” admitted Niña. “It came to a point that I had given up field reporting when I had my second baby. I had to make a choice. That’s the reason why people don’t see me on TV Patrol anymore although I still contribute every now and then. But I won’t lie and say I don’t miss the adrenaline rush of fieldwork.”

Niña recently did a story on Inabel fabric which took her to a cotton field in Ilocos. The farmers joked that there might be snakes there.

“Well,” recalled Niña, “the reporter in me didn’t mind. That’s when I knew it had been too long! I sometimes forget I’m pregnant. I’m giving birth to our third child in September. I guess when it’s your third, you tend to be more cool about it.” She said that it’s too early to call her Inabel children’s wear a business.

“I only made a limited collection which was for a benefit fashion show,” explained Niña. “Making that collection made me realize how hard it is to be a designer! Much like TV reporting, we only see the finished product, but there’s so much work behind it. I’m happy that the clothes were sold out. It means more parents appreciate dressing up their kids in something that is homegrown and is helping communities. I thank my good friend Joven for giving me art pointers.”

The first time Niña met Dr. Joven was when she interviewed him in 2005 during the opening of Sitio Remedios Heritage Resort in Ilocos.

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Niña wearing Inabel designed by June Pugat, with Stella and Emily.

“He spoke with passion about being proud of where he came from,” said Niña. “He made me realize how creative and talented Filipinos are, and how proud we should be of our heritage. My first visit Joven’s Pinto Art Gallery in Antipolo, again at his invitation, opened my eyes to the world of Philippine Contemporary Art. Although I never really asked him about pointers, I guess I learned from looking at his collection and listening in on his conversations with artists.”

I know Dr. Joven and his passion for the arts is not for his own sake; he wants to share it.

“He is constantly thinking of projects that will give back and help not just one person but communities. He inspired me to make Inabel children’s clothes, not just to promote Filipino craftsmanship, but to also help our local weavers and cotton farmers,” added Niña. 

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.) — Fashion show photos by Pop Manuel & Heidi Cecilio of Studio XOXO

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