Patis, tinola, atbp.
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - August 26, 2014 - 12:00am

Rustan’s dished out Patis with tinola and an array of Filipino specialties  visual as well as gastronomic  at a recent lunch to introduce the debut of fashion icon, designer and nationalist Patis Pamintuan Tesoro in its store.

In the late ‘80s and ‘90s, brides in a Patis Tesoro were wearing both a status symbol and a work of art.

But Patis now does mostly RTW, and just like her colorful life, her design aesthetic has also taken a twist. Whereas she used to be known for her classic Filipiniana style, Patis is now making a mark with her new look  Filipino Bohemian and Gypsy. (Did you know that Bohemia is a place near Prague in the Czech Republic?)

As guests from the press sipped steaming tinola served in a bowl carved out of green papaya, with a lid from the same fruit (or vegetable), models wearing Filipino Boho sashayed around Rustan’s boardroom.

One had a bola-bola neckpiece instead of a scarf, each siniguelas-sized bola fashioned out of brightly colored fabric. One sheath dress was valued per centimeter, because every square centimeter either had embroidery, beadwork or a cutout. A dress like that costs about P20,000.  At Patis’ boutiques at the fifth floor of Rustan’s Makati and Shangri-La, you have off-the-rack purchases made with haute couture craftsmanship.

“The Bohemian and Gypsy look isn’t mainstream, but it soon will be,” predicts Patis.

*  *  *

When Maria Beatriz Pamintuan was a toddler, she didn’t respond when her parents called her “Beatriz” or “Bettina.” But when they started calling her “Patis” (a pun on “Beatriz”), “I responded!” Patis laughs.

So early in life, this creative dynamo had always been unique, and a non-conformist. She was going to make a name for herself, and inadvertently made sure it was going to be all her own. In Filipino, patis  means fish sauce. It is the color of honey, pungent and distinctly Filipino. The Thai version isn’t quite the real thing to Filipino food connoisseurs.

Patis was taught the fine art of embroidery by a Spanish nun, Sister Maria Paz, at the Assumption Convent in Iloilo. So she herself is good at what her team of embroiderers do for a living.

One day, she went to a mahjong session wearing a duster with a twist  it was finely embroidered at the collar and sleeves. This sparked a chain of orders for the haute couture duster. From dusters, Patis sashayed into formal wear.

As she has for many years now, Patis employs women from marginalized barangays, and a talented retarded girl, to do fine embroidery, which is fast becoming a lost art.

“Young women nowadays would rather work abroad,” she laments. Embroidery demands dedication and patience, and for the mentally challenged girl who does it for her, embroidery soothes and calms. Callado, which is like “sewing on air,” is a specialty of Patis’ girls.

Patis does gardening to unwind and retreats to her resthouse in Laguna with husband Tito (of the Tesoro’s chain of Filipiniana stores) to recharge. She lost a son to depression about six years ago, but she soldiers on, happy to proclaim the beauty of life and nature, and the richness of her Filipino heritage through her work.

“Being with Rustan’s gives me a platform to create,” she smiles. “I am glad they took a gamble on me.”

Rustan’s special assistant to the president Mike Huang doesn’t agree that having Patis Tesoro in Rustan’s is a “gamble.”

“We believe in you,” he tells Patis. “My very first barong was by you.”

To celebrate Patis’ new home at Rustan’s and to unveil her Holiday 2014/2015 collection, the luxury department store has organized an exclusive evening of fashion and Filipino heritage to be held at The Gallerie in Rustan’s Makati on Sept. 4.

And so we had tinola and Patis atbp. for lunch that day at Rustan’s. But Patis Pamintuan Tesoro will be part of Rustan’s menu of fine choices for a long time still. After all, it’s always better with Patis!

Cathay Pacific welcomes new GM with Barong Tagalog

Congratulations to Cathay Pacific Airways, which has once again been named “World’s Best Airline” in the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards. This is the fourth time Cathay Pacific has received the World’s Best Airline honor  the only airline to achieve such a feat. The carrier also took the title in 2003, 2005 and 2009.

The latest Skytrax awards are based on a survey of 18.85 million airline passengers from around the world who voted for their favorite travel experiences between August 2013 and May 2014. Skytrax is acknowledged as running one of the most comprehensive customer satisfaction surveys in the airline industry. Airline passengers from more than 160 countries participated in the latest survey, which covered 245 airlines worldwide. The survey measures standards across 41 key performance indicators of airline products and services.

Such welcome news to herald the arrival in Manila of CX’s new country manager Alan Lui, and a fitting send-off for outgoing country manager Martin Xu. Xu, who was stationed in Manila for three years, arrived in Manila amidst a heavy downpour and a traffic jam. Though traffic jams are still common in the Philippines, and no one can really control the rains, Xu has discovered that “it’s really more fun in the Philippines.”

Xu leaves with many happy memories, and many friends, while Lui was welcomed with an embroidered Barong Tagalog. Hopefully, he, too, will discover, that it’s really more fun in the Philippines!


(That night, Cathay Pacific announced its upcoming new destinations: Zurich in Switzerland and Manchester in England.) You may e-mail me at

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with