Shamaine’s serenity in silk
IN THE intricate embroidery of a terno, Shamaine Buencamino finds an unlikely source of solace, strength and serenity.
Organizers of the 9th Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (Apsa), held in Brisbane, Australia on Nov. 26, had asked Buencamino to don a national dress for the glitzy ceremony.
First name that cropped up in Buencamino’s mind to design the terno was fashion stalwart Patis Tesoro.
In a way, a Tesoro gown also serves as a lucky charm for Buencamino, who wore the famed Filipiniana designer’s creation when she won best actress in a play (for Floy Quintos’ “Kalungkutan ng Reyna”) at the Aliw Awards in 2008.
This time, she wore the Tesoro terno on the red carpet of Apsa, where she was the lone Filipino nominee. (For her work in Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s Cinema One film, “Lorna,” Buencamino vied for the best actress award with luminaries from Russia, Iran, Japan and South Korea. Screen veteran Kirin Kiki won for Japan’s “For An.”)
She conceded that one of the perks of wearing a terno is that it makes a woman feel “regal.”
“The only way to carry it is to pull your head up and keep your spine straight,” she elaborated. “A terno doesn’t permit you to slouch, so you have no choice but to look like a queen.”
Buencamino’s terno, which took two weeks to finish, was a vision in pink. “The color is called ‘adult pink,’” she clarified. “The fine outer cloth is made of sari from Singapore’s Little India—a gift from a friend. The inner lining is silk.”
Tiny, three-dimensional flowers were hand-painted and embroidered on the tapis and butterfly sleeves.
“The petals were also trimmed with gold. One person usually works on one dress. Then, another person does the painting, and another takes charge of the embroidery and glitter,” she noted.
In short, it was a major production.
“I chose Patis because her designs are fun and pretty,” she pointed out. “She has an eye for colors and mixing prints and textile. Her creations make me feel special… as if I am not just wearing a gown, but an artwork. So much craftsmanship and attention to detail went into it.”
Buencamino, who lives in Quezon City, had to travel thrice to San Pablo, Laguna—a two-hour drive on a Sunday—to visit Tesoro’s shop.
She didn’t mind the long trip at all. “It was therapeutic,” she said of the commute. “The drive back and forth allowed me to think and pray.”
It also helped that the “place feels like a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Manila,” she related. “The shop is in a café… a secluded but open restaurant surrounded by a lush garden. It’s quiet and filled with beautiful things.”
Upon arriving, Buencamino would usually share a hearty, “sumptuous” meal with Tesoro and her family. “While eating, we often talked about the recent tragedy in my family, and how we are coping,” she recalled.
Buencamino’s youngest daughter, Julia, took her own life last July; Tesoro’s son committed suicide eight years ago.
Shamaine cherishes her exchanges with Tesoro. “From our conversations, I learned that I have to find a source for energy,” she recounted. “I have to take an interest in taking care of my health and well-being.”
Grief, she explained, could be “exhausting and draining.” “When it hits me, I can’t help letting the emotion well up and wash over me. I feel so spent after… not only without energy, but lacking in purpose, as well.”
Tesoro taught Buencamino that “energy has many sources.” “I draw mine mostly from my faith in God and His love for me and my family.”
Tesoro reminded Buencamino that grief isn’t only difficult, it also lingers. “But seeing Patis, looking peaceful in her shop, amid the lovely artworks and garden, I am assured that grief does not have to end in despair.”
She has realized that “the practice of art brings solace and comfort.” That is precisely what’s on top of her to-do list, upon her return from her Australian trip (which also doubled as a holiday with husband Nonie Buencamino).
“I will spend more time in Patis’ garden, working on my own textile projects,” she revealed. “And while working with my hands, surrounded by nature, I hope to hear the Lord’s words more distinctly. I will continue to ask for discernment in knowing His purpose for me after Julia’s death.”