Three Filipino artists talk about the iconic Piña

Press Release



May 5, 2021, Vancouver, BCOn May 13, join the Vancouver Art Gallery for a special talk with artist Ralph Escamillan, fashion historian Gino Gonzales and textile designer Carlo Reporen Eliserio to share the history and everlasting significance of piña (pineapple) textile in the Philippines and beyond.

It is at the centre of Escamillan’s newest performance work under his company FakeKnot. In this Art Connects, Escamillan will invite us into his research, and, joined by Gonzales and Eliserio, they will take us on a journey through the history of Piña—how it is cultivated, woven, and worn historically. 

Piña fabric is widely known as a lustrous, transparent cloth made from pineapple leaf fibers, which are stripped off, dried, tied together to form a continuous strand, and then woven. It has been used to make a variety of products from clothing, bags, scarves, and even furniture upholstery.  Piña fabric weaving has become an integral part of Filipino culture and demonstrates the history of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines in the mid 16th century and the cross-cultural impacts of this time. 

This talk, being offered as part of Vancouver Art Gallery’s Institute of Asian Art, will offer simultaneous translation from English into Tagalog and will be broadcasted live in Manila.


Ralph Escamillan, Performance Artist, Choreographer, Teacher

Gino Gonzales, Fashion Historian

Carlo Reporen Eliserio, Textile Designer


Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 5:00 PM PST or

Friday, May 14, 2021 at 8:00 AM Local Time in Manila, Philippines 


Vancouver Art Gallery ZOOM channel  


Art Connects is generously supported by RBC and Jane Irwin and Ross Hill.

Piña by FakeKnot is also supported through:

Dance Victoria’s Chrystal Dance Prize British Columbia Arts Council’s PIVOT for Individuals program

Image Credit: Raquel’s Piña Cloth Products


CART Services (Communication Access Realtime Translation) are available for Public Programs upon request. Please provide seven business days of advance notice prior to an event. We will make every effort to meet requests made outside of this window of time.

To place a request, please contact Stephanie Bokenfohr by email at

Larah Luna, Director of Marketing and Communications   788.939.4319


Ralph Escamillan 
is a Canadian-born, Queer, Filipino/a/x diasporic dancer, choreographer, and community leader based in Vancouver, BC. He creates work that questions identity, traditions, clothing, and the influence of pop culture in a globalizing society. His experience has allowed him to see the discrepancy of privilege in society, and he hopes to shift this narrative through his work under FakeKnot. He believes the body is powerful and important in communicating these ideas, and we should support the body’s autonomy/agency, political values, and ancestral legacy.

Gino Gonzales has designed sets and costumes for over 100 theatre productions in Manila, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, and New York. He has done design work for television film and museum exhibitions as well. Gonzales is a former student and apprentice of Philippine National Artist Salvador Bernal, who encouraged him to pursue further studies in Set and Costume Design. Gino attended the Master of Fine Arts program in Theater Design at New York University with the aid of a Fulbright Scholarship and an Asian Cultural Council grant. In 2015, he co-authored a book entitled Fashionable Filipinas: A History of the Philippine National Dress 1860-1960 with Mark Lewis Higgins. He was also a lecturer at the Fine Arts Program of the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines. He is currently the Artistic Director of TERNOCON–a terno-making convention and competition designed to encourage the proper construction and use of the Philippine National Dress.

Carlo Reporen Eliserio is an expert weaver, trainer, and master natural dyer. For the past five years, he has been an advocate of natural dyeing for sustainable consumption and production. He comes from a family of pineapple fiber producers and expert weavers in the municipality of Balete in the Province of Aklan in the Philippines. He did his natural dye training and seminar program at the Philippine Textile and Research Institute under the Department of Science and Technology. He has since trained dyers and indigenous fabric producers in the provinces of Aklan, Ilo-ilo City, Guimaras, and Cebu City. He is currently training and promoting natural dye techniques to entrepreneurs, local producers, indigenous fabric weavers, and the indigenous community in Aklan. Eliserio is an active advocate committee chairman of the Aklanon Pina Fiber Producers Association and a member of the Association of Civil Engineering Students.

Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of North America’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions. The Gallery’s ground-breaking exhibitions, extensive public programs, and emphasis on advancing scholarship all focus on historical and contemporary art from British Columbia and around the world. Special attention is given to the accomplishments of Indigenous artists, as well as to those of the Asia Pacific region—through the Institute of Asian Art founded in 2014. The Gallery’s exhibitions also explore the impact of images in the larger sphere of visual culture, design, and architecture.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is a charitable not-for-profit organization supported by its members, individual donors, corporate funders, foundations, the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is situated on the ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, and is respectful of the Indigenous stewards of the land it occupies, whose rich cultures are fundamental to artistic life in Vancouver and the work of the Gallery.

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