Dubai: This holiday season, a 65-year old Filipina nanny in Dubai has a holly jolly Christmas message with an evergreen cheer.
Meet Dubai resident Marissa Postre – a nanny to children aged 16, 12 and 9, and a creative gown maker who is popular and respected in the Filipino community. At a recent Filipino event, she came dressed in a blue and gold Christmas-tree inspired gown.
She made the gown out of plastic bags used to pack bottled water and adorned it with red and gold tinsel garlands; white, gold and red Christmas baubles – complete with a green headdress and a star on top. It took her a week to finish the elaborate gown, that earned her the ‘Recycling Queen for 2022’ award.
A week before that, at a grand Filipino Christmas event at Zabeel Park, Postre sashayed in another Christmas-tree inspired green gown, made of old green textile decorated with gold tinsel garlands, and pinned with various sweets and candies. As for the headdress, she meticulously folded hundreds of instant coffee wrappers and turned them into a one-foot star tiara.
The gowns are a way for Postre to channel her creativity and express her advocacy. She told Gulf News: “My gowns are very colourful; and I design, create and wear them to deliver my green message that everyone must show their care for the environment.’
“I use every day materials found at home and turn them into something fashionable. From shopping bags, plastic wrappers, spoons, forks, foils, coffee sachets, plastic and styrofoam cups; discarded household decorations, old garments, etc. I can recycle and upcycle them.
“Whenever I attend social and community events, I bring joy to people because of my bright creations and I’m happy that they also recognise why I wear gowns made of discarded materials,” added the Filipina nanny, who learned the basics of dress-making after attending a free vocational course offered by the Philippine Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Postre, a single mother who is originally from Barrio Calagbangan in Sipocot, Camarines Sur (south of Manila), said: “I took a vocational course on dress-making but I can say that I’m a self-taught designer.”
“All my gowns are created from scratch and I start by collecting everyday materials at home. I keep coffee sachets, water bottles, plastic spoons, straw, grocery and shopping bags, etc. Nothing is wasted and sent to the bin,” Postred beamed.
“The sewing machine was a gift to me by my employer. I take care of her children in the morning, and on my free time, I design and create my gowns at home,” she added.
Each gown would take an average of five to seven days for Postre to finish. One of her creations that she showcased at the Philippine Pavilion during Expo 2020 Dubai – a red gown made of several hundreds of coffee sachets – was done in one week.
Another gown she made was a blue and gold gown made of Carrefour recyclable bags. She hand-painted plastic spoons with gold colour and plastic cups in yellow paint for the belt and floral accent of the gown. She also made a tiara of gold-painted plastic spoons. To highlight more her environmental message, she hand-sewn brown paper cups for the lower lining of the gown. She also sported a Dh20 necklace to complete her regale look.
She used the gown back in 2019 when she received the inaugural Gawad Kasambahay (tribute to domestic employees), organised by Michelle Quinto Guinto of CMG Cargo. Postre was awarded for her loyalty, having served for the same family for almost 40 years and also for her creativity.
The Gawad Kasambahay was the first time for Postre to showcase her environmental gowns, an idea that stemmed from her own daughter and employer who both suggested she made her own gown. From then on, Postre attended Filipino community events wearing her own creations.
Harold Pozon, her employer, said: “We are truly proud of Nanay Marissa’s creativity. That she is able to use materials which would have been discarded, and turn them into splendid pieces, is truly inspiring and motivating. She is great not only in executing her ideas into awe-inspiring fashionable gowns and dresses, but also in encouraging people not to throw things away.”
Nanay Marissa has shown that we can always turn discarded items into something more useful and beautiful. Recycling and recreating – Nanay Marissa’s creations are truly reflection of her vibrant and creative character.”