HomeGood InspirationBehind Pinas Sadya: An Exclusive Interview with Skeeter Labastilla-Turgut (Part 1) |...

Behind Pinas Sadya: An Exclusive Interview with Skeeter Labastilla-Turgut (Part 1) | Angie Quadra-Balibay

Skeeter Labastilla-Turgut shares her journey to Pinas Sadya in this exclusive interview with GoodNewsPilipinas. Photo from Pinas Sadya.

The GoodNewsPilipinas team was privileged to be granted the first full interview of Skeeter Labastilla-Turgut, the woman behind the much-talked-about Filipino traditional weaves-infused modern fashion brand, Pinas Sadya. The conversation was a rollercoaster journey of fun recollections, stories of awakening, and even emotional “eureka” moments – leading to revelations about how Skeeter got into the business and where her mission to help build a generation of proud Filipinos is headed.

I discovered Pinas Sadya fashion from photos of singer-songwriter Bayang Barrios, a long-time friend and collaborator from my days as a music producer in the 1990s. I was amazed at how Bayang’s usual Manobo-inspired performance clothes transformed dramatically when she was reintroduced to the public as the “Katutubong Diva” in her first major solo concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I was cheering for her new look, and she readily revealed her secret: Skeeter Labastilla-Turgut of Pinas Sadya.

Kinship with Bayang Barrios

Skeeter met Bayang when the music artist prepared for her first major solo concert in May 2023, her first-ever in 35 years as an advocate for indigenous peoples’ rights. Skeeter was tasked with designing a fresh new look for the voice behind iconic songs like “Malayo Man, Malapit Din,” “Bagong Umaga,” “Pag Nanalo ang Ginebra,” “Walang Hanggang Paalam,” and Encantadia’s theme song.

A fan of Bayang’s music, Skeeter recalls saying, “Bayang, I really can’t believe in around 35 years, you don’t have a solo concert yet? Own this. You deserve this.” Bayang responded, “Kaya ko na ba (Can I do it now)?” Recognizing their kinship and shared fears, Skeeter encouraged Bayang: “You’re so great! Hindi mo alam yan? I-shine mo na yan (Why don’t you know that? Shine that).”

Skeeter was egging on Bayang with the same energy she received from others when she doubted her capability to elevate her brand. She recalls being told, “It was never a doubt that you will achieve heights. You’re the only one overwhelmingly surprised. We’re not.”

Their meeting resulted in Bayang’s Katutubong Diva-look for her opening song number, “Magbabaya.” Skeeter recalls showing the music artist a drawing that changed Bayang’s personality aura, saying, “This is your presence. This is your opening number, diva look.”

Skeeter shared, “It was a beautiful journey with her because we really came out and showed up as ourselves and embraced our greatness together.”

Full Circle of Pinas Sadya Women from Agusan del Sur

Before Bayang, a Manobo from Agusan del Sur, there was Oday, Skeeter’s first model and the daughter of a Datu from Agusan del Sur. Skeeter, also born in Agusan del Sur, had gone full circle.

In 2019, the inception year of Pinas Sadya, Skeeter urgently needed a nanny for her newborn youngest daughter Ayla and found Oday, a farm worker from Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. When they met, Skeeter exclaimed, “Gwapa kaayo ka Dai (Oh my God, you’re beautiful).” She described Oday as a pure Filipina who knew little about life and couldn’t read or write. It was Oday’s first time leaving home and flying on an airplane. Inspired, Skeeter told her, “Day, you will be my first model.”

Skeeter took photos of Oday while she pushed the baby stroller. “That’s the early beginning of Pinas Sadya until it evolved to my vulnerability of showing up in Artefino.”

But it wasn’t a one-time realization for Skeeter. “It was a journey. Ji-journey ko (I journeyed) itong Pinas Sadya,” she explains.

Stay tuned for the next part of this series, where I will reveal more of Skeeter’s journey—from leaving the corporate world, embracing her space during the pandemic, debuting at the ArteFino Festival, opening her first physical store, and her vision for a first-world Philippines and raising a generation of proud Filipinos.


As the Managing Editor of GoodNewsPilipinas.com, I usually remain behind the scenes of such interviews and our daily publishing of stories dedicated to fulfilling our mission of “Making Every Filipino Proud”. That is, until milestones started coming our way requiring my surfacing from behind my laptop and mobile phone to take the stage to accept an award and then another, and more recently hosting the Philippine Independence Day national program in Kawit, Cavite, while proudly wearing the Pinas Sadya Queen of the South T’nalak Poncho.

And so on my milestone 10th year with GoodNewsPilipinas.com, I decided to come out with a regular column featuring backstories, behind-the-scenes revelations, and anecdotes from our story interviews. I begin this new project with a 3-part feature of the amazing journey of Skeeter Labastilla-Turgut of Pinas Sadya.

Be part of our vibrant Good News Pilipinas community, celebrating the best of the Philippines and our global Filipino heroes. As winners of the Gold Anvil Award and the Lasallian Scholarum Award, we invite you to engage with us and share your inspiring stories. For stories Making Every Filipino Proud, reach out to GoodNewsPilipinas.com via FacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokYouTube, and LinkedInLinkTree here. Let’s spread good news together!

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.

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