Fernando: Levi’s and gardeners

I NEVER owned a Levi’s Jeans before. Until now, even if I can barely afford. It’s not cheap. Not all can stretch their budget for the famous denim brand. Not if you have other things to buy first. One thing I realized is that this piece of clothing does not only speak of economic status. In many parts of this province, wearing Levi’s is a way of life.

I have two brothers-in-law who are gardeners. Both own some pairs of Levi’s pants. Nevermind if one or two are almost worn out as long as the word "Levi’s" is visible at the back.

When you get a clear peak on boys tilling some sloping land as you travel along the winding Halsema Highway, you will surely notice several of them sporting this pants’ brand. I had to ask my wife about this trend and I was told "almost every one of the boys on the garden’s wearing it."

It is not about money. Gardeners can buy more expensive brands of denims or others can content themselves with second-hand pants depending on their choice. It’s just that wearing Levi’s became part of their lives. It is some sort of unselfish pride if you wear one. It is not important whether they pair it with a slipper or whatever shirt.

There might be a historical aspect of this "clothing culture." I have not done deeper diggings but I think the Levi’s as a clothing style has something to do with our strong liking of the "wild west" character in USA. It might be the same with the love we have for country music or the use of boots among women.

Others might be wondering what Levi’s is doing on the muddy gardens. For some, it should be paraded along the busy session road instead of the countryside. Well, it’s like asking why many people who visit this chilly place wear sleeveless and "very short" shorts. The thing is, it has slowly became part of our way of life. Things that have become part of our identity are so hard to change because in the first place we can’t see no reason to change.

A way of life is more than a trend or fashion. A trend can become obsolete after a number of years. It can be forgotten. But once a practice, such as this, survives the test of times. When people still do it all throughout, it become part of us. We also become part of this sub-culture because it becomes part of who we are.

One only needs to understand how cultures are shaped in certain places. A way of life is something that is either forced or not. For the popularity of this brand of clothing among gardeners, I believe it was voluntary. It was unconscious. That’s how sub-cultures are formed. Without a prudent mind people are easy to judge or raise eyebrows. But with enough understanding, one can only be appreciative and be amazed.

Aside from our identity as a nation, if there is a clear one, we have a uniqueness formed by the sub-cultures we have in our own places. This individuality is not something to be ashamed of but something to be shared. People who have narrow minds may question some ways of life but practices are solidified not in some number of months but in a number of years which makes it striking. Part of who we are today is shaped by our practices. There will only be understanding among us if we try to understand the culture of others.