In February 2020 teenager Lu Asey was preparing for her school prom in the Philippines. Unfortunately for her, though, her parents didn’t have the money to buy a dress for the big event. Seeing her plight, Asey’s older brother Maverick Francisco Oyao decided it was down to him to come to the rescue.
A resident of Zamboanga City in the Philippines, Asey was just like any other student in junior high with prom around the corner. Indeed, this event is one of the biggest highlights of the entire school year, and contemplating it gets youngsters very excited in anticipation of their big day. But as we’ve already mentioned, Asey’s plans for the dance were quickly derailed.
While Asey came to terms with the situation at home, her brother Oyao decided to step in. He was a student at Western Mindanao State University, where he studied culture and arts. Given the importance of the prom, he wanted to help his younger sister out in any way he could.
With that in mind, Oyao devised a plan to ensure that his sibling didn’t miss out on her big night. Then, the college student shared the story in a lengthy Facebook message in February 2020. However, there was no way he could have predicted what happened next: soon afterwards, his social media post went viral.
As many of you will no doubt attest, prom can be a costly endeavor for high school students and their respective families. After all, renting or buying the perfect attire doesn’t always come cheap, especially if you want to stand out from the crowd. In the Philippines, though, the prices of dresses really do vary.
For instance, one of the cheaper prom dresses on sale in early 2020 would set someone back just over $37. But on the flipside of that, a much fancier garment currently costs in excess of $647. So keeping those numbers in mind, Asey was dealt a major blow ahead of her dance in February 2020.
Prior to the event, Asey was in the final few months of junior high, and looked to celebrate the occasion with her fellow classmates. Yet as we touched upon earlier, the prices of the prom dresses – even the cheaper ones – were much too high for her family to be able to afford. Due to that, there was a very real possibility that she wouldn’t be able to attend the school gathering.
Undeterred, Asey then turned to her older brother, hoping to find a solution to the problem. Those conversations subsequently carried over into the following days, as Oyao pondered what to do. In the end, the culture and arts student came up with an interesting idea to help his distressed sibling.
From there, Oyao put his ambitious plan into practice, knowing everything simply had to come together by the time of the prom on Valentine’s Day. But his efforts didn’t end there, though. Indeed, he decided to share his story on Facebook as well, with Asey’s brother revealing what he did in great detail.
To kick things off, Oyao touched upon the moment when his sister realized that she had a problem. He wrote, “It all started during the first confirmed announcement from [Asey’s] school about their upcoming junior and senior prom. She required a ball gown which was very expensive, and mama and papa couldn’t afford it.”
Oyao continued, “I told [Asey], ‘Maybe you won’t [be able to go], or where are we going to get a rental?’ And she insisted that she really wanted to [attend the prom] because it’s her last year in junior high, which is right. I suddenly felt pity.” At that point, an idea popped up in his head.
Given Asey’s desire to go to prom, Oyao suggested that he could create a dress himself. In his opinion, this wouldn’t be as costly as buying one from a shop. However, the university student hesitated a little bit after bringing his thoughts to light, as he saw the challenges ahead.
On top of that, Oyao didn’t have any experience in fashion designing, which put another hurdle in their way. Yet Asey seemed to have an unshakeable faith that her brother could pull it off, so casting aside his doubts, he went ahead and took the plunge. Regardless of how tough it would be, the Zamboanga City resident got to work on the dress.
Oyao wrote, “I browsed YouTube and Google for different types of ball dresses, especially Michael Cinco’s spring and summer collection. [Then I] started conceptualizing. Day by day as I started [to make the dress], I was excited to see the outcome, and I did not even imagine the amazing [results].”
After laying everything out, Oyao then discussed the process in even more detail via a number of images. Each picture captured a different stage of the gown’s creation, while Asey’s older sibling also included captions to describe the various scenes. And due to his inexperience, the first step proved to be quite daunting.
The opening photograph captured a shot of some blue fabric on the floor, with a tape measure stretched over it. Alongside that, a piece of beige material had been left there too, covering a portion of the space. Oyao admitted, “This is my first day [and I’m nervous]. I don’t know how to start.”
From there, we’re provided with another image of the beige material, which had been cut into a certain shape. As it turned out, this was actually a sheet of “Manila paper.” Once Oyao cleared that up, he then shared the next photo, highlighting what he did next with the blue fabric.
Using the Manila paper as a template, Oyao chopped the blue material up into nine different panels. After completing that task, he wanted to showcase his design for the dress, so he snapped a picture of a drawing. The college student’s artistic skills were on full display there, as he claimed Cinco had inspired the look.
Meanwhile, the next step required Oyao to drape some white material over the top of the fabric. He wrote, “So here it started, the bloody detail! I used white satin ribbon to make a criss-cross pattern to change the plain-colored blue fabric. It was 98 pesos [ just under $2] per roll, [and] I used two rolls.”
Following that step, Oyao shed a bit more light on his thought process regarding the colors. For you see, Asey’s prom had a wintry theme, and he wanted the dress to reflect it. To that end, he purchased some additional fabrics in white and light blue for about 60 cents a meter.
Oyao then shared the next photo, after stitching all of the fabrics together. At that stage, the lower half of Asey’s dress was beginning to take real shape. Her brother wrote, “And here it is, mama and I are sewing the nine cuts of panel skirt. Shout out to my mom, who is also all out for support!”
Unsurprisingly, Oyao wanted to see what the dress looked like once he had completed the sewing with his mother. To start with, the student snapped a photo of a baby girl, who was engulfed by the garment. Once he had got that shot, Asey tried on the unfinished design, giving him a better view.
However, Oyao believed that the dress was a little cramped in the house, so he made a suggestion. With Asey in tow, they ventured into the sun-kissed yard, where there was a lot more room to showcase the gown. Even though the work was only half done, the gown was already starting to take shape – and the signs were promising.
Oyao then moved on to the next step, as he took a picture of some white flowers. He wrote, “[These are] detailed flowers for the accent of the skirt. Work work! Actually, it’s a plastic flower. They’re used for decoration at events, and for sale per stem. I bought 75 pesos-worth [about $1.50] in City Mart.”
But the debutant tailor’s work with the plastic blooms didn’t end there, as we’re about to find out. The dressmaker continued, “And I put beads on the flowers. So I bought the beads for 18 pesos [about $0.35] per pack. I only used two packs.” At that point, he posted a second photograph of the white blossoms.
From there, Oyao attached the flowers to the lower half of Asey’s dress, placing them at the top of the criss-cross patterns. After that, the Zamboanga City resident then moved on to the bodice. This piece of material was white to begin with, before he pulled out some paint to alter its appearance.
“I’m here to amaze,” Oyao wrote on Facebook. “As a culture and arts student I applied my painting skills [here]. I painted [the bodice] as ombré blue to fit in with the color palette of the lower part of the dress. I remembered it’s 1:00 a.m. but [I still worked] for my sibling.”
Despite feeling exhausted, Oyao’s mood picked up when the two halves of the dress were brought together on a stand. As he said himself in the photo’s caption, “I lost my tiredness [after] seeing that the consequences of what I was doing was already beautiful. Keep it up, it’s almost done!”
With that in mind, Oyao began to work on the sleeves of the dress, which really stood out upon completion. Looking back at that, he humorously questioned if someone like Cinco would consider that to be his biggest “strength” so far. Then, to finish up, Asey’s brother added a circular pattern around the gown’s skirt.
After nearly two weeks of hard work, Oyao finally completed his sister’s prom dress. He went on to snap a photo of Asey in the finished garment, as she also wore a silver crown. And while the junior high student posed in her jaw-dropping outfit, her sibling shared his emotional reaction on social media.
Oyao wrote, “February 14, 2020. A day that I will never forget. I even cried with joy because it paid off the sleepless nights and I saw my sister’s joy. I am very happy because my sibling is so happy.” Off the back of that, he then shared a few more pictures of Asey as she celebrated her school prom.
Doubtless because of the amount of sheer hard work that he had put into his project, and devotion it showed towards his sister, Oyao’s initial Facebook post quickly went viral, as users flocked to read the story. Since being posted, it’s earned over 93,000 likes and just under 80,000 shares. In addition to that, the post has generated more than 5,000 comments as well.
Many of those messages were incredibly positive, with Oyao receiving some lovely compliments in the comments section. One social media user wrote, “That is an amazing gown! Truly a fairytale dress like Cinderella. You are so talented.” And the kind words didn’t end there, as we’ll soon find out.
Indeed, a fellow Facebook user wrote, “This is the most stunningly beautiful, intricate, take-my-breath away ball gown I’ve ever seen. Not to mention a gift made of love. All the thumbs up and likes to you, this is a stunning craft. I want to give you a giant hug and tell you how much I’m proud of you.”
Those feelings were echoed by another individual in the comments section, who also made an interesting point. After hailing Oyao’s work on the dress, the Facebook user looked to the future. Although he was studying culture and arts at college, they believed that he had a chance in the fashion sector.
The social media user said, “You are exceptionally talented. [I] have not seen a ball gown like that. [You] should consider going into the industry of fashion. What a beautiful thing to do for your sister.” That didn’t signal the end of the positive comments, though, as they continued to flood in.
However, one other message really stood out from the rest, as a Facebook user praised both Oyao and Asey. Alongside that, they reiterated one of the previous points as well, focusing on his skills as a dress designer. According to the individual in the comments section, the talented student had the potential to make a lot of people very happy.
“You have an amazing talent and a gorgeous model to build upon,” the social media user wrote. “You both have a tremendous future ahead of you. Never forget where you started. Your talents will grow and people will [soon] know you. People will fight to wear your designs. Stay humble.”
Just a few days on from making that viral post on Facebook, Oyao took to the social media website again in February 2020. As it turned out, he had another dress design that he wanted to share with the world. But this gown was very different to the one that Asey wore at her prom.
Unlike the prom dress, this particular effort was teeming with different colors, ranging from pink to blue. It also had a large bit of material that covered the back, which resembled a peacock’s feathers. The gown was certainly unique, and you wouldn’t bet against Oyao producing something else in the near future.