Milton Salinas: Chances and Choices
In the recent MaKaPinoy Fashion Show in July, held at the West Edmonton Mall Centre Stage, I had a chance to see first-hand the work of Milton Salinas. Milton is a Philippine-based designer, stylist, event and wedding specialist, pageant coach, model handler, and creative director. For the MaKaPinoy show, he was one of the featured designers, stylist and the director of the show. Milton struck me as extremely amiable, relaxed and unfazed with setbacks. I was curious to know more about him.
Milton hails from Manaoag, Pangasinan, a municipality known for the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. The youngest of 5 children (2 boys and 3 girls), he was exposed to design at an early age. The family had a handicraft business using indigenous materials and metal welding. His creative genes were passed from his mother, who was a teacher of technology and home economics. He vividly remembers his mother’s paper mache and weaving works, as a Master Teacher.
Very outgoing as a child and growing up in a feminine environment (at home and in the family’s handicraft business), Milton recalls playing with paper dolls, creating designs for his sisters’ Barbie dolls, avidly watch beauty pageants with other children, and reenacting the pageants, draping themselves with curtains and scraps of cloth.
In school, Milton excelled both academically and in extra-curricular activities. An honour student, he participated in oratory and spelling competitions. He also loved performing, was the lead and choreographer of the dance group performing modern and folk dances, formed a school theatre group, and joined music festivals and cheering competitions. In all these activities, he would design the costumes, source materials in markets and thrift shops, and style what they have gathered.
Following his father’s plans, Milton studied Political Science at St. Louis University to be a lawyer. He ran as Student Council Chair, a position he held until he graduated. Milton, however, would go home on weekends and continue to work on various municipal cultural activities, i.e. fiestas, festivals, cheering competitions. He choreographed 500 students for street dance festivals, competed and won in provincials, participated in the Dinagyang Festival, and formed a theatre group for the church. All these activities, working with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), enabled him to tour other provinces in the Philippines. In his various roles as choreographer, stylist, and designer, it was a natural progression to pageantry and handling aspiring models and beauty contestants.
Working with the youth in his projects and armed with the Student Council experience, he served as Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman, then as Barangay Kagawad (Councillor) for two terms, and eventually as Barangay Captain.
Milton found himself flitting from one project to another, including events with SM Mall, a fashion show of his personal collections, and directing bazaars and singing competitions like “Magic Idols”. He took every opportunity presented his way, like events and wedding planning, and took a course on fashion styling, which required him to commute to Manila for evening classes, and travel back in the morning. His area of work expanded to international pageants and modelling, events and photography styling, corporate shows, and directing infomercials . Not for long, he was fulfilling a childhood dream of travelling domestically and internationally for competitions and shows like the New York Fashion Week, Miss Earth, and pre-nuptial photo shoots. With the many projects he works on, Milton is often referred to as “curacha” in reference to the movie, where in pop culture refers to a person who’s always on the go and doesn’t seem to need to take a breather.
Milton’s journey is one of following his interests and passion. He reflects on his humble beginnings in this cut-throat fashion industry and is grateful for the support of his family, which continues to be the centre of his life. Although he may seem to have abandoned his political science aspirations, he applies his education in fulfilling clients’ expectations and networking opportunities.
Strong in faith, he is always aware of the notion of chances and choices, i.e. “The chances are here, the choices are yours.” And so for every project, every opportunity, he is intentional in his choices to deliver his client’s wants, and going beyond what the client expects. He takes things in stride, believing that you get what you deserve, and things will come at the right time and right way. He is proud that his relationships with his clients are not just limited to business, but strives to form a connection and friendship with those he works with.
In the meantime, Milton continues to be a Consultant for Special Events in Manaoag, upon the invitation of the Mayor and provincial government, and a voice and leader of the LGBTQ community in their municipality. This coming November, he will be awarded as Most Outstanding International Fashion Stylist/Designer, Runway Coach & Creative Director by the 21st Annual Gawad Amerika in Los Angeles.
To know more about Milton Salinas, his designs and work - FB and Instagram: Milton Salinas #miltStylesPH, @miltStylesPH.
* This article was published in the September 2022 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.
** Do you know of a Filipino, or of Filipino-descent, artist/creative or an art and culture event that should be featured? Send a message to PhilippineArtsCouncil@gmail.com.