Popular nurse Edwin is a wearer - and designer - of many hats
2017-09-01 21:02:50 -

The Integration Question with Princess Pamela Toyin

By getting his hospital colleagues to model hats in a special fashion show, Filipino nurse Edwin Alcazar may have achieved a first in bridging the gap between the health and fashion industries.


Describing himself as “a veteran fundraiser, a fashionista, a good cook and a wonderful dancer”, Edwin currently works as a full-time cardiothoracic ICU Nurse at St James Hospital in Dublin. But he’s also determined to make a name for himself in Irish fashion circles, putting his imagination to work in his ravishing hat designs made from qualify fabrics, beautiful feathers and classy accessories.


Many of these creations were on display in a special fashion show he organised in January 2014 to raise funds for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. That was one of the deadliest tropical storms to ever hit south east Asia, and was particularly devastating for the Philippines, killing no less than 6,300 people. Edwin saw an opportunity to do something to help alleviate that suffering with an evening of happiness.


“It was so much joy to see my work colleagues who took part in my fashion show,” he recalls. “They are so supportive to model my hats and be part of the programme.”


Creativity is apparently a key trait for Edwin, who says he has been into artistic endeavours, and fashion in particular, for most of his life.


“Fashion for me is an innate passion; it couldn’t be taught by a school or even be influenced by others. Fashion is within you from birth as you grow.”


One of his earliest memories is from kindergarten, when a nun in his school appreciated his drawing of a “beautiful” cake, which interestingly in Edwin’s mind was a drawing of a dress. 


As he grew older, his interests turned to curating his own wardrobe, and today he is regularly called upon for weddings and other events by family and friends alike, involved in everything from design to consultation.


Edwin’s arrival in Ireland 17 years ago may not have been planned – he missed a job offer with a UK firm and Ireland was his “second option”, as he puts it – but in hindsight, he believes it was ordained by fate.


“I am happy, lucky and blessed to be given a chance to work and live here,” says the Filipino, whose work as a nurse takes priority in his life – even above his passion for fashion.


“I am proud to be the first Filipino nurse to work in the newly opened Keith Shaw Unit in St James Hospital,” he says. “I look after and take care of heart surgery patients having a cardiac bypass or valve surgery, and my workplace is like my family. 


“My work colleagues are very supportive of my craft and they encourage me to pursue my fashion dreams by giving me time off for my fashion studies. I am so loved, lucky and blessed that I get full support from my work to become what I am now.”


Edwin is a good example of how a talented person can seize life’s opportunities. That includes naturalising as an Irish citizen. “It gives me a chance to travel and explore the world to get inspiration for my passion,” he says of the freedom accorded by his Irish passport.


That freedom also means freedom from prejudice in his new home, for the most part. “Sometimes on a night out or clubbing, I get some racist remark from drunken people. But I just laugh it off and avoid any conversation or confrontation because I know they are intoxicated.”


Much more influential on him is that he “can see some of my culture and values here in Ireland from being Catholic and [from a] close-knit family.”


As a single man, Edwin is not sure where the future will take him – even if that’s away from Ireland. But whatever lies ahead, he’s sure it will be determined by his fashion creations. 


“I will see where my hats would bring me, and of course it is by God’s will. I am grateful to have lived and worked here for the past 17 years.”


Princess Pamela Toyin has gained experience since the mid 1980s working in various fields and interacting with people of different tribes and ethnicity. With her passion for diversity, she is propelled to report a diverse range of issues that facilitate intercultural dialogue and integration, which can change social, economic, and cultural stereotypes, and believes there are lessons to be learned from everyone. Talk to her on +353 (0) 87 417 9640 or email echoesmediainternational@gmail.com

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