It’s the national equivalent of a Hollywood red carpet event: that time of the year when fashion designers and now, fashion stylists, spend sleepless nights preparing for that unforgettable outfit. Call it the SONA fashion show, that once a year happening where senators, congressmen, government officials, and their respective spouses or partners grace the hallways of the Senate to answer this question of seemingly national urgency: “Ma’am/Ser, who are you wearing?”
Set aside your queries on poverty incidence, income gap, or the HIV incidence. Spare a few seconds to focus on fabrics, embellishments, and even bling-blings. (Just make sure they are just as transparent about their budgets as the chiffon or barong they’re wearing.)
One of the most photographed ladies during this yearly exercise is Sen. Loren Legarda. “My outfit represents ‘fashionalism’—fashion and nationalism. I wanted to wear something relevant and meaningful,” she said as she showed off a red, beaded Gaddang outfit composed of an aken (skirt), a barawasi (blouse), and a bakwat (belt), which are all woven out of cotton “kapat” thread and accessorized with the traditional Gaddang intricate beadwork. A Bontoc necklace complete her outfit.
First-termer Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares came in a pristine white gown with gold embellishments by Rajo Laurel. Sen. Nancy Binay wore an orange dress designed by Randy Ortiz.
A press statement from the media office of Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao revealed that the congresswoman wore a princess-cut Filipiniana gown by Joel Acebuche: “The royal blue gazar fabric symbolizes the pristine waters surrounding Dinagat Islands that she seeks to protect as its newly-elected Representative. The blue and silver embossed accents represent the abundant and untapped natural resources of the islands that can be harnessed responsibly in order provide livelihood to the Dinagatnons.”
Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luzviminda C. Ilagan hopes to put
forward the plight of indigenous communities and the increasing threats to indigenous life and lands amid Charter Change bids through her SONA gown.
According to Ilagan, the straight cut fuschia gown styled and designed in her Davao hometown is topped with a Filipiniana bolero made of T’nalak, an indigenous cloth woven by Manobo and T’boli tribes in Southern Mindanao. The beaded T’nalak bolero is also accentuated with traditional T’boli brass bells. A backhoe that functions as a clasp partly tears through the beautiful indigenous design.
Cebu-based international fashion designer Cary Santiago designed the Italian silk tulle Philippine terno of Representative Gwendolyn Garcia. “I cut out different kinds of laces and arranged it like I was arranging a bouquet of flowers. Its very feminine and soft.”
Dawn Zulueta, wife of Davao del Norte Congressman Anton Lagdameo wore Santiago’s Maria Clara outfit with a traditional piña top and a skirt in blush chiffon. Drapery is inspired by the Indian sari.
One of the most awaited personalities, presidential sister Kris Aquino came in a drop-dead magenta gown with Santiago’s signature strips on the body. Kris, who looked visibly slimmer, stood out in her gown. For accent, she wore Santiago’s manton, which is made of the same fabric with a cut-out doily pattern and applique of the same fabric as the gown.
Her brother—the man of the moment—President Noynoy Aquino came in a Paul Cabral barong.
And now, drum roll please, here’s a look at the way our lawmakers wore their Filipiniana best.