Not known to many pageant fans, the Philippines has won the Best in National Costume award in the Miss International, Miss Earth and Miss Universe pageants. This is the list of the Filipinas who won the coveted special award.
For a Clothing Technology graduate like yours truly, the national costume is one of our favorite aspects of pageantry. And our fascination is specially peaked by the Philippine national costumes worn in the different international pageants. The reason perhaps is of course due to a semester studying all about the development of the Philippine costumes.
Before we proceed, let it be known that among the four biggest international pageants in existence, only the Miss World pageant does not award the Best in National Costume consistently. In fact it has only awarded that only twice or thrice in its 60+ year history. It is interesting to note, however, that in 1972 Filipina Onelia Jose won the award for “Most Original Gown” in the Miss World pageant. Several pageant fans have wrongly attributed it as a Best in National Costume win. The Philippines have won the costume award in the Miss International, Miss Earth and Miss Universe pageants at least once.
- Yolanda Dominguez, MI 1972 – aside from winning 2nd runner up in the 1972 Miss International pageant, Yogi also was the first ever recipient of the “Miss Costume” award in the Tokyo-based pageant. Unfortunately, there are not much available resources on the material and make of Yogi’s award winning terno. The 5’5” raven-haired lass received a plaque for winning Best in National Costume.
- Maria Dolores Ascalon, MI 1976 – just like Yogi’s costume, there are not enough resources for Dolores’ national costume except for the fact that it was another Philippine terno that won the award. This was the second of three instances that the Philippines won this award in the MI pageant.
- Mimilanie Marquez, MI 1979 – Miss International 1979 surely knows how to grab attention with her 5’11” frame. Melanie wore a Renee Salud terno made from red tulle and sequins. Her red terno was decked fully with sequins with a tulle skirt and stole. So far we do not have any colored images of Melanie in her costume but you can see glimpse of her national costume on the 2:24 mark on the YouTube video below.
- Charlene Gonzales, MU 1994 – the T’boli and Manobo inspired costume in gold and bronze was a creation of the late Pitoy Moreno. The ensemble features a Manobo blouson top and headress. The skirt and blouse was embellished with T’nalak panels and adorned with T’boli brass bells. The headdress is also fitted with brass bells. A beaded T’boli/ B’laan belt with tiny brass bells completes the ensemble. This costume would have made noise as it is paraded and would certainly be an attention grabber.
- Karen Ibasco, ME 2017 – this Maria Clara costume is the recipient for the gold medal for the national costume for Asia Pacific. It is the only costume in this list that wasn’t named as the only best costume during its year. Designed by Louie Pangilinan, this intricately printed and embroidered piece is inspired by the various stained glass windows seen in Catholic Cathedrals in the country. What made it more striking is the way the black bodice seems to make the stained glass print looks like it is illuminated from the back.
- Gazini Ganados, MU 2019 – the Philippine Eagle inspired national costume is a masterpiece by Cebuano master couturier, Cary Santiago. The headpiece frames Gazini’s face while she mimicked how the eagle moves its head. Laser cut feathers adorn the gown with a back ‘peacock extension’. The extension fans out like an eagle’s tail feathers when the wearer raises her hand. On the shoulder of the ensemble sits two majestic Philippine Eagles. Surprisingly, not a single feather was used to create this costume, all are made from fabric.
Looking at our record, it seems that the Philippine terno is the ‘winning-est’ national costume we have. All three Best in National Costume wins in Miss International features the Philippine terno. Interesting to note that aside from Karen Ibasco’s Maria Clara costume, the other notable Maria Clara costume used in pageants was that of Zorayda Ruth Andam’s at the 2001 Miss Universe in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Aside from these on the list, which other national costumes do you think should have won best national costume in their respective international competitions?