Philippines’ Best in National Costume Wins

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.

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Meet the lovely Miss Republic of the Philippines 1972, Onelia Jose! This Filipina beauty competed in the Miss World 1971 pageant where she bagged the special award for the Most Original Gown. She wore a gown that was decked with capiz shells and pioneered that even before Pia Wurztbach’s Miss Universe 2015 capiz-embellished national costume! NOTE: there are some reports that she won Best in National Costume that year but we were only able to find sources of her ‘Most Original Gown’ award. Follow us @sashesandscriptsofficial for more pageant trivia, news, rumors and updates! . . . . . . . #SashesandScripts #PageantBlogger #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlog #PageantBlogger #MissRepublicofthePhilippines #oneliajose #missrp #missworld #missworldphilippines

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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.

Filipina Best in National Costume winners (L-R): Dolores Ascalon, Melanie Marquez and Yolanda Dominguez
  • 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.

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?

The Most Memorable Miss Universe National Costumes of the Past Decade

The national costumes is perhaps one of the most festive aspects of the Miss Universe pageant. This segment of the competition is likened to a quick trip around the world in just minutes.


For a number of pageant fans, this is one of the most awaited portions of the pageant. While it no longer is a part of the finals night telecast of the pageant, it still remains a fan favorite.
Before we proceed to the list, let us first mention that these are personal picks of this blogger. Some of these costumes have won the Best National Costume award while some we’ve seen in person and in motion. This list But one thing is for sure, they all looked spectacular.

Continue reading “The Most Memorable Miss Universe National Costumes of the Past Decade”

Sashes&Scripts’ Picks for the Best National Costume

With just mere 10 days for this year’s Miss Universe pageant, we have a limited time to cover all of our usual MU coverage. One of the casualties is our selection of the most beautiful costumes in the pageant.

Technically, this post is written December 8th, but it was too close in proximity to the finals. So we decided to postpone publishing our list until after the pageant is done. Before we proceed, these picks are our personal picks based on visual impact and understanding of what these costume stand for. Here are our picks for the best national costumes in this year’s pageant:

5. Mariana Varela, ARGENTINA – The last time we saw the Iguazu Falls as inspiration for a national costume was back in 2014. It was spectacular then, it still is now. While Mariana’s costume doesn’t hold a candle to the 2014 worn by Valentina Ferrer, it still is as spectacular.
4. Madison Anderson, PUERTO RICO – if you want showgirl type of costumes, then this one is for you. The frog and the hibiscus flower costume is grandiose and shows the Caribbean flavor from the enchanted island.

3. Lee Yeon-joo, KOREA – what is truly amazing with this national costume is that is  great representation of actual traditional wear. It isn’t costume-y just to shock and awe, it is actually very deeply rooted to the country.
2. Shweta Sekhon, MALAYSIA – the entire get-up is a tribute to the Malay, Chinese and Peranakan culture. The costume tries to represent the diverse culture of Malaysia being a sort of melting pot of peoples.
1. Gazini Ganados, PHILIPPINES – this was a garb fit for a goddess.  Inspired by the Philippine Eagle, this ensemble is a haute couture masterpiece. It was modern, it was trés chic, it was haute couture at its finest. It didn’t hurt that the costume showcased the gorgeous face of its wearer and that no bird was harmed in making of the costume as everything was made from fabric!

UPDATED (12/09/2019, 6pm) – Who would have thought that our top pick actually won the national costume award? It may have been a delayed announcement of the win but still a major win nevertheless…

Do you agree with our choices? Let us know what you think of our choices in the comments below…

Creative Vision: The Making of a National Costume

The national costume has got to be my favorite part in any pageant wardrobe. I get more excited with the lavishness and grandiosity of seeing our culture represented in a garb than seeing sneak peeks of one’s evening gown.

In 2017, I had the privilege to be asked to create a concept art for Charmaine Elima’s national costume. The idea then was to capitalize on her dusky morena skin with a Nuestra Senora La Naval inspired national costume as brainstormed with her uncle Larry Elima.  One that pays homage to the Filipinos love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the costume has since then set a barrage of Santacruzan/ Virgin Mary inspired costumes in various national pageants. Even Emma Tiglao’s winning national costume was inspired by 3 queens of the Santacruza: Fe, Caridad & Esperanza…owing to three Catholic concepts of Faith, Hope and Charity. Charmaine’s costume may not have won best national costume but it did create buzz around the candidate who wore it. That costume created waves among pageant fans and that was always the goal.  Which is the point of today’s blogpost: a focus on the national costume and how it should be designed and executed.
Whenever I am doing a national costume re-imagining or asked to create a concept design, I only have two considerations: 1) it should feel and look AUTHENTIC to the Filipino culture and 2) it should create DRAMA and IMPACT.
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Authenticity is a hard thing to do nowadays with a number of national costumes in pageants. When I did the concept art for Valerie’s costume for Dances of the World for Miss World 2014, it did receive some flak on the usage of the color blue instead of the traditional black and red of the T’boli tribe. Nobody knew that the costume was actually a Blit Blaan costume, a dance from the B’laan tribe which uses navy, blue and white with other colors in their wardrobe. There is a lot of misinformation that could happen based on Filipinos limited knowledge of our own culture which is the point of research to make it feel authentic. Digging deep into the culture and iconography of clothing and how it is affected by culture is a must. Research is key.

Take into account the recent Maranao costume of Catriona Gray. A number of pageant fans assumed that it was a Singkil costume (perhaps owing to the fact that it’s the most popular Marano dance). Others had actually went to post online the inaccuracy of the parasol saying that the princess in the singkil dance only holds the apir fans and the parasol was to be held by her handmaiden (it is noteworthy to mention that the position of a handmaiden in court is reserved for the noble families not for slaves). The costume however pays homage to a less popular Maranao dance called the Kinakulangan where maidens would hold parasols and handkerchiefs as they dance. I had a long discussion with Catriona’s mentor, Carlos Buendia,  about the malong whether or not we should still incorporate it. In most Singkil dances the princess actually isn’t required to wear it, although we kept it in the concept art for illustration purposes. Actual research has to back up every design to reinforce being authentic. It is the only way to be respectful to the culture that the costume is representing.

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The Original Concept Art of the national costume…

There is also the aspect of impact and high-drama. Every costume needs to have visual impact for it to stand out among a sea of costumes. Whether it was the bells of the B’laan costume of Valerie, the body-tattoos of the Pintados costume of Mary Ann Ross Misa (this was later worn by Danielle Dolk in the national costume show for Binibining Pilipinas 2019), the religious connotations of Charmaine’s terno or the Sarimanok atop Catriona’s parasol…there has to be a focal point that gives the wow factor. There has to be that element that ties everything together without sacrificing the overall impact of the entire look.

When you put these two elements together, you get a memorable costume. Authenticity and Impact.

BBP2019 National Costume Faves

This year there were a couple of Urdujas, a number of Pintados, a handful of Maranao princesses, lots of Santacruzan-inspired costumes and a whole lot of dance moves on the Binibining Pilipinas national costume stage.

Before we get to the main part, I would have to say that a number of national costume presentation were a major copycat of Catriona Gray’s Best in National Costume winning performance last year. Everybody had to do  some dance moves that it was painful to see some ‘inauthentic’ dance steps just to get it on with the trend. Even those that were reportedly ones who bashed Catriona last year had their mentees doing dances for the national costumes. Ayy Caramba!
After my involvement with Catriona’s BBP national costume, I have to say that the experience elevated my taste on what I would look for in a national costume. I was looking for something reflective of not just culture but also taste and execution… Which one really stood out? These are our top 5 list:
5. Ilene de Vera – this should have made top 10 in the best costumes category. The pintados-slash-gitara costume strongly represent her province of Cebu. It also complimented Ilene’s statuesque frame of 5’9″ tall. Only someone that tall could carry the gargantuan extension at the back without looking minuscule herself.

4. Hannah Arnold – never-mind the knock-off comparisons with an Indonesian costume, even without the banga on the train this costume was superb. I personally would have preferred it if the extra bang were taken out as it adds nothing different from the costume itself. It actually distracts from how well executed the costume is. This Banga costume is among the three that I would say has the biggest chances of winning the best in national costume award.

3.  Emma Tiglao – love this costume to bits! And while the gold and white terno looked divine,  it was Emma’s serenely beauty that elevated it to higher levels. She was poise and class personified in this costume, the costume in itself was magnificent in its grandeur.The perfect girl to carry this perfect costume…IMHO this costume is of international competition levels.

2. Honey Grace Cartasano – this ‘suman’ inspired national costume was my personal favorite that night. Nevermind that it maybe a design that the traditionalists would raise their eyebrows on, this costume was genius! While some are put off with the head-piece, I think it compliments the entire get up as this is reminiscent of the drooping silhouette of the banana leaves used to cover up the suman. It was unique and it gave people something to talk about. And that is what I believe to be a hallmark of an effective costume.

1. Jessarie Dumaguing – among the national costumes in the top 10, this one is the most ‘alta’. I think this costume should win the best in national costume award simply because of how Jessarie carried it off! With just a graceful flick of her hands the peacock extension of her gown rises in the same graceful manner. It is not very fancy but it is very effective. Add to it is the fact that the Palawan Peacock Pheasant has the same gray-blue plumage that is as striking as Jessarie herself.

Overall the costumes this year was an improvement on the costumes from the recent pageant past. And I have high hopes that this level of costumes will be brought to the international stage during the international pageant season.
Don’t forget to vote for you pick for the best in national costume on the Binibining Pilipinas website!

Bb. Pilipinas 2019: Post Fashion Show Thoughts & Observations

So the Binibining Pilipinas fashion show  has gone by just like that and a major movement on who made the biggest impression among the 40 candidates.
The ladies walked the catwalk in three segments with the Jag Jean fashion show and a new segment by World Balance. The national costume portion was hosted by Robi Domingo alongside several of the reigning Binibining Pilipinas queens.

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS
One of the biggest surprises were the announcements  that the national costume portion of the Fashion Show was one 4 major legs of the preliminary competition. There is the close-door interviews that happened a day or two prior to the fashion show, a free speech (which presumably happened behind the scenes at which we are not yet privy on when it happened) and the press presentation. With that in mind then it is indeed clear that there are a handful of major events that the Binibini should be delivering their best. It is now understood that after the culmination of the show, a top 25 semifinalist has been selected based on their composite scores from each of the 4 scored competitions.
Aside from the top 10 best national costumes being selected, they also announced the three ladies that had the best talent presentations. Samantha Bernardo, Cassandra Chan and Alannis Reign Binoya were the top 3 girls in the talent competition. A very deserving top3 considering that these were the ones that truly made an impression during the talent night at the Farmer’s Plaza a month earlier.
We already heard rumors that there will be 3 segments in the fashion show this year from our insiders but failed to name which one will be the 3rd segment. Initial speculations that there will be a designer portion of the show which we believe doesn’t jive well with the audience who watch the fashion show. We have to say that the World Balance segment provided a great breather between the high energy Jag and the theatricality of the national costumes. Besides the WB section made sure that the girls were all styled well but look collectively cohesive as a group.
As for the Jag Jeans segment,  our gut feel tells us that the Jag Denim Queen will be from the last 10 ladies of the show. It is no joke that we saw Vickie Rushton, Aya Abesamis, Gazini Ganados, Samantha Bernardo, and Ilene de Vera in one strong group. Although I wouldn’t discount that the winner could also come from the first group as well…

THE OUTSTANDING PERFORMERS
* Samantha Bernardo – she got 2 for 2,both making to the finalist for the talent and costume competitions. May 29 was her night and she looked very radiant and nailed each of the three segments of the fashion show. We saw (from behind the judges) that two of the members of the BPCI Execom clapped for her presentation, not that it should matter (though it kinda does to fans).
* Hannah Arnold – to say that Hannah brought down the house during the national costume segment is an understatement. We have been very vocal on social media posting about her national costume, thanks to her handler Tito Ito who provided us with behind the scenes videos.
* Emma Tiglao – she was serenely calm and composed the entire show and she outperformed almost everyone in all three segments. She gave enough pizzazz in the Jag and World Balance segments but was so serenely divine in her white & gold terno.
* Jessarie Dumaguing – another one of the ladies that gave impressive presentations in all three segments of the fashion show. Her defining moment was her national costume presentation, she wowed everyone in the theater that even the matriarch was wowed and clapped for her. With just a simple flicker of her hands  the peacock extension of her costume rises  gracefully.
* Aya Abesamis – despite the overkill taras bulba hair extension that should have been left in the 1980’s where it belonged, Aya pulled of a decent performance on all three segments. Last time we were able to converse with her we mentioned that we hope she is able to put the Yakan face paint  for the national costume show which she did… Full marks for her during that evening.

COASTING ALONG THE MIDDLE
* Vickie Rushton – she served face the entire time. She did good during the Jag and national costume segments but found her too bouncy during the WB portion. It is undeniable that the small flaws she made wasn’t quite noticeable as everyone would just concentrate on her face. That has always been her strength.
* Gazini Ganados – the 5’8″ charmer did great at the Jag segment, had too much poses at the WB part and did well in the national costume portion. In as much as I love her face during the JAG & WB segments, I wasn’t a fan of the red lips for the national costume part. Had she been given a strong eye (which has always been her best asset), she would have been on top of our list.
* Jessica Marasigan – despite a strong performance in all three segments, her position coming out as first of 40 hurts her. By the time you are halfway through the 40 candidates, you’ve probably forgotten about Jessica. And that is something she has to worked on because she did very well in all 3 segments.
* Ilene de Vera – was a revelation that night. Despite BBP being her 3rd pageant ever, she showed everyone that she could slay it on the runway! She was one of the girls with the better walks in the group. It was quite a shock not to see her among the top 10 national costumes. Nevertheless, she got something better, the ‘mahiwagang palakpak‘ award.
* Leren Bautista – one of the ladies who did good but could have owned the night had she exerted extra effort specially in the national costume segment. Thankfully her face during the national costume presentation carried it for her. She still needs to work on that magnetism to really make sure she makes it among the top contenders.
* Shane Tormes – this girl gave it her all and she did remarkably well in all three portions of the fashion show. Her best performance was on the Jag and costume segments (where she showed she can move gracefully as she glides).

THE MAJOR LETDOWNS
In the interest that we do not want to discourage the girls mentioned in this part, we will just write down our feedback without mentioning their names.
* This frontrunner was a major letdown during the fashion show, she was ok in the Jag jeans part, forgettable during the WB section, ending with a lackluster performance at the national costume. The eyes were so dead and her dance at the natcos portion felt forced with her costume.
* Despite being too active on social media, it is clear that this girl should have practiced her pasarela and national costume presentation. Her Jag & WG performance was an improvement though much is still lacking. But it was her national costume presentation that was a total letdown! At this point, you cannot be just good at one thing and be terrible at everything else. If she wants MUP, she has to be a total performer in all aspects, not just on social media.
* A beautiful face couldn’t save a wooden performance at the national costume segment, a segment where it counts as it is part of the show where the ladies were judged. Despite a passable performance at the Jag and WB segments, this lady bombed it at the national costume portion. The movements were uncoordinated and hard, her costume requires finesse and refinement in movements and she didn’t deliver there.
* A girl wearing a costume from the North needed to be guided properly on our traditional dances as her national costume presentation accompanied jerky and stiff movements. The costume she wore came from a tribe of proud and fierce headhunters and her presentation did not do justice to that tribe. Her team should have advised on a Filipiniana costume for her as it would have suited her face better.
ON CLAPS AND CHEERS
It is usually detrimental in pageant when one is called clapper but during the fashion show, we were anticipating for the claps coming from the matriarch. Sitting behind the judging panel (which is mainly comprised of the BPCI Execom and Executives of ABSCBN, Chit Guerrero one of them), certainly has its perks. We have seen several girls who were recipients of the mysterious claps. In no particular order, the ladies that were given the clap were Emma Tiglao, Resham Saeed, Cassandra Chan, Jessarie Dumaguing, Ilene de Vera, Hannah Arnold and Samantha Bernardo. Emma got the cheers when she made top 10 in the national costume presentation, while Sam and Hannah got it twice (once during their costume presentation and when they made top 10).
We are not saying that these ladies are going to be the final winners but the claps and cheers from the matriarch has always been something that pageant aficionados of BBP have always looked forward to. It weights no bearing in the winner but it is fun to see that there is something we all have in common with the powers at be, that we love beauty as much as any other pageant fan. Seeing that side of her humanizes her and endears her more to fans.
TOP 10 BEST COSTUMES
Since we will be having a review of the national costumes, I won’t dig deep into it in this blog. But I would have to say that there is more variety in this year’s national costumes that made top 10 compared to last year where only a couple of Filipiniana made the list. It is no surprise that a couple of Maranao/ Maguindanao/ Mindanao made it in the top10 looking at how Miss Universe Catriona Gray made waves in last year’s national costume competition.
There are more tribal, fauna, mythological and regional costumes that made it this year. And despite several of our faves not making the top 10, I would say that this is pretty much a solid selection for best national costumes (do watch out for that later).

National Costumes for Catriona Gray

We are counting the weeks before the biggest pageant known to the universe kicks off. Just like in previous years, we have come up with ideas we would want for our Miss Universe bet to wear in the pageant.
These are just several of my personal interpretation of the costume ideas. If you have other ideas on how these can be improved, drop a comment or two below.
Here are three of the costume ideas that we believe could be perfect for Catriona Gray in Bangkok this year.

1. Panagbenga Festival costume – the premier flower festival of the north. This costume isn’t new to pageant fans as Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa wore something to this effect in Doral. The difference here is that this costume marries elements of Dior haute couture with the traditional costume. Add a lovely parasol decked with flowers and sprayed with floral perfume and you get yourself a very modern take to this Panagbenga terno.

2. The Goddess Lisuga – the goddess of stars from the Visayan mythology. It is said that a shard from her body was used to seed the human race. This would be a great idea to incorporate pre-hispanic traditions and folktales for a non-traditional costume. One can have his/her imagination run wild on how this could be executed specially with the tale that the goddess Lisuga’s body is made out of pilak/ silver. Give her a bow and arrow to signify “shooting stars” and you get mash-up of a costume.

3. Tausug Vinta inspired costume – I’d like to explore an explosion of colors as seen on the ornate vintas of Mindanao. The sails would be an interesting thing to translate to a costume. I imagine this simple costume using patchwork of sequined fabrics. The result will be a dazzling homage to the colorful vintas of Mindanao.
My option ideas span one from each island groups of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Which of these do you think would be a great idea to pursue for Miss Universe? Drop a comment or two on the comment section below…

National Costume Wish-List for Jehza Huelar

The Miss Supranational pageant is more of a showcase of showmanship than a traditional pageant. So it only goes to say that the wardrobe for this pageant should look like a fashion show of sorts.
These two costume wishlist for Binibining Pilipinas Supranational Jehza Huelar would be some of the options that I feel would be reflective of her background…

1. Mascota de Zamboanga – of course I would want something that would be apt for Jehza’s background coming from Mindanao. One of the highlights of the annual Hermosa Festival  in Zamboanga City is Mascota de Zamboanga, a gala event which showcases formal and elegant gowns called the Mascota designed by local artists. This costume would greatly reflect her roots.

2. Yakan Costume – I am deeply amazed at the white face-painting that these tribes would do during weddings. With their adoption of colorful garb, it would be interesting to see how it can be translated into very intricate outfit for a beauty pageant. Yakan weaving of cottons and silks are some of the most remarkable textiles in Mindanao. I can just imagine the numerous possibilities for this wonderful attire.

National Costume Wish-List for Karen Gallman

While it may be easy to go the ‘tribal costume’ route for Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental Karen Gallman, I believe in going towards the more classy Filipiniana for her. But I would like for her to go for more clean feminine colors to really set off her beautiful face. Her Binibining Pilipinas costume was on point but I would have preferred a more graceful and light fabrics for her. I also believe that pastels would be great for her as long as she doesn’t over bake her tan. Or go all the way dramatic with gold, red and black, I don’t think cold colors (greens, purples, blues) works well with her…

Now on to the two national costume ideas I feel would be great for her…
1. A ‘Mantilla’ Costume – the lace veil worn when women go to mass was a Spanish custom adapted by Filipinos during the the Hispanic colonization of the country. Karen’s Caucasian features would be so perfect with this Hispanic inspired costume and an added Spanish pieneta would add height and old world glamor.
2. An ‘Imeldific’ terno with a lace parasol– with a face like hers, Karen doesn’t need much of an elaborate costume. Inspired by a number of photographs of the former First Lady of the Philippines, the idea stems out of how composed and collected she looked. The focal point of this costume is Karen’s lovely face and not the costume itself. The delicateness of the design and of course the parasol lends to her beauty not the other way around.

I hope that Karen gets to be given the best wardrobe and the best training if we want the Philippines’ first Miss Intercontinental crown. Hopefully, she has already started to map out her gameplan as early as now for the international pageant…

National Costume Wish-List for Eva Patalinjug

If I were given the opportunity to create a concept art for a national costume to be worn by Eva Patalinjug for Miss Grand International, I would gladly accept the chance.

I actually have a couple of ideas for her national costume that I feel would be great for her pageant in Myanmar come October 25th.
1. Sinulog Festival Costume – of course this should be an option as Eva comes from Cebu. The Sinulog festival queen outfit would be so perfect for her mestiza beauty and will tie-up perfectly with her hometown of Cebu. I would love to make the concept art in a grandiose and extravagant manner, something that the MGI pageant seems to favor.

2. Boxer Codex Pintados Costume – one of the oldest documents in existence regarding the pintados of Visayas is the Boxer Codex that illustrated the ornate tattoos and the rich gold heritage of pre-Hispanic Philippines. The difference here is I would make it with a little more color to make it festive.
The national costume for Eva should be something that represents her and her background. I hope that Eva would be given a great wardrobe for her competition. I believe that she can actually be the first Filipina Miss Grand International winner…

Sashes&Scripts’ Selection of 12 Best Costumes in Bb. Pilipinas 2018!

The Jag Jeans and the National Costume fashion show had finished last March 3rd but it still dominates pageant discussions on social media. While the BPCI has selected its 10 best costumes, I felt that the quality of national costumes this year is so high that I have to shout out my own picks of 12.

12. Agatha Romero in John Cliff – being so close to the stage, I could see all these intricate details of the bodice of this terno. On top of that is how parts of it are added with LED lights!
11. Anjame Magbitang in Sonny Boy Mindo – this was one of those costumes that would make you feel you are a Filipino. This Katipunero costume was a breathe of fresh air as it was apt for the youngest Binibini in the pageant.
10. Shane Tormes in Polly Lagyap – another creative take on the national costume in this year’s competition. It is said to celebrate the Laing and the Magbubuko, which was an awesome idea.
9. Kristie Rose Cequena in Richard Barretto – an out of the box costume that celebrates the Moriones festival. This was one of the more creative ensembles that night.

8. Janette Sturm in Jay-R Gamboa Flores – the novelty of this costume is so much welcome. I can only imagine the long hours of creating an outfit that is almost devoid of fabric. Yes, the gown was almost made entirely out of interlocking beads!
7. Stephanie Abellanida in Archie Castillo – black and gold is my color du jour! And I loved everything about this costume, the headpiece was superb as well as the intricacy of the beading on the outfit.
6. Mary Joy de Castro in Albert Figueras – would have preferred the outfit with a different headpiece. I remembered the headpiece of this costume being worn by Emma Tiglao in MWP.
5. Eva Patalinjug in Philipp Tampus – gave drama in spades! Styled like a golden era screen goddess, the worked the costume to the Nth level.

4. Sandra Lemonon in Edwin Uy – the girl performed her best ‘Urduja’ moves in this costume. Although I don’t get which was the Ibong Adarna part, Sandra carried it with aplomb.
3. Aya Abesamis in Chico Estiva – thank God for the cape or else it would have looked like a generic gown with the apir fans and a sunray headdress. Aya carried it effortlessly.
2. Sarah Joson in Jay-R Gamboa Flores – it was a gorgeous ensemble. And it looked better in person. This amalgam of several indigenous tribes’ outfits was perfection. I loved the tiny brass bells in it as well.
1. Vickie Rushton in Francis Libiran – that punch of red at the start of the natcos segment placed the bar high. I thought this is one of the best that night. It was haute couture levels in its construction technique!
I felt that the BPCI selection has shut out a number of gorgeous ternos so I am giving it equal footing here on the list. There is also a diversity in terms of creative and out of the box choices for the costumes. I commend the designers for a leveled up national costumes this year!

Another thing I also observed that the BPCI selection of the 10 best NCs seems to be a test of which fandom will likely be the noisiest online. So I am very much excited to see which of the girls’ fan groups is the strongest on voting for the national costume award.
Note that since I had helped conceptualize the national costume for Binibini 20, it goes to say that it has automatically been excluded in this list, you know, for obvious reasons.

Catriona’s National Costume by Jearson Dimavivas & Farah Abu

The national costume of Binibini 20 Catriona Gray is a collaborative effort between several creatives and designers who worked on different parts of the costume. While the concept may have been my contribution, I would have to say that the bulk of the credits should be given to the designers who created the costume and the accessories.
Jearson Dimavivas was the perfect choice to create the costume. He is from Mindanao and his point of view of the traditions and cultures of southern Philippines was of intrinsic value. He is a designer for royalties in Mindanao and he was dedicated to delivering an outfit that is fit for a queen. The painstaking work that went along the ensemble warranted a 24/7 commitment. His insight to replicate a mosque’s dome for the headdress was an ode to the people of Marawi and the survivors of the siege.

The main outfit as well as the tasseled umbrella was created by Jearson. The umbrella was originally lighter than the final outcome. However some sort of welding was needed to stabilize the arcs inside the umbrella. It was sort of a testament to Catriona’s fighting spirit to keep holding the umbrella up considering that it weighted 4 kilos. Jearson also did a little jazzing up on the custom-made shoes that Catriona wore from shoe designer extraordinaire, Jojo Bragais.

For interested parties who would like to have Jearson create a one of a kind outfit for you, here is how you can contact the designer. Trust me, you will enjoy working with him…
Jearson’s CONTACT DETAILS
Email: djearson@yahoo.com
Instagram: @jearsond
Viber & Whatsapp number: +639156648658


Farah Abu on the other hand created the amazing accessories that went along the costume. Those gorgeous shoulder sweeper earrings that Catriona wore? Those were specifically handcrafted by the very talented Farah. Her work is just extraordinary. The first time I met her in a shoot, I had to pick up my jaw that got dropped with her statement necklace piece that she was wearing in the collage above. It was a covet-worthy piece!

Farah, also from Mindanao, handcrafted these exquisite jewelry pieces that went along Catriona’s costume. She created a lovely pair of shoulder sweepers that would help frame Catriona’s face even more. Not to mention the couple of rings set with Swarovski crystals and semi-precious stones. One bracelet she did was to genius, that it had chains that connected a ring to it! All these were used by Catriona in the national costume show.

Ladies and pageant girls! Give yourself a treat and get yourself one or a couple of Farah’s jewelry. I can guarantee that it will make your wardrobe pop!
Farah’s CONTACT DETAILS
Mobile number: +63 917 716 2153
Email: accessories@farahabu.com
Website: www.farahabu.com 
Instagram: @farah_abu

This photo was a snapshot taken at the Bb. Pilipinas 2018 Candidate exhibition at the Gateway Mall…

With the designers working in unison, the output was a visual orgasm of sorts. It was no wonder that it elicited thunderous applause from pageant fans that watched the national costume fashion show last March 3rd. Rightfully so, this costume was among the top 10 national costumes that will serve as choices of the Best in National Costume award via online voting.

Catriona’s Maranao Princess National Costume

It is no secret that I have a degree in Clothing Technology from the University of the Philippines and that I dabble in fashion illustration every now and then. Today’s blogpost is about the concept art that I did for a Maranao Princess Bride. This all started with a request to do a concept sketch for a Maranao Princess costume. Who was it for? Catriona Elisa Gray.

The Original Concept Art of the national costume…

Through a friend of a friend and that is how it started. Catriona is a very close friend of another beauty queen, Valerie Weigmann, whom I also did a national costume concept art for. Back in 2014 I created a sketch of what turned out to become the national costume that Valerie would wear in the international stage.
Shortly after the Binibining Pilipinas deadline of applications, I received the request to do a sketch. I was given a Maranao Princess peg. Catriona got the inspiration from a visit to the National Museum where she saw woven textiles from Mindanao, notable of which was the inaul. The challenge was to create something that was modern, fashionable but at the same time respectful to the culture of the Maranao people. Everything was in a rush as I dashed to illustrate the concept with as much research as I could. I only had less than a week.

The singkil being the de facto Maranao Princess folkdance was the start off point. But I didn’t want another singkil costume. So instead of the apir, I took the jeweled umbrella instead as the initial focal point and worked around it. And that was what made the entire design pop. Later I was informed about the Kinakulangan (Maranao) dance. It originated from Marawi, Lanao del Sur, and is performed by the proud Maranao women holding ornamental umbrellas while marching the “Royal Walk” or kini-kini to show their high status.

With very little time, I filled in the outfit with whatever motifs were immediately available. I had to say that whoever will execute the design should take liberties on the outfit. The only thing that I wanted to remain intact was the umbrella with its sarimanok and the beaded tassels on the bodice.

I was glad to hear that Catriona chose Jearsond Dimavivas to execute the design. Jearsond is another designer whom I had several mutual friends: Angelique de Leon and RL Lacanienta are some of them. He was the one who made Angelique’s T’nalak national costume for Binibini and also did Elizabeth Clenci’s T’boli costume in Miss Grand International last year. Small world, right? Jearsond worked 24/7 on the costume and thankfully, being from Mindanao himself he understood the culture of the Maranao. He took the concept art and made it his own, adding elements that only someone who grew up in Mindanao would understand. The outcome was something that I couldn’t be any prouder. The costume was marvelous up-close and we were all in awe.

The designer, Jeason Dimavivas with Catriona and me, your blogger…

A collaboration of minds and a creative exercise on synergy… This is what made the costume a true standout.

#FashionFridays: Charlene Gonzales’ Miss Universe National Costume

If I was asked what is my favorite national costume ever worn in Miss Universe, I would unequivocally say the T’boli-Manobo costume of Charlene Gonzales in 1994.

During the live finals telecast, Charlene did not wear the headdress portion of her national costume like the rest of the candidates…

This was the only Philippine national costume so far to win Best National Costume in the history of Miss Universe. It was designed by the Fashion Czar of Asia and National Artist Jose “Pitoy” Moreno. In his book “Philippine Costume” the entire ensemble was described as follows:
This ensemble draws inspiration from the Bagobo and the Higanon. Her upper garment is of gold material appliqued with authentic Bagobo t’nalak bands. In lieu of tapis, Charlene dons a skirt with t’nalak panels, this is further held in place with an authentic female Bagobo belt of glass beads and brass bells. The whole ensemble is reiterated further with gold beads, more brass bells. A Higanon headdress crowns her to complete the ensemble.

The costume may have earned a bit of controversy for winning as the majority of the judges who selected the winner were Filipinos. Nevertheless, the award is very much deserved as it made noise literally and figuratively.
What made me love this costume is its authenticity and the research that went into making the costume. Nowadays, designers seem to be very lazy in doing costumes that should feature our culture and customs. The country is rich with tradition and there should be more than enough resources to make one that is impactful, well-designed and authentic. And I found all of that in Charlene’s national costume…