Flair and fantasy | Miss Charlize

FROM disinformation to the Death March, the Binibining Pilipinas 2022 candidates delivered powerful messages using their national costumes. The sophisticated ternos, Maria Claras and trajes de mestizas were still on splendid display but wonderful additions to the patriotic themes now included a cowgirl, a vineyard and a tikbalang.

While my fellow pageant fanatics trooped to the New Frontier Theater on that rainy Saturday to witness the national costume competition, I watched it via livestream in the comforts of my House of Spirits. I missed the energy of the live event but onscreen, I was able to fully appreciate the astounding details of each costume as the 40 candidates flaunted their outfits with flair and flourish.

Miss InterContinental 2021 Cinderella Obeñita and The Miss Globe 2021 Maureen Montagne hosted the pre-pageant extravaganza.

The coronation night on July 31 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum will be presented by Catriona Gray, Nicole Cordoves, Samantha Bernardo and Edward Barber. It can’t be emphasized enough that the 2022 class is so unpredictable that a sensational national attire, though with no bearing on the preliminary scores, can help a delegate further captivate the judges and the crowd.

“The announcement of the Top 10 best in national costume will be on finals night. Quite interesting kasi first time all-out fantasy ang lumabas,” says fashion director Raymond Villanueva, a member of the executive committee of Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. “The costumes looked amazing, especially up close. The Filipino designers really worked hard on their creations.”

Here are some standouts:

  • Bb. 7 Graciella Sheine Lehmann—Oriental Mindoro by Paolo Ballesteros. The host of Drag Race Philippines knows about what will stand out on the runway. The Tikbalang, a mythical creature of local folklore, stomped on everyone with its otherworldly presence.
  • Bb. 28 Gabrielle Camille Basiano—Borongan City, Eastern Samar by Ken Batino and Jevin Salaysay. Gabrielle’s delicate, immaculate features were framed to perfection in an “homage to the Padul-Ong Festival, a mythical presentation that tells the story of how the image of the Virgin Mary was mysteriously transported from Portugal to Borongan, celebrated every September 8.”
  • Bb. 23 Nicole Borromeo—Cebu by Axel Que. You’d think that the Sinulog will take centerstage once again, but the designer opted to highlight the perya, a “dreamlike melody of carousels to the joyous screams in the distance, a vibrant homage that comes alive when the perya arrives.”
  • Bb. 13 Patricia Ann Tan—Masbate City by Kennedy Jhon Gasper. Here’s an image of the strong Pinay seldom celebrated: the cowgirl. The costume is an homage to the Rodeo Masbateño Festival, with “Filipiniana sleeves made of the twine and rope usually used in rodeos, showcasing the strength of a modern Filipina.”
  • Bb. 40 Roberta Angela Tamondong—San Pablo, Laguna by Lanny Liwag. “Ahon” is inspired by the Seven Lakes and Buko Festival of the city. The intricate costume was created “using the Cavinti and Louisiana techniques.”
  • Bb. 8 Nicole Budol—Angono, Rizal by Patrick Isorena. Angono being the “Art Capital of the Philippines” and home of the Higantes Festival, the designer used the image of Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray as a higante. Herlene, known by fans as Hipon Girl, wore a bodysuit made of orange and gold crystals to symbolize the crustacean.
  • Bb. 11 Esel Mae Pabillaran—Misamis Oriental by Joshua Cyrus Ortega Dos. My hometown girl wore a ballgown called the “Laga Hu Kuyamis.” Kuyamis, the origin of the word Misamis, refers to the sweet golden coconuts abundant in the province.
  • Bb. 5 Karen Laurrie Mendoza—Iloilo City by Tata Blas-Pinuela. Karen literally wore a house as a headpiece, both alluding to her bayanihan spirit and the binukot, a beautiful maiden who is carried around town. A sentimental fave to snatch a crown, she “aspires to help other people lift what they heavily carry, so they can move forward in life,” just as she did after that disastrous “When is it not OK to not be OK” debacle by Boy Abunda.
  • Bb. 17 Chelsea Fernandez—Tacloban City by Nick Guarino of Festivali. Call it a myth, urban legend or conspiracy theory but whoever is assigned the number 17 inevitably wins the top plum of Binibining Pilipinas International. Like Ahtisa Manalo, Patch Magtanong and Hannah Arnold in the past three editions. If so, Chelsea’s journey is paved by the San Juanico Bridge, The Bridge of Love, the inspiration for her costume.
  • Bb. 33 Mary Justinne Punsalang—Cavite by Klevin Bartolaba. Together with Bb. 25 Anna Alencia Lakrini of Bataan, who courageously highlighted the Death March in World War II, Justinne took on the fight against disinformation. Ready to soar to achieve her dreams, she is the “epitome of a modern Filipina who is brave and fights for what is right and true, but at the same time is inspiring.”

Image credits: BRUCE CASANOVA

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