Fashion is political at SONA 2018

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Veering away from the barong, Chief Presidential Counsel Sal Panelo sported a black suit with a bow tie and topped his look with sunglasses. Here he is with former president Joseph Estrada. Photo by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — For President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address in 2016, we saw how the traditionally extravagant show of gowns became a more modest display of Filipinianas.

This year, the dress code remained (business attire or barong for men and Filipiniana dress at knee-length for women) but a number of female political leaders nonetheless showed their flair in fashion through floor-length gowns.

Photo (Additional)-3 (2).jpg “I couldn’t resist his story dahil street child siya sa Pasay, made good in Dubai, and has now become a big Hollywood designer,” said Ilocos Norte Governer Imee Marcos on the designer behind her look, Rocky Gathercole. Photo by JL JAVIER

One of them is Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos who wore a fiery red evening gown that looks to be a modernized take on the panuelo. Made with Shantung fabric, the gown was by fashion designer Rocky Gathercole, who now dresses Hollywood stars like Katy Perry and Beyonce.

“I couldn’t resist his story dahil street child siya sa Pasay, made good in Dubai, and has now become a big Hollywood designer,” the governor said.

Also in a long gown is Congresswoman Geraldine Roman who wore a royal blue serpentina Filipiniana by Paul Cabral. Another Paul Cabral creation is Senator Loren Legarda’s off-shoulder piña top which she matched with a black long skirt.

risa-berna.jpg Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat’s midnight blue ensemble by Inno Sotto while Senator Risa Hontiveros donned an off-white dress with scallop hems and the LGBT stripes on her sleeves, which was created by Joel Acebuche. Photos from BERNA ROMULO-PUYAT/INSTAGRAM and RISA HONTIVEROS/INSTAGRAM

Other attendees opted to stick to arguably simpler versions of the terno. Senator Risa Hontiveros donned an off-white dress with scallop hems and the LGBT stripes on her sleeves, which was created by Joel Acebuche.

Congresswoman Pia Cayetano paired a black piña top with a malong-inspired skirt, both by Mia Urquico. And Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat’s midnight blue ensemble by Inno Sotto.

The male public servants present at the SONA also injected their own takes on the barong. Senator Bam Aquino, for instance, had metal black buttons custommade by his tailor, Mang Akki, while Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s barong had hablon details which was by Jomar Habana. Veering away from the barong, Chief Presidential Counsel Sal Panelo sported a black suit with a bow tie and topped his look with sunglasses. 

Photo (Additional)-13.jpg Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Emmi De Jesus (third from left) wears a pina top embroidered with “Babae Ako. Lumalaban Sa Abuso.” She is joined by (from left): ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio; Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas — who is also wearing a pina top embroidered with “Stop TRAIN law” — ACT Teachers Representative France Castro, and Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao. Photo by JL JAVIER

Representatives also took the opportunity to make their views known through their clothes. Gabriela representative Arlene Brosas’ white stylized barong also had a “Stop TRAIN law” embroidery while Gabriela representative Emmi De Jesus wore a black top embroidered with “Babae Ako. Lumalaban Sa Abuso.”

De Jesus’ look was design by Ruel Rivera while the artwork was by Benjamin Sagun and Ipe Soco of Concerned Artists of the Philippines as well as Marianne del Rosario of the UP Association of Clothing Technology.

“Not only does #BabaeAko and #LabananAngAbuso calls for the end of misogyny, it is also a fight to end the use of authority and power to abuse women and the Filipino people,” said De Jesus in a statement.

c%2Fo Kabataan Partylist Facebook.jpg Kabataan Partylist’s Sarah Elago (third from left) wore a sash that depicted the faces of peasants, women, workers, national minorities, and other disenfranchised sectors. She was with (from left) Dan Nazario, Lengua de Guzman, and Kristine Cabardo, who are alleged victims of the Duterte administration's policies. Photo from KABATAAN PARTYLIST/FACEBOOK

Another representative in protest garb is Kabataan Partylist’s Sarah Elago who wore a sash that depicted the faces of peasants, women, workers, national minorities, and other disenfranchised sectors. The artwork was created by Maricris Arellano, who is a student from the Philippine Women’s University and a member of the Panday Sining, an organization that calls for genuine freedom and democracy.

Hints of political stance were also seen in the wives of Chiz Escudero and Sonny Angara. Heart Evangelista-Escudero (in Mark Bumgarner) as well as Tootsy Angara (in Rajo Laurel) pinned the pride flag on their pristine white looks to support the SOGIE bill.

While the SONA isn’t always the supreme venue for fashion to deliver a message, Clothing Technology lecturer Gabrielle Orendain explained that clothes become powerful in this particular instance.

“[Clothes] are effective in communicating a political position because the audience needs to only see a photo to get the message, no waiting necessary to hear a talking point or a speech.”

Photo (Additional)-9 (2).jpg Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s barong had hablon details which was by Jomar Habana. Photo by JL JAVIER

c%2Fo Heart Evangelista instagram.jpg Heart Evangelista-Escudero in a Mark Bumgarner pantsuit. She pinned the pride flag on this white look to support the passage of the SOGIE bill. Photo from HEART EVANGELISTA/INSTAGRAM

Photo-1 (16).jpg Congresswoman Pia Cayetano paired a black piña top with a malong-inspired skirt, both by Mia Urquico. Photo by PORTIA LADRIDO

c%2Fo Tootsy Angara instagram.jpg Like Heart Evangelista-Escudero, Tootsy Angara, who was in a Rajo Laurel ensemble, also pinned the pride flag on her mid-length dress. Photo from TOOTSY ANGARA/INSTAGRAM

Red carpet 2%5b1%5d.jpg Senator Loren Legarda graced the carpet with her off-shoulder piña top and black long skirt, designed by Paul Cabral. Photo courtesy of THE OFFICE OF SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA

IMG_7051.JPG Senator Bam Aquino's barong had metal black buttons custom-made by his tailor, Mang Akki. Photo by PORTIA LADRIDO