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Sona 2017: The women who caught our eye

Rep. Lucy Gomez and daughter Juliana, in Randy Ortiz—SHERWIN VARDELEON

Indigenous Mindanaoan fabrics, elements of the Maranao costume and Muslim-inspired patterns ruled the red carpet of President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address Monday.

In a move that Filipinos who opposed the extension of martial law in Mindanao may have found ironic, members of Congress agreed to wear Mindanaoan Filipiniana at the opening of the Joint Session of the 17th Congress. The dress code in the invitation indicated “Filipiniana or business attire.”

Stylized barong


Fashion designer Randy Ortiz, who made the dresses for at least five female solons, said the Mindanao inspiration applied only to the congresswomen. There was no such provision for other guests, said Ortiz, who also dressed Sen. Nancy Binay, in a stylized embroidered barong sans Maranao details. His clients told him the dress code was in support of Marawi.

Ortiz’s clients, like annual Sona standout Leyte 4th District Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, wore variations of stylized barong top paired with Maranao malong wrap skirt.

Torres-Gomez wore a high-neck dove gray top with dainty flower appliqués with a vintage draped malong skirt of metallic pale lavender and gray stripes. Teen daughter Juliana Gomez, who walked with her on the red carpet, wore a short dove gray dress with similar floral appliqués on the neckline, also by Ortiz.

Senator Binay, sporting a new sleek short bob, wore the same Ortiz barong top from the morning Senate session to the Sona. In the morning, she paired it with black trousers that had an athleisure-style sporty side-stripe detail.

Cebu 3rd District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia wore a short white terno dress by Cary Santiago. The hemline sported a Mindanaoan-print fabric, “an ode to our brothers and sisters in the south,” its designer said.

Santiago also dressed Leyte 1st District Rep. Yedda Romualdez, another stunner, in two outfits: a white custom-embroidered short terno dress in the morning and, for the afternoon, a stylized Balintawak off-shoulder top and pencil skirt. Around her waist was tied an obi sash of t’nalak fabric.

Zambales 2nd district Rep. Cheryl Montalla in Randy Ortiz—PHOTO COURTESY OF RANDY ORTIZ

Two looks

Professor Stella Alabastro Quimbo, wife of Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, also a red-
carpet favorite, chose a rather simple midi white terno by Dairo. It was draped with a Mindanaoan print fabric pinned with a sequined brooch.


Jinkee Pacquiao, wife of Sen. Manny Pacquiao, wore two Paul Cabral looks: at the Senate, a pale pastel floral embroidered full skirt and top with a Peter Pan collar; and a black-and-white lace version for the Sona.

Actress Heart Evangelista Escudero, wife of Sen. Chiz Escudero, also changed twice: a white midi full-skirt terno dress by Jo Rubio at the Senate, and, in the afternoon, a sleek pantsuit of ethnic print fabric by Boom Sason.

Rhett Eala chose a subtler approach on the Mindanao theme for Diwa Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar’s dress. It sported his signature trendy fringe detailing, but accented along the bodice and sleeves with strips of T’boli woven fabric. He also trimmed the dress with gold sequins in geometric Muslim patterns.

Lifestyle columnist Audrey Zubiri, wife of Sen. Miguel Zubiri, went for a stylized baro-slash-barong top paired with a high-waist pencil midi skirt by Joey Samson.

For Nueva Ecija 3rd District Rep. Ria Vergara, JC Buendia made a dirndl skirt of traditional malong fabric with a lavender dyed piña top and veil.

Rep. Ria Vergara in JC Buendia

Indigenous fabrics

Other attendees proudly mined their baul for the event. Sen. Loren Legarda, a champion of indigenous fabrics, paired a lace-trimmed off-shoulder top with malong skirt of Maranao weave. Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo wore a a near-similar look by Renee Salud.

There was also Tootsy Angara, wife of Sen. Sonny Angara, who wore her Pitoy Moreno prom dress, a short ecru tiered number with beadwork on the bodice.

Former president and Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Arroyo wore a vintage Pitoy Moreno dress with sakura print and beadwork, with a stylized sash draped on her shoulder.

Pangasinan 3rd District Rep. Rosemarie Arenas wore a malong outfit—a mix of Aureo Alonzo and Paul Cabral.

A few woman solons embraced the theme completely. Davao del Sur Rep. Mercedes Cagas sported a Bagobo costume with a skirt of t’nalak fabric. She also wore a traditional feather headdress.

“This is an expression of our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Marawi,” she said. “We’re being vigilant also. [The extension of martial law] is what we need right now.”

Heart Evangelista in Jo Rubio terno—INSTAGRAM

Rep. Gwen Garcia in Cary Santiago —SHERWIN VARDELEON

Jinkee Pacquiao in Paul Cabral—MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Sen. Loren Legarda in Maranao malong skirt —JOHN PAUL R. AUTOR

Rep. Yedda Romualdez in Cary Santiago—JOHN PAUL R. AUTOR

Audrey Zubiri in Joey Samson—SHERWIN VARDELEON

Heart Evangelista in Boom Sason pantsuit with ethnic print blazer—JOHN PAUL R. AUTOR

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