It was as if somebody wrote a memo and everybody read it—wear “terno.”
Of course there was no memo—in fact, the invitation to the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Aquino merely said Filipina dress for women and barong for the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and barong or suit for the other guests.
But unlike the previous years, Monday’s Sona saw the majority—almost all, even—of the women in terno. Previous Sonas saw the women in various interpretations of the Filipina dress, from terno to baro’t saya or Maria Clara.
Monday, it seemed, the women upped the glamour ante and wore long ternos, either in jewel colors or muted shades and in various draping or ruching treatments of soft, supple chiffon, crepe or silk.
As expected, Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez stood out in a pale pink Randy Ortiz terno with rosettes of the same color sprinkled on the bodice and skirt. Statuesque, she sat gracefully in the cramped plenary hall seat that hardly left room for her terno’s train.
Like a garden
“I look like a garden,” Pampanga Rep. Anna York Bondoc exclaimed as she greeted a congressman’s wife.
Bondoc was in an attention-grabbing black terno with huge flowers. Even its butterfly sleeves of multicolored tulle bore miniature flowers. She was easily the most visible in the plenary hall, even from the third-floor gallery.
“Malinaw na malinaw,” a session hall page gushed.
Roy Gonzales of the venerable fashion house R.T. Paras and who used to be the designer of the House of Jean Patou in Paris, did Bondoc’s gown.
Makati Rep. Abigail Binay was in an Ivar Aseron blush pink gown with diamond dangling earrings and diamond-studded white gold lace cuff.
Sen. Miriam Santiago lit up the red carpet in a burnt gold terno by Inno Sotto.
Party-list representatives were not to be excluded from the fashion talk. They made their political statements through fashion.
Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela was in a white skirt with slim black stripes symbolizing prison bars to highlight the plight of distressed overseas Filipino workers. She wore a purple and fuchsia kimono and a bag printed with the words “Bring Them Home.”
Gabriela’s Emmi de Jesus was in a pink and gray Maria Clara with the words “Scrap E-Vat” on the shawl.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño was in an Edgar San Diego barong with the words “Right to Know Right Now” embroidered in red to stress the clamor for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill.
At least four legislative spouses favored designer Paul Cabral, who also did the barong of Mr. Aquino for this Sona.
Newly elected Ilocos Sur Rep. Ryan Singson’s wife Patricia Savellano was in an off-white Cabral terno made of abel Iloko and white gold drop earrings.
Alexandria Gonzales, wife of Mandaluyong Representative Neptali Jr., was in a white and lilac off-shoulder piña gown with a tambourine pearl choker with a big gold pendant. Her long hair, with highlight tint, hung on one side—“I’m channeling Taylor Swift,” she said.
Cindy Ejercito, wife of San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito, was in an unembellished magenta gown that showed off her whistle-bait figure.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s wife Lani, the mayor of Taguig City, also showed off her cinched waist in a celedon green gown with lace embroidery on the sleeves and bodice.
Former Cibac Rep. Kim Bernardo Lokin wore a fuchsia number with black feathers on the waist secured by bright yellow band.
PCSO Chair Margarita Juico was in an emerald green empire-waist terno and pearl choker.
Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao was in a Paul Cabral and wife Jinkee was in a gown by young designer Martin Bautista.
Tootsie Angara, wife of Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, was in a Chanel-inspired black and white Chantilly lace terno with ivory gazar overlay by Randy Ortiz.
Melanie Alvarez, wife of Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez was in a yellow embroidered piña silk gown with floral pattern.
Jip Remulla, wife of Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla, was in an emerald silk chiffon terno by Jojie Lloren.
First Sister Kris Aquino was in a blush terno by Cary Santiago.
A very slim Assunta de Rossi was in a cobal blue beaded gown by Cheryl Vicente.
Helen Gamboa, wife of Sen. Vicente Sotto III, was in a vintage white and black Maria Clara by Patis Tesoro.
Easily among the best dressed was Kaye Tiñga, wife of Taguig Rep. Sigfrido Tiñga. She was in a most innovative Pepito Albert Maria Clara—its kimono top done like a piña shawl draped on the shoulders, over a black skirt. Pepito Albert gold jewelry complemented her look.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda R. Marcos—the woman who made the terno a global fashion icon and who, at the peak of her power, had all Filipino designers at her beck and call—was in a pink terno. It was “un-designered” and she said she just picked it out of her baul.