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‘Modernized’ Maria Clara gown for Arroyo

By Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:14:00 07/28/2008

Filed Under: State of the Nation Address (SONA), Fashion

MANILA, Philippines?For her fashion statement to the nation, she?s wearing fuchsia pink, a subtle pitch for Filipino workmanship.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is donning a ?modernized Maria Clara gown? for her 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, a Filipiniana outfit conveying the theme of this year?s speech, according to a Palace official.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza Sunday said Ms Arroyo would be wearing a fuchsia pink number with a pañuelo or scarf, a creation by JC Buendia who also designed the President's past SONA gowns.

?President Arroyo, in the past SONAs, downplayed her gown information since she wanted her speech to be the one being highlighted,? Dureza noted.

?[But for] this SONA, she wishes [her attire] to also project the theme, the world-class capacity of Filipinos.?

For one, Ms Arroyo?s gown is made of fabric developed by the Philippine Research Institute, an agency under the Department of Science and Technology, according to Dureza.

3 weeks in the making

The fabric is a ?natural blend of silk and pineapple fibers? produced in Misamis Oriental, processed in Manila, and woven in Aklan. The dye is derived from sabang, an indigenous plant.

Dureza said it had taken Buendia three weeks to put together the presidential gown.

As to how much the gown costs, Dureza said the six yards of fabric used for the gown cost P3,000. But then, he said, ?Filipino ingenuity and craft is priceless,? quoting the President?s fashion consultant Joanne Andrada.

It marked the first time the Palace media office made an effort to reveal details about the President?s SONA gown on the eve of the address?and draw some symbolism out of it.

In this afternoon?s address, the President is expected to talk about self-reliance, environmental protection, helping the poor, and tapping the nation?s potential for catapulting into First World status.

Last month, the President also drew attention to her attire when she spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Department of Science and Technology at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Ms Arroyo then wore an old rose dress, which she said was made from piña fibers and with the dye derived from coconut husk.

?More fitting? gown

But militant environmentalists who are joining Monday?s protest actions said they would come out with a ?more fitting gown? for Ms Arroyo in time for the SONA.

That gown would be made of garbage plastic bag, metal scraps and waste materials, Kalikasan-People?s Network for the Environment said in a statement.

?Her Maria Clara outfit made from organic materials cannot hide the true character of the most environment-unfriendly President Arroyo. If she is to wear an outfit more reflective of her character and reputation, she should choose a clothing made of synthetic and discarded materials doused in toxic chemicals,? said Clemente Bautista, the group?s national coordinator.

?Arroyo?s SONA will again be full of trash and hogwash,? added Ester Perez de Tagle, spokesperson of the Environment and Natural Resources Advocates for GMA Expulsion (Enraged). ?Eight years are enough. The people and the environment cannot afford this current administration to continue for two more years.?

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