MANILA, Philippines?The biggest annual fashion event in the Philippines, a.k.a. the State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday produced a new set of fashion plates as well as resurrected old ones.
Both types knew how to grab the spotlight.
Even in her bright yellow terno, Tessie Daza could have easily escaped one?s notice?but she was not about to allow that.
The wife of Samar Rep. Raul Daza, aided by a personal assistant, herded the media to show off details of her SONA outfit.
?It?s Puey Quiñones,? she said, referring to the Samareño fashion designer. The terno itself was undistinguished, save for a large sequined yellow ribbon on the bodice.
?Look at my nails,? she added, showing off her fingernails painted alternately in black and yellow, accented with the Aquino signature ribbon.
Her toes also sported the same nail art.
Daza?s daughter Gina was also in a Quiñones yellow and black terno?a nod to the President, Daza explained.
?You know, I have to do this because otherwise, they would be taking photos only of the likes of Lucy Torres,? Daza said, referring to the new solon from Leyte and show biz.
Every inch a pro
She may be a greenhorn in politics, but first-term Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez was every inch a pro when it came to parading the terno on the red carpet.
She wore a Randy Ortiz hydrangea blue terno with callado top and sunburst of embroidered roses and vines on the skirt and bodice. The congresswoman from Leyte made heads turn as she glided with ease on the red carpet with actor-husband Richard Gomez.
Sporting a ponytail, Gomez complemented her look with a pair of blue cameo earrings and brooch by the late Jul Dizon. It was the same shade of blue the Gomezes used as their wedding motif.
?I?m actually enjoying the moment,? she said. ?I?m not nervous at all. I?d be nervous when the real work begins.?
Fellow celebrity and SONA ?veteran? Assunta de Rossi-Ledesma, wife of Rep. Jules Ledesma of Negros Occidental, wore a canary yellow terno accented with artificial flowers cascading on her chest by Avel Bacudio.
Bacudio gave the sleeves a dramatic lift by accenting them with tiered fabric done in tiny folds. Ledesma claimed to have chosen the iconic color for no apparent reason.
?My husband and President Noynoy belong to different parties,? she said, ?but the results in our province speak for themselves. He won overwhelmingly.?
Her husband is well-known for having been absent the most in the House.
He was absent at the voting for speakership in the morning but was at the SONA in the afternoon.
Sen. Loren Legarda didn?t pass up the occasion to make a statement. In keeping with the hard times, Legarda ditched the services of a designer and instead dug into her baul of old fabrics sourced from the provinces.
Legarda tied a sheet of striped malong made of shiny hablon around her waist and paired it with an off-shoulder piña top with lace trimming that once belonged to her late mother Bessie. She also used her favorite Celestina minaudiere, a prototype given to her by model-turned-designer Tina Ocampo.
Her short, teased hair revealed a pair of dangling earrings she also inherited from her mother. Made of antique gold, the heirloom pieces were fashioned from old jewelry pieces sourced from diggings.
?My mom has always been an inspiration to me,? Legarda said. ?By wearing these pieces, I also wanted to show that we could still promote culture even in the midst of austerity.?
Cindy Ejercito, wife of San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor ?JV? Ejercito, wore an understated coral terno with pleated detail made of chiffon by Frederick Peralta.
Like Legarda, she also wore something borrowed to the SONA. In Ejercito?s case, however, her statement necklace made of eye-popping gold and diamonds was ?on loan? from her mother-in-law, San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, another old reliable, wore a modernized black-and-white gown with puff sleeves and fishtail skirt by Mia Urquico. Pleated and cut close to the body, the rather safe choice complemented the svelte Cayetano.
Former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros went out of her comfort zone by slipping into a strapless white tent dress with handpainted and semi-beaded black gumamelas by Joel Acebuche.
It was her take on the tapis, she said. Although Hontiveros carried the look with ease, even if some women in the gallery felt that the outfit was inappropriate for such a formal event.
Teresa Sampar, mother of party-list Rep. Mark Sampar, looked elegant in an ecru terno with tiered bodice that morphed into a soft peplum by Larry Espinosa. For his latest creation, the designer combined piña and chiffon.
Former actress Sheila Ysrael-Fernandez, wife of Laguna Rep. Daniel Fernandez, showed off her curves in a blue green terno with a ruched bodice and hints of beadwork by Edward Teng.
Unlike Ledesma, a number of politicians deliberately wore their sentiments on their skirts. Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela wore a fuchsia terno by Roel Rivera with hand-painted and beaded images of militant women by Ramona dela Cruz-Gaston.
Members of the Presidential Security Group reportedly barred party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis from entering the session hall unless he ditched his salakot with the words ?genuine land reform now.? For some reason, the barong-clad Mariano was later let in with fellow party-list representatives, including De Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan.
Former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, wife of Vice President Jejomar Binay, and former Sen. Loi Estrada had their respective ideas of Filipiniana.
Binay wore a purple terno accented with twisted ribbons on the chest by veteran designer Aureo Alonzo, while Estrada chose an off-shoulder jusi number with sheer trumpet sleeves in ecru by Paul Cabral.
Among the last VIPs to walk the red carpet, pound-for-pound king and first-term Rep. Manny Pacquiao of Sarangani and wife Jinkee caused near pandemonium as photographers, broadcast journalists and House employees jostled for position to get a better look at the power couple. Jinkee looked radiant in a pale pink ruched terno by Pepsi Herrera.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño?s barong tagalog by Edgar San Diego was embroidered with the image of a fallen man, the words ?Stop the Killings in the Philippines? beneath it. The background was airbrushed with red paint. The fabric, said a press statement, came from Casiño?s province, La Union.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos also sought to promote the fabric of her province, arriving in a violet abel Iloko terno, reworked by designer Rem Divino, who also made clothes for then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The dress was originally made by a seamstress of the late Joe Salazar, once one of Marcos? favored designers.
Divino adorned the dress with necklaces Marcos bought from Greenhills, according to the designer.
Marcos? daughter, Gov. Imee Marcos, arrived in a fuchsia coat with terno-inspired sleeves paired with black pants.
Liza Araneta-Marcos, wife of Sen. Ferdinand ?Bongbong? Marcos Jr., chose a Dennis Lustico dress in her husband?s party colors: KBL-red.
Inno Sotto terno
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri?s pretty wife, Audrey, was in a pink Inno Sotto terno with a fringed tapis in a deeper shade of pink.
Pink was a dominant shade among the younger women. Aside from Jinkee Pacquiao, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado was in a pink terno by Paul Cabral; she carried a silver Chanel purse. Cindy Ejercito, wife of San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito, was also in pink.
Ivarluski Aseron?s clients, Makati Rep. Mar-len Abigail Binay, and Christine Collantes Garcia, daughter of Batangas Rep. Nelson Collantes, were templates of the modern Filipiniana for women in their 20s and 30s. Binay was in an ecru piña terno with Aseron?s gray cutwork accent on the bodice. Garcia?s was a pleated gray jusi terno with linear accents in contrasting color. The looks were both traditional yet not exactly conventional.
Kaye Tinga, wife of Taguig Rep. Freddie Tinga, was one of the bolder few who took a risk, and succeeded. The Pepito Albert dress she had on was a life-size version of the Barbie dress design Albert created for the recent Ballet Philippines auction. It had a wide black ball skirt and an ecru Maria Clara top with exaggerated sleeves.
The sleeves were also the winning point of Dennis Lustico?s design for Mons Romulo-Tantoco, daughter of Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo. The dress was a simple column in pale cappuccino silk chiffon with a black satin band around the empire waist; the sleeves, however, were woven banig-style.
Former Sen. Nikki Coseteng was in a flattering and appropriate Michele Sison aqua column dressed with beaded alampay draped over it.