Some politicians opted to voice out their issues through their clothes while other attending politicians simply stuck to the dress code, appearing in intricately embroidered barongs and designer ternos. In photo: Sen. Pia Cayetano in a Michael Leyva gown embellished with beadwork over a yakan fabric. Photo by JILSON TIU
Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — For this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), several politicians arrived at the House of Representatives in protest fashion. There was a clear theme: defend national sovereignty against China.
Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate wore a barong hand-painted by Karapatan legal counsel Atty. Sol Tauli that depicted Chinese boatmen snagging a star from the Philippine flag atop a bangka. It is a reference to the Reed Bank incident which Pres. Duterte dismissed as a “maritime incident or accident.”
Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate in a handpainted barong meant to assert national sovereignty of the West Philippine Sea. Beside him is his guest, Ka Bobby, a fisherman from Zambales. Photo by JILSON TIU
“Ito’y tungkol sa ating assertion ng national sovereignty sa West Philippine Sea,” says Zarate. “[Nais ko na] ipaglaban natin ang ating national sovereignty, ipanawagan kay Duterte ... na huwag ipagkanulo ang ating teritoryo, ang ating pambansang sobereniya, ang ating pambansang patrimonya sa Tsina lalo na.”
Zarate also introduced his guest, Ka Bobby, a fisherman from Zambales.
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago arrived in a blue terno accentuated by a hand-painted sash that represents her party-list’s commitment to national sovereignty as well.
“Itong sash seeks to demonstrate the commitment of the young people to defend our national sovereignty,” says Elago. “We're hoping na sa SONA ni pangulo, mababasura sana ‘yung mga kasunduan na nagmomortgage doon sa future ng mga kabataan.”
Elago’s choice of blue terno and sash “not only symbolizes the abundance of our marine resources, but also the hope of the young people.” Photo by JILSON TIU
Elago explains the significance of the color blue: It is the color that “not only symbolizes the abundance of our marine resources, but also the hope of the young people.”
Newly appointed Bayan Muna Rep. and Manobo leader Eufemia Cullamat arrived clad in her tribe’s traditional garb. She was flanked by members of Dumagat and Igorot tribes that will be affected by the building of the China-funded Kaliwa and Chico dams.
Several lawmakers and guests also arrived in designer Filipinianas whose designs make use of or are incorporated with indigenous textiles — a recent trend among local designers that is not without its critics, as the ethical implications of commodifying or appropriating Indigenous Peoples’ traditions has become a topic of debate.
Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque showed up in a Jomar Habana-designed barong that is made with a combination of Manobo weaves and piña seda, while Antique Rep. Loren Legarda arrived in a violet Michael Leyva terno detailed with textiles from her hometown. Sen. Pia Cayetano also wore a Michael Leyva gown embellished with beadwork over a yakan fabric.
Meanwhile, other attending politicians simply stuck to the dress code, appearing in intricately embroidered barongs and designer ternos.
Bayan Muna Rep. and Surigao del Sur-native Eufemia Cullamat in Manobo garb [center] attends the SONA together with members of Dumagat and Igorot groups who are from tribes that will be affected by the Kaliwa Dam and Chico Dam projects. Photo by JILSON TIU
Marga Montemayor-Nograles, together with husband Davao 1st District Rep. Karlo Nograles. She is the founder of Kaayo Modern Mindanao Products, a social enterprise that incorporates Mindanao textiles in clothing, shoes, etc. Photo by JILSON TIU
Loren Legarda in a violet Michael Leyva terno detailed with textiles from her hometown of Antique. Photo by JILSON TIU
Pia Cayetano in a hot pink Michael Leyva yakan gown. Photo by JL JAVIER
Risa Hontiveros’ outfit was also an homage to local designers. Her Joel Acebuche-designed pina barong with sleeves was made with textile from Kalibo and embroidered in Lumban, Laguna. Her shoes were made by local shoemakers in Marikina. The SOGIE Equality Bill author also had a Pride pin attached to her barong in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Photo by JILSON TIU
Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman in a Maria Clara-inspired terno designed by Paul Cabral. Photo by JL JAVIER
Sen. Imee Marcos wears a yellow and red gown designed by Mark Tumang. She says she is already sick of political clashes, so she opted for one that will unify colors. "Eh lahat naman tayo ay Pilipino, kaya sinuot ko nang sabay-sabay [We're all Filipinos; that's why I wore them all together]," she explains. Photo by JILSON TIU
Sen. Tito Sotto together with his son, Quezon City vice mayor Gian Sotto. Photo by JL JAVIER
Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo in a customized black suit. Photo by JILSON TIU
Sen. Lito Lapid, wearing a barong, swooshes by the press surrounding the red carpet. Photo by JILSON TIU
Sen. Migz Zubiri together with his wife Audrey Zubiri, who is donning an Ito Curata ensemble. Photo by JILSON TIU
Sen. Joel Villanueva giving an interview to the media. He tells CNN Philippines: “We wanted to hear more of his programs in alleviating poverty, supporting the labor sector.” Photo by JL JAVIER
Sen. Bong Revilla together with his wife, Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado. Photo by JILSON TIU
Rep. Lani Cayetano, the wife of newly-elected House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, sports a Paul Cabral terno. Photo by JILSON TIU
Sen. Grace Poe in a pearly white mid-length terno. On Duterte's 2019 SONA, she says: “I hope he will discuss certifying the Public Services Act as an urgent measure.” Photo by JL JAVIER