SONA 2022 | What they wore at the red carpet

Senators Risa Hontiveros, Imee Marcos and Loren Legarda ramp at the red carpet at the hallway of the Senate before the entering at the session hall. (Photos by Roy Domingo/BM)

After two years of dressing down due to the pandemic, lawmakers and other attendees were seen fully made up at President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA). 

July 25 was a day of firsts after the two-year pandemic. For one, lawmakers were physically present at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City where Marcos Jr.’s first address to the nation was held. For two years, only limited seats were available at the plenary hall to implement proper social distancing and lawmakers were only present virtually. 

The transition from the pandemic setup to the new normal was evident on Monday through the handshakes, hugs, live greetings and even the simplest physical gestures among the lawmakers who flocked to the plenary hall to witness the whole voting process for the Speaker of the House at the opening of the 19th Congress’ first regular session. 

Before the start of the whole voting process, the plenary hall sounded like a traditional family reunion (minus the food), as if the guests hadn’t seen and talked to each other for years. Pent-up giggles and stories of ladies in butterfly sleeves flooded the hall. 

As for the dress code, with business attire and Filipiniana as options, the majority have opted to overdress rather than underdress. If there’s revenge-shopping, there’s also revenge-styling. The long, traditional baro’t sayas have missed sweeping the floors of Batasang Pambansa. 

However, not all lawmakers were pleased with the fashion show comeback at the State of the Nation Address, as progressive groups frowned upon the ban on wearing clothes that convey political messages. Despite the earlier ban, though, Representatives Arlene Brosas, France Castro, and Raoul Manuel still donned their party-list group’s advocacies through their respective ensembles. 

Brosas, the representative of Gabriela Partylist, wore a Filipiniana that displayed a design which “depicts the Filipino women’s struggle against rising prices of oil, food and basic necessities in the ‘Era of Golden Prices’ of the Marcos Jr. regime”. 

For her part, ACT Teachers Representative France Castro wore her protest attire which includes a black shawl that has a painted image on it. According to ACT Teachers Party-List’s series of tweets, “the black shawl represents the darkness brought by the return of a Marcos in Malacañang and the proliferation of disinformation and historical distortion”. 

“Painted on the shawl is a teacher holding a hand sewn brooch of a torch representing the role of teachers to deliver truth and hope,” said ACT in a tweet. 

Meanwhile, another representative who donned a protest attire was Raoul Manuel of Kabataan Partylist. In a tweet, he said that he wore a Barong which he previously wore when he graduated summa cum laude. But, the then-plain Barong was enhanced by Albert Raqueño. 

Raqueño painted the Barong for 12 hours, using textile paint and acrylics. The Kabataan representative said his painted Barong symbolizes what they will work on including education, justice, and industrialization. 

Meanwhile, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte was also a scene-stealer at the Plenary Hall as she donned a Bagobo Tagabawa dress. The Bagobo Tagabawa tribe of Davao is one of the largest groups among the indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao. 

In a sea of lawmakers wearing butterfly-sleeved Filipiniana dresses inside the plenary hall, Duterte stood out as she sported the tribe dress. 

Meanwhile, at the upper chamber, Senator Imee Marcos was seen wearing a Royal Blue Filipiniana terno, with an image related to Agriculture, a government agency that his brother concurrently heads. 

The pattern on her Filipiniana ensemble showed a print that showcases “the Marcoses’ heart for Agriculture”. The terno and pants were custom-made by Edgar Buyan. 

However, the senator changed into a chic Pearl Gray “Karakol” sleeved terno, created by Jan Garcia, when she appeared before the plenary hall for her brother’s first state of the nation address.

Meanwhile, senators Nancy Binay and Risa Hontiveros donned locally-made ensembles. Hontiveros wore a traditional baro’t saya made from Aklan Piña fabric and hand-embroidered in Lumban, Laguna. She paired her ensemble with a hand-woven Tikog bag from Samar and a pair of Marikina-made heels. Her Filipiniana was designed by Joel Acebuche. 

Binay wore an Aklan-made all-piña fabric Filipiniana which was designed by Randy Ortiz. The front and back showed sampaguita cutouts made from piña fabric. 

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