A look back at memorable national costumes of Bb Pilipinas candidates

Drew Francisco
A look back at memorable national costumes of Bb Pilipinas candidates
From a pineapple-inspired dress to inspirations of a vinta, the national costume is one of the most anticipated events in pageants

NATIONAL COSTUMES. Pageant fans look forward to seeing the national costumes worn by Bb Pilipinas candidates. Photos from Miss Universe/Bb Pilipinas/Rob Reyes/Manman Dejeto/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines –  Mention “Philippine national costume” and the revered terno instantly comes to mind. In fact, it has been predominantly displayed by Bb Pilipinas queens in international pageants in the past years, especially in Miss Universe.

In 2001, Zorayda Ruth Andam‘s terno with a floral embroidered yellow-gold balloon skirt almost won the Best in National Costume award. Two years after, Carla Gay Balingit wore a beautiful pineapple-inspired dress. Both dresses were so iconic that they were reused, respectively, for the Miss International pageant by Kristine Reyes Alzar in 2002, and Precious Lara Quigaman in 2005.

MISS UNIVERSE 2001. Zorayda Ruth Andam, Miss Philippines 2001, holds the Hoya Crystal trophy for her 1st Runner Up finish at the Miss Universe 2001 costume show at the Luis A. Ferre Performing Arts Center in Santurce, Puerto Rico on May 2, 2001. File photo by Miss Darren Decker/Miss Universe Organization/HO / AFP



Aside from Maricar Balagtas’ Pintados-inspired ensemble (2004) and Janine Tugonon’s Maranao princess costume (2012), it was always the terno for the Philippine delegates from 2001 to 2014. And they were all created by Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza.




TRIBAL PRINCESS. Miss Philippines 2012 Janine Tugonon in her national costume at  the Miss Universe 2012 National Costume Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by the Miss Universe Organization


Filipino pageant fans had long decried this practice. However, it wasn’t until Mary  Jean Lastimosa’s costume at the Miss Universe pageant in Doral that it became a national issue, prompting Bb Pilipinas to have a change of heart.

FLORAL INSPIRATION. Mary Jean Lastimosa wears a creation of Alfredo Barraza at the Miss Universe 2014 National Costume Show at the FIU Arena, Doral, Miami. Photo by the Miss Universe Organization


Bb Pilipinas chair Stella Marquez Araneta said in a January 2015 interview that the main reason she had not used creations of Filipino designers was “because the designs that were given to us were not good enough for our candidates.” She clarified, however, that she was open to using creations by Filipinos.


Pinoy designers take charge

When Bb Pilipinas announced in 2015 that it would finally open its doors to Filipino designers, it was met with resounding cheers. After all, no one knows Philippine culture better than Filipinos themselves.

In fact, the only time the Philippines won the Best in National Costume award in Miss Universe was when the country hosted the pageant in 1994. Charlene Gonzales was a sight to behold in the Bagobo and Higanon-inspired ensemble by the late fashion icon Pitoy Moreno.


Ann Lorraine Colis  was the first to wear a Filipino-designed costume in Miss Globe in Canada in 2015. She displayed an Ibong Adarna-inspired terno designed by John Cliff. Cebu-based designer Philipp Tampus created Rogelie Catacutan’s costume for Miss Supranational in Poland, while Janicel Lubina looked like royalty in her Leo Almodal white terno for the Miss International pageant in Japan. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, for her Miss Universe stint in Las Vegas, wore a capiz terno by Albert Andrada.



WHITE ROYAL. Bb Pilipinas International 2015 Janicel Lubina wears Leo Almodal at the Miss International 2015 pageant in Japan. Screenshot from ustream.tv/mibp


PROUD CEBUANA. Bb Pilipinas Supranational 2015 Rogelie Catacutan wears a Philipp Tamppus creation at the Miss Supranational 2015 pageant in Poland. Photo from Facebook/Miss Supranational


CARNIVAL QUEEN. Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach in Albert Andrada  during the Miss Universe National Costume Show. Photo from the Miss Universe Organization


But the most notable that year was Parul Shah bagging the Best in National Costume award in Miss Grand International 2015 for her Muslim-inspired ensemble by Edwin Uy.

BEST COSTUME. Parul Shah models her Muslim-inspired costume by Edwin Uy at the Miss Grand International pageant in Thailand. Photo from Facebook/ Miss Grand International


This continued on with Kylie Verzosa’s Francis Libiran gold costume inspired by the San Agustin Church carvings for Miss International 2016, and Nelda Ibe’s Sampaguita-inspired dress by Frederick Berches for Miss Globe 2017.


MISS INTERNATIONAL 2016. Kylie Verzosa models her national costume by Francis Libiran. Screenshot from YouTube/Miss International

While the terno remained in the spotlight, other designers dared to be different. Joanna Eden wore an Ati-atihan inspired Patrick Isorena creation for the Miss Supranational 2016 pageant. The following year, Chanel Olive Thomas wore a Tboli inspired costume for the same contest.

DIFFERENT STYLE.  Joanna Eden's Ati-atihan inspired national costume by Patrick Isorena. Screenshot from YouTube/Miss Supranational


MINDANAO TRIBUTE. Chanel Olive Thomas in her Tboli-inspired national costume at the Miss Supranational 2017 pageant. Photo from Facebook/Miss Supranational



The last two Miss Universe Philippines titleholders also veered away from the usual Philippine terno. Maxine Medina showcased a vinta-inspired emerald green outfit by Rhett Eala with a headpiece adorned with South Sea pearls worth a million pesos. Rachel Peters, for her part, wore a Sarimanok-inspired fantasy costume by Val Taguba.

VINTA INSPIRATION. Miss Universe Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina in her national costume by Rhett Eala. Photo from the Miss Universe Organization


SARIMANOK. Miss Universe Philippines 2017 Rachel Peters wears a sarimanok-inspired costume by Val Taguba. Photo from the Miss Universe Organization


Perhaps one of the, if not the, most notable creations so far is the T’boli Princess ensemble of  Elizabeth Durado Clenci in Miss Grand International last year. Designed by Jearson Demavivas, the costume pays tribute to the indigenous tribe in Mindanao. It was also the same costume that won Best in National Costume in Bb Pilipinas 2011, when Clenci first joined the pageant.

MINDANAO TRIBUTE. Elizabeth Clenci in her Tboli inspired national costume at the Miss Grand International pageant. Photo from Facebook/Miss Grand International


The annual costume showcase

Clenci’s costume is a testament that Bb Pilipinas doesn’t have to look elsewhere for national costumes. The organization should instead capitalize on its National Costume competition, which has become an annual celebration of the country’s rich culture and heritage since it was brought back in 2011.

From 2013 to 2016, the Philippine terno earned the top award in the competition. Ma Teresita Alaine Baccay wore a bright yellow modern terno by Abbog Ocampo. Adorned with rice husk and sackcloth, the dress drew inspiration from Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary. Kris Tiffany Janson (2014) looked immaculate in her Cary Santiago all-white terno paired with a parasol. Meanwhile, Frederick Peralta scored back-to-back Best in National Costume honors for the dresses worn by Teresita Ssen Marquez (2015) and Angela Lauren Fernando (2016).

RICE INSPIRATION.  Ma Teresita Alaine Baccay in a bright yellow modern terno by Abbog Ocampo. File photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler


BEST OF 2016. Angela Fernando in her terno by Frederick Peralta. File photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler


BEAUTIFUL IN WHITE. Teresita Ssen 'Winwyn' Marquez in Frederick Peralta at the Bb Pilipinas National Costume Show in 2015. File photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler


CARY SANTIAGO. Bb Pilipinas Intercontinental 2014 Kris Tiffany Janson wears Cary Santiago during the Bb Pilipinas 2014 National Costume Show. File photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler


Designer Edwin Uy also won two Bb Pilipinas national costume awards. First was in 2012 for the tribal-inspired number worn by Nicole Schmitz. Last year, his Muslim-inspired gold and orange ensemble complete with an intricate headdress and matching fans for Chanel Olive Thomas stood out in a sea of ternos and fantasy costumes.

BEING DIFFERENT. Nicole Schmitz in Edwin Uy at the Bb Pilipinas 2012 National Costume Show. Photo from Facebook/Bb Pilipinas


CHANEL SHINES. Chanel Thomas wears Edwin Uy during the costume presentation. Photo from Facebook/Bb Pilipinas

Some non-winning costumes also worth noting include Ma Theresa Gorgonio’s eagle-themed metallic gray costume by Cary Santiago (2013); Ellore Noelle Punzalan’s Tausug-inspired cropped top and maxi skirt dress by Jontie Martinez (2014); Sirene Sutton’s asymmetric black gown with handpainted details by Roland Alzate (2017); and Charmaine Elima’s “La Reina Emperatriz” costume by Pablo Mendez (2017).

EAGLE INSPIRATION. Ma Theresa Gorgonio's eagle-themed metallic gray costume by Cary Santiago. File photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler


TAUSUG TRIBUTE. Ellore Noelle Punzalan in a Tausug-inspired cropped top and maxi skirt dress by Jontie Martinez. File photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler



MODERN. Sirene Sutton in an asymmetric, black gown with handpainted details by Roland Alzate. Photo from Facebooke/Bb Pilipinas


THE EMPRESS. Charmaine Elima in her 'La Reina Emperatriz' costume by Pablo Mendez. Photo from Facebook/Bb Pilipinas


The competition is definitely more than a just contest among candidates and their respective designers. The fashion showcase is proof that Filipino-designed costumes are more than enough for our queens. – Rappler.com


Drew Francisco creates charts and maps for a living. In his free time, he covers local and international pageants for Missosology.Org. 

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.