Being not only a global beauty pageant but also a celebration of inclusion, individuality, and cultural diversity, the Miss Universe competition has truly evolved through the years.
And one of its most awaited portions is the showcase of the candidate’s national costumes that never failed to mesmerize us and even blow our minds.
Of course, our Filipina bets never let our country be left behind in this showdown as they have always lit up the stage with their own versions of our country’s varied traditional outfits that left the world spellbound. From Miss Universe 1994 Best in Costume awardee to this year’s representative Beatrice Luigi Gomez, who astounded us with her over-all performance in the recently-concluded pageant – our delegates’ national costumes have consistently fascinated us through the costumes they donned.
In this gallery, let’s revisit how some of the Filipina beauty queens presented the beauty and rich and colorful culture of the Philippines, either through an exquisite Filipiniana gown or an avant-garde ensemble in their respective stints.
Binibining Pilipinas-turned-Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach wore a white capiz terno gown designed by Albert Andrada, paired with a studded headpiece and a stylish fan. Meanwhile, Bb. Pilipinas winner and eventual Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray stayed true to her promise of bringing the whole nation with her to the contest by incorporating the culture and trademarks of various ethnic tribes and provinces across the archipelago in her ensemble that was complemented by the enormous and vibrant lantern that she brought onstage.
The Miss Universe Philippines bets who competed in the previous years sashayed in their elegant terno gowns of various style, design, and color, such as Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Maria Venus Raj, Miss Universe 2011 3rd runner-up Shamcey Supsup, Miss Universe 2013 3rd runner-up Ariella Arida, and Miss Universe 2014 Top 10 semi-finalist Mary Jean Lastimosa.
Getting out of the terno and Maria Clara trend, Janine Miss Universe 2012 1st runner-up Janine Tugonon sashayed in the Maranao-inspired costume also created by acclaimed designer Pitoy Moreno.
On the other hand, Charlene Gonzales (1994), Miriam Quiambao (1999), Maxine Medina (2016), Rachel Peters (2017), Gazini Ganados (2019), and Rabiya Mateo (2020) all exerted extra efforts in their costumes as they opted to veer away from the usual Filipiniana frocks.
Philippines snagged its first-ever Best in National costume trophy from the Miss Universe through the T’Boli-Manobo costume worn by Charlene Gonzales in 1994. It was designed by Fashion Czar of Asia and National Artist Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, which, according to him, was inspired by the traditional attires of the Bagobo and Higanon tribes and made up of the same materials they use.
In 1999, Miriam Quiambao impressed us with her national costume, which seemingly symbolized the costumes usually worn by performers in Philippine festivals. It featured butterfly sleeves made up of bejeweled wires and a voluminous skirt plumed with ostrich feathers, paired with a fan-shaped crystal headdress and a golden palaspas or palm bouquet.
Maxine Medina in 2016 indeed shone in a Rhett Eala creation that drew inspiration from the colorful sailboat of Muslim called vinta, coral reefs, and opulent pearls usually found in the South Sea of Mindanao. Her one-of-a-kind headdress and enormous earrings indeed complemented her floor-length, shimmering, gold gown.
The following year, Rachel Peters wowed the audience in her gold sarimanok-inspired ensemble created by fashion designer Val Taguba, which was paired by gladiator heels designed by shoemaker Jojo Bragais.
Meanwhile, the hardwork, cleverness, and teamwork poured by Gazini Ganados’ team onto her sparkling silver Philippine eagle-inspired outfit, which was creatively crafted by designer Cary Santiago, indeed paid off as she brought home the national costume award during that time.
Last year, Rabiya Mateo indeed enthralled us when she stepped out of the stage in the Philippine flag-inspired piece designed by late Dubai-based Filipino designer Rocky Gathercole. The ensemble was comprised of enormous angel-like wings at the back, glittery applique bodice, and mismatched high-heeled sandals, adorned with three yellow stars placed at the center of her bodice and wings.
And in 70th Miss Universe, our bet Beatrice Luigi Gomez wowed in her elaborate national costume inspired by the final form of the Pinoy mythical creature “Bakunawa” or golden lunar dragon, which was engineered by Filipino fashion designers Axel Que of Cebu City and Manny Halasan of Bulacan.
So, Kapamilya, whose national costume is your most favorite?