Every year, I try to draw a national costume for our Miss Universe representative. I’ve done the jeepney, an homage to the People Power revolution, and the palaspas. This year, since the pageant is taking place in December, I thought, why not make Christmas as my theme? (As it happens, it will be in fact the theme for this year’s event.) And so, without any further ado, here’s Miss Philippines as a parol, lol:
Christmas is huuuge in the Philippines. Carols are heard in radio stations as early as September and decorations go up even before Halloween. It is only one of two countries (the other being Colombia), which holds a Simbang Gabi, a novena of nine Christmas dawn masses that start on December 16.
With all the Christmas sights and sounds that the Philippines has to offer, none perhaps is as ubiquitous as the parol. The lantern symbolizes the star of Bethlehem, which guided the Three Kings into finding the child Jesus. It can be as simple as a string of barbecue sticks wrapped in papel de hapon or as elaborate as the three-storey high ones that compete in the lantern festival in Pampanga. (My relatives in Canada made sure to bring some back home—of course, not the giant ones—when they vacationed here, and they became popular in the neighborhood!)
For my design, I figured that the idea behind the costume is heavily Christian, so I made sure that it would also reflect Mindanaoan culture. The pattern and silhouette are Maranao and I would have made this more colorful with an explosion of pink, maroon, and coral, but I opted to use black, brown, and gray in light of the recent calamity brought by typhoon Pablo.
The sleeves are exaggerated to resemble the latern’s ‘tails,’ and glitters of tiny Christmas stars complete the gown’s look.