Catriona Gray's National Costume Displayed at the NHCP Museum

Treated like a national treasure, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s National Costume is on display at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines museum in ermita, Manila. Her Natkonal costume depicted the culture and artistic traditiona of the three major island groups of the Philippines namely Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Catriona Gray, Miss Philippines 2018 on stage during the National Costume Show, an international tradition where contestants display an authentic costume of choice that best represents the culture of their home country, on December 10th at Nongnooch Pattaya International Convention Exhibition (NICE). 

When she walked on stage with her giant parol propped on a wheeled stand, she got everyone’s attention thanks to months of waiting in patient anticipation of what Gray and her team has prepared for the pageant. Several times she hinted that her National Costume follows the theme of “Buong Pilipinas” and has a Christmas touch on it.

After releasing her “This is Luzon” video, netizens speculated that the parol, a recurring prop in the video, must be a huge part of the national costume.

Aside from the giant parol, what other details are on her National Costume? For that, we talked to the men behind the artistry of such an intricate piece of national costume.

Catriona Gray’s national costume took months of planning. According to designer Jearson Demavivas, they made sure that the costume reflects authentic Filipino culture.

Design Architect Carlos Buendia Jr., one of the major force behind the national costume, calls the piece, “LuzViMinda: Magdiwang. Lumaban. Pagyamanin”

Luzon – Magdiwang: Parol made in Floridablanca Pampanga

Luzon: Magdiwang (“Celebrate”)

The huge parol piece is the most noticeable element of Gray’s National Costume mainly due to its size but mostly due to its usage of the colors of the Philippine flag.

According to Buendia, the island group of Luzon is represented by the Christmas lantern or “parol” and thus the “Magdiwang” theme.

The gargantuan parol is heavy because of its aluminum border. Designed and made in Floridablanca, Pampanga home of the Pinukpuk (“aluminum”), the Parol symbolizes Filipino’s devotion for religion. The aluminum border is inspired by the architecture of Philippine Baroque churches, declared as UNESCO Heritage sites.

Luzon – Magdiwang: Mural made by University of Santo Tomas Graduate Students

In contrast to the parol that featured Philippine color, a more detailed backside of the detachable piece is a painting that, according to Buendia, “highlighted festivals, events, heroes and national icons with a style inspired by the works of Philippine National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, a native of the Art Capital of the Philippines: Angono, Rizal in Luzon.”

Baybayin translating to a few lines of Lupang Hinirang.

In its border is the Philippine National Anthem written in Baybayin or the ancient Filipino alphabet that translates to:

“Lupang hinirang, duyan ka ng magiting

Sa manlulupig di ka pasisiil.

Sa dagat at bundok,

Sa simoy at sa langit mong bughaw.”

Visayas: Lumaban (“Fight”)

The Visayan island group is represented by a “Pintados” body suit that has authentic tattoo designs. These designs are embellished with crystals to form a cohesive pattern from body paintings of the “Pintados”. The Pintados is a group of indigenous people found mainly in Samar and Leyte.

Gray pays tribute to the resilient and unwavering Filipino spirit through this Pintados body suit. She recalled the deadly typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines) as it ravaged through the island province of Samar and Leyte taking with it hundreds of lives and properties.

The tattoo patterns reflected in the body suit is carefully researched by Demavivas and rest of Gray’s creative team. They are based from a 1590 “Boxer Codex” manuscript. The tattoos represent a Filipino’s journey. According to Buendia, they are proof of a person’s countless “acts of combat, bravery, and strength that perfectly encourages the courageous and resilient Filipino spirit amidst trials.”

Well-researched tattoo designs in Catriona Gray’s National Costume

The iconic “Visayan Pintados” of the Boxer Codex on 1595 is just one of the very few surviving documentations of early Filipino tattoos.  The Boxer Codex also known as the Manila Manuscript written from 1595 contains illustrations of ethnic groups in the Philippines at the time of their initial contact with the Spaniards

The illustration of the Visayan Pintados depict two heavily-tattooed men with tattoo patterns that share similarities to Polynesian, Micronesian and Austronesian tattoos. Some believe that the floral patterns were based on early chinese pottery that the Filipino natives acquired through trading.

Some patterns also shared some similarities to Ilocano weaving. It is also debated as to whether the two illustrations depicted the same man in different poses.

Mindanao: Pagyamanin (“Enrich”)

The detailed knee-high boots custom made by shoe designer Jojo Bragais represents Mindanao. The boots is embroidered with designs inspired from various indigenous textile patterns from tribes residing in the Mindanao island group. The textile patterns with which Bragais incorporated in his design are from the B’laan, Bagobo, Inaul, Maranao, T’nalak, Tausug ang Yakan.

According to Bragais, “the woven textiles express a strong belief in ‘ancestral and natural spirits’ and ‘cultural roots’ of well-preserved indigenous communities.

Aside from the well-crafted boots, Gray’s headpiece and brass accessories is her love letter to the Mindanaons. They are from the province of South Cotabato. The headpiece is distinctively a T’boli accessory.

The Choreography

Catriona Gray’s national costume presentation is choreographed by Buendia himself. The hand gestures are called, “Pagbati,” as taught by the Palaw’an Ethno-Linguistic Group of the Philippines

According to Buendia, the Pagbati is “a hand gesture done by the Babaylan (Priestess) at the beginning and ending of any ritual.”

“It is a means of passing good energy to one another,” shares Buendia. “It literally means, ‘let’s unite in will and in spirit.”

The Design Team

Vision Artist – Carlos Buendia Jr.: He is an artist, dancer, thespian and architect. He has been a major creative force in the Philippine art industry.

Mural Artists – UST Graduate Painters: They are Fine Arts major who are experienced in painting.

Gold Brass Border – Mak Tumang: Mak Tumang is a couture brand that creates custom-made designs for clients worldwide. He has been designing gown designs for Filipino representatives.

Pintados Bodysuit – Jearson Demavivas: Jearson Demavivas is the designer behind Catriona Gray’s National Costume for Binibining Pilipinas 2018 National Costume Competition.

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