Michael Barassi has outdone himself yet again with his intricately designed national costume for Binibini Ilocos Sur Nicole Guerrero.
In an Instagram post, Nicole Guerrero claims that the design brief is inspired by the Filipino folk song “Magtanim ay ‘di Biro” (“Planting Rice is No Joke”). Furthermore, she says that the design is her tribute to the hardworking Filipino farmer.
The voluminous half-petticoat is made up of buri. Buri is a textile material native to Nicole Guerrero’s hometown, San Juan, Ilocos Sur.
In case you aren’t familiar with buri, it is a material used to create woven bags or what Filipinos know as bayong. These woven bags are used by harvesters to carry farm produce.
While not generally visible in the photos released by Binibining Pilipininas in their Facebook page, the skirt has prop carabao heads. Farmers often require the aid of carabaos or domesticated water buffalo to plow through the field. For Nicole, this is her ode to the industry of the animal who also happens to be the country’s national animal.
The costume also bears Cordilleran embellishments to celebrate the grand Banaue Rice Terraces that has been famous around the world. It’s so famous that the terraces is featured in one of the scenes at the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Nicole writes that the costume is a marriage of culture both old and new. It is also a strong representation of a strong Filipina.
For the Ilocos Sur rep, the Filipina is someone who is “guided by the values and principles of the past, empowered to battle the challenge of the present, and ambitious enough to look forward for a better future.”