Unlike evening gown, the beauty of a national costume is twofold: aesthetics and meaning.
It is therefore imperative that we judge a national costume not just by color and theatrics but at the very meaning of its fabric. This is the standard by which I see the national costumes for this year’s Binibining Pilipinas. It is also by this standard that I see Binibining Pasig Aya Abesamis’ National costume as the clear standout amid a bevy of beautifully-made, well thought-out costumes this year.
Just a quick look at Aya’s costume already takes us to a storied journey in the South. The design is not just a careless juxtaposition of fabric and face paint. It is an execution that expresses grandeur in its every detail.
Her national costume is a nod to the Yakan weavers of Basilan. Their hometown in Lamitan holds a colorful culture that is beyond mainstream attention. In fact the women of Yakan are described to be the best weavers in the Philippines nay the entire Southeast Asia.
Aside from weaving Yakans are known for their agricultural practices growing upland rice.
Even the movement by which Andre Abesamis so carefully rehearsed depicted in careful accuracy the gestures and the foot work of Yakan folks.
Her “Pansak si Laley” (Sayaw sa Plato; Dance on Plate) routine is a homage paid to the Yakan.
Oh and have I mentioned that designer Amir Ali, the prince of beads, is one of Mindanao’s legendary artists?