Philippines :: That national costume conundrum yet again


That national costume conundrum yet again


It’s a horrible thing to insult ones culture but it is even horrific to have a foreigner to take a jab at it. That what’s the great Colombia designer Alfredo Barrazza is doing to the Filipino culture, whose name interestingly rhymes with a common word that both a Colombian and a Filipino would understand – basura.

Yes, the whole Filipino nation is upset about the national costume of Mary Jean Lastimosa at Miss Universe. The well-revered Filipiniana terno was turned into some Goldilocks cake, all-in, dedication optional. Or as some netizens would point out – a classic Selecta three in one ice cream.

It was a horrible joke made against the quintessential symbol of being a Filipino. The choice of colors was tacky at best. The cut was a mismatch. The whole flowery stuff in the hair is more of Ukrainian thing. Terrible! An absolute travesty to our culture.



Mary Jean Lastimosa (left)

Basura, este, Barazza has been poking around the Filipino culture a lot quite lately. Ariella Arida for example has to wear that feather thingy that is more Colombian than anything else. Maricar Balagtas has to suffer the enormous embarrassment for her incoherent costume. Pamela Bianca Manalo had to carry around in what appears to be recycled plastics curled into flowers by Girl Scouts.

Why do we need a Colombian couturier to design our national costume anyway? Maybe, just maybe, it is because the BPCI no longer trusts its in-house designers including the great Pitoy Moreno whose latest attempts in designing our national costumes include Janine’s okay-ish Marano costume and Jennifer Barrientos’ butterfly-ridden pink costume in 2008, which was a flop by the way.



Zorayda Andam

But the greatest argument against a Colombian designing our national costume is that no one knows our culture better than us. And we are lagging behind our ASEAN neighbors wherein their national costumes are so well-thought. Thailand even has a national contest to select the very best national costume design. Not even the fact that Zorayda Ruth Andam almost bagged the award for her floral-embroidered terno could sway us not to think that some foreigner was, and still is, toying around with our culture.

Miss Universe is a competition of nations. Sure, national costumes have no bearing at all whatsoever to the overall outcome of the contest. But it’s our national costume – a symbol of our nation, our heritage, our pride and our identity. It is just right and proper that we should have pride in it. And obviously, you don’t want someone to mess with it let a lone a foreigner.


  1. I am really against Alfredo Basura but it is he who made Maricar Balagtas’ pintados costume?! I consider that the best costume ever! Why Basura made unfavorable costumes lately?

  2. bakit kailangan Columbian designer pa ang gagawa… we have lots of international Filipino designers…. quality at elegant pa ang pagkakagawa….. Bb. Pilipinas pls… not next time….

  3. well as much as you do not like alferdo costume mind you Philippines is the second to rank in most national costumes won behind Colombia which has the most national costumes won in the history of Miss Universe. So lets not insult a Colombian designer because if both the countries he helps has the most overall national wins than he is doing something right. Plus both of his girls Colombia and Philippines are the in the top to win this year. So let not insult him. I am a fellow Colombian and I love MJ. Phillipines in the last 5 years has been in the top 5 which is remarkable and Colombia from 1992-1994 she was the first runner up. So I believe either of these two countires should win because they have came close.

    • the philippines has only won best in national costume once-in 1994, and that was not bazura designed. in 2001 it won 2nd to korea. thailand, panama, brazil, peru, india, korea, japan have won best in natcos more than twice, so how can philippines be 2nd to colombia in the best in national costume?!?

  4. why filipino pageant directors would ask a non-filipino designer to make their national costume, first of all he’ll need some time to understand their culture, prominent colours used, the spirit the symbolism….maybe it was Alfredo Barrazza interpretation of what he understood of fillipino culture

  5. In fairness to Madame Stella & Barraza, would it help to let you guys know that this national costume is not altogether un-Filipino. My mom & her sister had a costume like this (flowers & all) when they were young during an all-Filipino folkdance program of their school. A captured moment of them together in a colorized photo is in one of our old albums. The choice of colors in their outfits were very similar to that of MJ’s but more in the lighter shade not sugary bright. When I asked my mom what specific folkdance they showcased in that school program, she said she can’t remember but she said it was Spanish inspired but definitely Filipino. Didn’t MJ danced one Spanish inspired Filipino folkdance during the Binibining Pilipinas preliminaries? MJ is of Spanish blood so I guess this natcos befits her.

  6. I am a Filipino, but I don’t consider it a problem if a Colombian designs a Filipino terno in an international competition. Picture the world as one globalized community. Race and pride have separated us from each other truly. It is not good. Same thing, if a talented Filipino cotourier designs a Japanese kimono with talent and taste, what is the problem?

    • If people aren’t happy with his work…then he should be changed – It’ s a simple as that! Barrazza has had plenty of opportunities to meddle with a cultural element he clearly doesn’t quite understand. Let him step aside and let a local talent do the work. Filipinos, you have to stand up for yourselves. Why is nothing being done about this at the roots level? why aren’t people protesting – and why doesn’t the contestant have her say in all of this?

    • I don’t either. But to prefer a Colombian designer to a local one, that means something. Filipino designers are very creative and talented so why do you have to look for someone who is an ocean away?

  7. I think the issue is not the design of the NatCo of MJ or Alfredo Barazza himself, but it’s more of the honor and pride of showcasing a Filipino art that should be created by no less than a Filipino. MJ is wearing the Philippine sash and it feels wrong to have a national costume being done by a foreigner. It’s more acceptable to see a despicable creation for as long as it’s being made by a local designer than to see a fabulous one conceived by another nationality. Art is in our blood and if you look around, we have so many talented designers and I’ve seen a lot of phenomenal costumes (check the famous festivals like Sinulog, Ati-Atihan, etc.) created by both famous & ordinary Filipino designers. Maybe BPCI & Madam Stella Araneta have to exert more effort to engage the local talents since this pageant is of great social interest.

    Going back to MJ’s NatCo, aesthetically it’s all wrong. However, it’s also wrong to say that it doesn’t reflect our culture in any way. Our land is abound with different kinds of flowers and we have a flower festival in Baguio to support that. But then again, MJ’s NatCo’s aesthetic value just drop way below the ground and the designer is an easy target for the hate which happens to be a foreigner. BPCI should really think twice or thrice next time before getting a foreigner to dress our representatives to international pageants now that this has caught the public eye.

  8. I live in Canada, but I also like Miss Philippines’ costume. I am surprised that many Filipinos (?) do not like her costume.
    However, I like Miss Canada’s costume the most, because it truly represents our country. Miss Canada used all things related to hockey and made them parts of her costume – complete with hockey sticks, scoreboard, net (used as her veil), and hockey trophy (used as her crown) – very creative.

  9. and to add salt to injury, this senile stella said that filipino designs are not that good enough! fyi stella the bazura made white gown of mj is just a poor cheap copy of filipino leo almodal’s designs!

  10. In Focus:: Philippines’ National Costume-National Disaster.
    Eye for an Eye
    Whoever wrote the article “In Focus::PR, that we know is Filipino(a), is getting paid and in a big way. At leas Miss PR looks fab in that article but Mary Jean looks like a cake ready for the Miss Universe show after party. Eye for an Eye. I never heard that Philippines are well known by cake makers but I know they are wizards in manicure. What a shame for the Philippines’ Queen.