The fashion show at the opening of joint session of Congress whenever the Philippine president gives his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) is now institutionalized. Come typhoon or earthquake, come fire or highwater, it is established, worked at and anticipated. We just must admit it fits into our national persona – the color, the participatory parade, the exhibition of manifold and munificent ensembles and styles (not to say costumes so as to give it the proper level of respect and dignity) for the public to note and comment on.
I used to be the killjoy, a bad fairy chanting negatives about how uncalled for was a fashion show at the solemnity of the beginning of the legislative year when the executive explains what has been done and what needs to be done on national perspective. And how the fashion parade was bringing in too much entertainment and levity, a distraction and diversion while the public watched in disgust, or was it wonder? It was wonder, entertainment, a fiesta.
It just cannot be done away with when it is so anticipated and so entertaining. The appearance of individual ladies as legislators, wives of legislators, members of the Cabinet, the staff of all branches of government, is now and has been part and parcel of the beginning of legislative work. Note that the male members of the government in whatever level, as well as the diplomatic corps and religious leaders, participate with their own fashion statements.
We have fashion shows and fashion shows in this country, but I would say by weight, by color, by plurality and by eager anticipation followed by many surprises, the opening of Congress in the Philippines precipitates the biggest and most anticipated fashion show of the year.
So, I give up being the bad fairy and will sit back to enjoy the fashion event yearly by taking a positive outlook. The fashions on parade have veered towards Philippine celebratory clothes. It is good for Philippine indigenous fabrics made in all parts of this country usually by women in rural areas painstakingly preparing, designing and weaving these textiles from indigenous materials. It thus preserves traditional crafts, empowers women in rural areas by giving them an income as well as revives interest in our arts and crafts.
We have seen how more and more of the outfits displayed in this yearly spectacle are made with native fabrics and imaginatively designed and executed. It is good for the weavers and good for the many designers, mostly young and upcoming, who make a leap forward when asked to design a dress or a barong or coat for the opening of Congress.
We will ignore the occasional fashion mishap on this day as a mere statistical formality because there are a multitude of creative, successful and admirable fashion styles that overwhelm any fashion error which will surely be rectified come next year.
It is just so Pinoy to enjoy the moment and exult in a show of ingenuity and color. Even in the darkest days of grim political demonstrations there was always the use of costume and color to deliver the message, entertain the public and have fun. Philippine mythical characters and Philippine historical figures would be presented dressed and bedecked with the proper accoutrements. Even effigies can be artistic.
Indeed, public spectacle is part of our public life. I give up being a bad fairy on this.