MANILA, Philippines - Politicians and celebrities were at their absolute best in President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's first State of the Nation Address (SONA) held Monday at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
Jinkee Pacquiao, for one, stood out in a pink terno loaded with crystals and beads, which was designed by Pepsi Herrera.
The wife of boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao shared that she had 2 gowns specially made in preparation for this historic event.
"Siyempre kauna-unahang SONA ko ito. Talagang pinaghandaan ko siya," she said.
Also pretty in pink is former model Audrey Tan-Zubiri, wife of Sen. Miguel Zubiri. She wore a simple terno designed by Inno Sotto.
The one-piece terno (Spanish term for "matching") is a popular choice among Filipino women for formal events and state occasions.
The outfit used to be composed of 3 items -- a blouse, a long skirt and a shawl. (Read more about the terno here.)
Fashion designer John Herrera particularly commended celebrity mom-turned-congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez for her choice of outfit in this year's SONA.
The blue terno with embellishments created by Randy Ortiz, he observed, was perfect for the occasion. It also brought out the natural beauty of Gomez, who is also the wife of actor Richard Gomez.
"I like the slight embellishment that is, again, very welcome sa mga events tulad ng SONA, he said.
Gomez, for her part, said she really made an effort to look her best at the first SONA she attended as a lawmaker.
"You have to be dressed appropriately out of respect for the occasion. It's part of history. You don't want to be captured as part of history looking shabby," she said.
Nice, but inappropriate
Two political figures -- former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Sen. Pia Cayetano -- looked chic in black and white numbers during the SONA.
But unlike Cayetano's modern terno, Baraquel's hand-painted tapis (a single piece of cloth worn as a garment) was "too fashionable," making it inappropriate for the occasion, Herrera said.
"Though it was very fashionable and she carried it very well, it was too fashionable for SONA. I fear it was too fashionable," he explained.
Also donning Filipiniana attire with a modern touch during the SONA is Sen. Loren Legarda.
She was seen in an off-shoulder baro (blouse) matched with an orange and purple saya (skirt).
The outfit may look nice, but according to Herrera, it doesn't suit the senator.
"First of all, it was cut at the waist, or below the waist, which is not flattering kasi nahahati 'yung figure mo sa gitna," he said.
The price of fashion
A terno is usually priced at P20,000 to P35,000 each, according to well-known local designer Oskar Peralta. Depending on the designer and the materials used, the amount can go as high as P50,000.
The same goes for the Barong Tagalog (embroidered men's upper garment, usually made of pineapple leaf fibers). Peralta said each costs about P12,000.
It may seem that all those in attendance at this year's SONA paid a huge price for their outfits. Assunta de Rossi-Ledesma, however, believes that one doesn't need to spend a lot for something that will only be worn once.
The wife of Negros Occidental Rep. Jules Ledesma revealed that she got her canary yellow terno accented with artificial flowers from her designer for free.
"Hindi naman talaga dapat pagkagastusan ang kasuotan na isang beses lang isusuot...Dahil ang daming pwedeng pagtuunan ng pansin, at gamitan ng pera," she said.
Meanwhile, militant groups showed off their creativity through their outfits -- from hand-painted accessories to customized Barongs.
Of course, all these made a statement. Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino's outfit, for one, was embroidered with the words "Stop the Killings in the Philippines."
"We want to show it (our statement) off through fashion. Because just like any art, fashion should have a strong message," Casino said.
This year's SONA, indeed, may be considered one of the country's biggest fashion events this year. So, who's your favorite? -- Report from Marie Lozano, ABS-CBN News