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The Many Shades of Filipina

'The Universe Giveback'


By John Legaspi

Images by Noel Pabalate

American general Douglas MacArthur said, “Give me 10,000 Filipino soldiers and I shall conquer the world.” But what about 40 Filipinas in heels?

That’s what The Universe Gives Back charity fashion gala did, as Filipinas from all over the archipelago walked the runway to help address issues such as discrimination, bullying, stigma, and limited access to education.

The first benefit gala under the local brand of the Miss Universe Organization, Miss Universe Philippines in partnership with Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI), the event aims to propagate advocacies relating to women empowerment, the promotion of local tourism, and investing on philanthropic activities. Chaired by architect Richelle Singson-Michael, noted fashion designer Albert Andrada, and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, all of the event’s proceeds will be donated to help fund the future projects of Love Yourself, Inc. and Young Focus Philippines. With this year’s fashion gala, the Miss Universe Philippines tapped eight of the top fashion designers of the country to each creates a capsule collection playing on a particular hue, to be modeled by the candidates of Binibining Pilipinas 2019.


Pia’s time during the Miss Universe 2015 pageant opened doors for many Filipino designers to penetrate the international pageant stage. Her victory in the electric blue mermaid dress designed by Albert Andrada made a major shift, making the BPCI decide to opt for more locally-crafted dresses to showcase in the competition. “Before, Filipino designs weren’t used for our candidates. Now, after judging the 2018 Miss Universe pageant, I saw a lot of candidates from other countries wearing Filipino designers,” said Richelle.

“More than beauty, we want to inject a substance to style,” says Albert, who has helped make fashion a great tool to support such causes and for like institutions to ignite change. For the gala, the designers were tasked to use a particular color in creating their collection of dresses worthy of a crowning moment.

Here is a rundown on the evening’s noteworthy looks.

  • Think of a siren rising from the sea. Michael Leyva’s collection sent waves after waves of glimmering drapery worthy of a water goddess.
  • Lines and movements sealed the deal for Rhett Eala’s tasselled teal collection that fluttered and swayed around every Binibini on the passarella.
  • Bow down to the red queens of Cherry Veric serving baroque goodness through capes, lace, dainty appliqués.
  • Refreshing as a tall glass of lemonade, Ito Curata’s sunny yellow explosion was a perfect palate cleanser with its floral details and play on textures.
  • There’s definitely a  “silver linings” in Albert Andrada’s collection merging metallic with sunset and tropical tangerine.
  • It was a garden of delights for the Binibinis of Jot Losa in the shade of orchid. With corsets and sultry cuts, it’s definitely not a walk in the Garden of Eden.
  • Streamline and romantic was Avel Bacudio’s emerald collection raging with pops of skin and necklines on fire in his softly structured neoprene dresses.
  • Regal were these Binibinis in the ultraviolet. Martin Bautista’s creation played with the natural curves of the woman’s body, mixing structural with drapery and a touch of tassels and feathers for accent.


“We want to do this every year now,” Richelle announced. “For this year we focused on fashion. In the future, aside from the gala, we want to do other events for arts, some focusing on the contestants, perhaps down the road a reality show. It is really impactful when people really get to know the candidates well,” she added.


Tonight, we will witness a Filipina’s dream coming to reality as the 40 Binibinis will battle it out to win those coveted crowns and represent the Philippines in the international pageant stage. Six of them will be crowned as Miss Universe Philippines 2019, Bb. Pilipinas International 2019, Bb. Pilipinas Supranational 2019, Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2019, and Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2019.

“Representing your country, giving back to the community, and changing lives are what pageantry is all about,” said the reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray. “This is the heart of what every single woman on that stage does.”

And reminding them all was Pia who said, “You don’t need a title in order to help. If the universe can give back, so can you.”



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