Samantha Panlilio wore a balangay-inspired gown at Miss Grand International 2021 preliminaries

Published December 3, 2021, 6:01 PM

by John Legaspi

She served a ‘reveal’ on the pageant stage

The Miss Grand International (MGI) fever is on again in the Philippines as the 2021 edition beauty pageant held its preliminary competition last Dec. 2, 2021. As usual, Filipinos are rallying online to cheer for the country’s representative, Samantha Panlilio.


The 25-year-old beauty queen wowed the MGI crowd with her passarella during the swimsuit segment. She also shined during the evening gown competition with the help of the creation of pageant dress design master Rian Fernandez.

A jump from the usual high slits and one-shoulder silhouette, Rian’s piece plays with spectacle while celebrating a piece of the country’s heritage. Dubbed “Layag Balangay,” the evening gown pays homage to “the seafaring vessel of the Philippines being the first wooden watercraft excavated in Southeast Asia.”

A sight full of sparkles, the dress features a sweetheart bodice, sheer elements, and is encrusted with Caribbean Blue opal rhinestones, glass beads, oversized Austrian Swarovski crystals. On top of it is a sculptural collar that hides a cape, which Samantha revealed onstage.

“This piece is a perfect way to reawaken Filipino pride in a forgotten heritage of the ancient Filipino ingenuity,” the designer says.

Watch her evening gown performance here: