Solons sport stunning SONA outfits sans attires with political message

A dress code was in order, banning any attire with political messages, for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA). But this did not stop the Makabayan bloc and other lawmakers from flaunting their outfits.

(From left to right) House Speaker Martin Romualdez, ACT Rep. France Castro, Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos, and Pangasinan Rep. Toff de Venecia (Photos from Marcos via Instagram and offices of Romualdez, Castro, and Venecia)

Hours before Marcos’ address, the House of Representatives opened the first regular session of the 19th Congress with a limited invited audience of 1,365 people.

Presidential son Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander "Sandro" Marcos and newly installed House Speaker Martin Romualdez wore the traditional embroidered barong.

Marcos had on a classic half-open barong while Romualdez wore the button-down version.

Celebrity fashion designer Avel Bacudio designed Romualdez's barong, as well as that of the First Family -- from President Marcos, Rep. Marcos to First Lady Liza Marcos.

The embroidery on the first barong showed images of the window of the centuries-old Palo Cathedral in Leyte, which held a “very significant place in the heart of Romualdez and his fellow Leyteños” because the cathedral grounds hosts a gravesite for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez and Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos (Photo from Marcos’ Instagram account)

“The window design symbolizes the opening of new opportunities for Filipinos and the entire country under the new Marcos administration,” a statement from Romualdez’s office said.

He changed into another barong for the President’s SONA.

Also designed by Bacudio, the second barong featured the famous Balangiga bells, which were returned by the United States to the Philippines in 2018.

While most congressmen donned the traditional barong tagalog, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. France Castro and Gabriela Women's Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas still used fashion to amplify their party-list group’s advocacies in this year’s SONA.

Photos shared by ACT’s office showed Castro’s attire featuring a teacher holding a torch symbolizing light amid the darkness. Her outfit also had a handsewn and hand-painted shawl created by ACT volunteer Roja Castillo.

(From left to right) Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel, ACT Rep. France Castro, and Gabriela Women's Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas (Makabayan photo)

The black shawl represents the “darkness brought by the return of a Marcos in Malacañang and the proliferation of disinformation and historical distortion,” a statement from ACT said.

Painted on the shawl is a teacher holding a hand sewn brooch of a torch representing the role of teachers to deliver truth and hope.

For Brosas, she chose to wear a Filipiniana attire whose design was hand painted by activist-artist Michael Joselo.

She said the design symbolized the Filipino women's struggle against rising prices of oil, food, and other basic goods.

Meanwhile, Barangay Health Workers (BHW) Party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co was seen wearing a reused barong designed by fashion designer Paul Cabral.

BHW Party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co (Photo from Co’s office)

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel wore another piece by Albert Raqueño, a BA Visual Communication student of UP Diliman.

The barong Tagalog showcased a pair of clasped hands to symbolize a genuine national unity for justice (the left hand) and social progress (the right hand). The hands transformed into a phoenix at the back of the barong to symbolize the never-ending rebirth of generational struggle towards genuine social change.

Pangasinan 4th District Rep. Christopher "Toff" de Venecia also donned a customized barong with paintings on the front.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda had his hands on his face as he reacted to an event in the Plenary Hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex. He wore a button-down barong tagalog.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda (Photo from Salceda’s Facebook page)

Actor, athlete, and now Leyte 4th District Rep. Richard Gomez was one of the few who wore a classic Western coat and tie. He wore a dark suit with a light blue shirt and red tie.

Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez (RTVM screenshot)