‘What is a national costume?’: Discussions after Celeste Cortesi dons ‘Darna’ NatCos

January 15, 2023 - 4:29 PM
Celeste Cortesi, Miss Universe Philippines 2022 on stage during the 71st MISS UNIVERSE® National Costume Show at the New Orleans Ernst N. Morial Convention Center on January 11th, 2023. (Miss Universe Organization/Benjamin Askinas)

The national costume is not just limited to the Baro’t Saya.

A group called Philippine Social Conservative Movement expressed this sentiment in a post on January 12, following the national costume show of the 71st Miss Universe pageant.

In the post on January 12, the movement made emphasis on the diversity of Filipino cultures that beauty queens can choose to represent in pageantry.

“Just to let you know, the national costume of the Philippines is not limited alone to the Baro’t Saya. The Philippines is an archipelago composed of different islands and diverse cultural traditions,” the group said.

“It is a shame and embarrassment to our national heritage if you limit your vocabulary of National Costume to a single cultural group,” it added.

The post also has artwork of cartoon characters that offered a supposed representation of some indigenous groups of the country.

It is made by an artist named Cloud Chien Mendoza.

The post later garnered 15,000 reactions, 514 comments and 7,900 reactions on the platform.

It also received different reactions from local online users.

Philippines’ Celeste Cortesi wore a stunning version of the Filipino superheroine “Darna” for the competition.

READ: ‘Fierce against injustice’: Celeste Cortesi brings Darna to Miss Universe stage 

Some Filipinos defended the Philippines’ choice of inspiration for the national costume show.

“You should also listen to how Darna was introduced in the NatCos round and how she depicts who a Filipino is. The NatCos competition has evolved through the years unless there’s a strict criterion to follow. But observing how each country chooses its NatCos, I believe there is no specific rule as to what to wear in the NatCos competition,” a Facebook user said.

“Someone used tikbalang and ibon adarna as an influence for a national costume. What makes Darna any different? Maybe we just feel bad as it wasn’t as bongga as the rest,” another commented.

Journalist Timothy James Dimacali, meanwhile, criticized the group’s view on indigenous peoples’ attires and cultures.

“While OP (original poster) may purport to be advocating Filipino tradition, I dare say they’re doing exactly the opposite: their post is predicated on the premise that traditional garb (and, by extension, the culture that uses it) is unchanging, fixed in time, and incapable of evolution, adaptability, and agency,” Dimacali said.

“OP is out of touch not just with pop culture but also with the very cultures that they purport to defend,” he added.

Celeste still stunned audiences with her “Darna” ensemble during the national costume show and her overall performances at the preliminary competition of Miss Universe.

RELATED: Celeste Cortesi dons sky blue gown referencing name at Miss Universe prelims 

Her pageant journey, however, ended early after she failed to advance to the Top 16 during the coronation night.

Celeste also broke the 12-year streak of the Philippines in the semifinals of Miss Universe.

Filipino-American R’Bonney Gabriel of USA clinched the 71st Miss Universe crown on January 15 (Manila time).

RELATED: Who is Miss Universe 2022 Filipino-American Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel? ‘For Pinoy pride’: Pinoys rally behind USA’s R’Bonney Gabriel at Miss Universe 2022