MANILA, Philippines–They may laugh at her dress—but do they know she is promoting the local fabric industry?
That was Sen. Nancy Binay’s response to netizens who criticized what she wore at the Senate and during President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) before a joint session of Congress on Monday.
The eldest daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday laughed off the disparaging comments about the gown she wore, preferring to see the bright side of a glitzy political event that had guests parading in their Filipiniana finery.
Binay said the commissioning of outfits by Sona guests at least gave a boost to the local fabric industry and the designers who had crafted their creations made of handwoven piña, jusi and T’nalak fabric (T’boli cloth).
“In fairness, it’s one way of pushing our designers and our local fabric industry. It’s job-generating. Piña has become popular so this could be a source of livelihood,” she said in a phone interview.
Good for seamstresses
Binay also said the red carpet parade could help promote Philippine fabrics, and these could even gain a following abroad.
She noted that Thai silk had become a hot commodity and the Philippine fabrics could become just as popular.
Binay also said that while some people might make an issue of how much a terno costs, making just one outfit could help many seamstresses, fabric weavers and dressmakers earn a decent sum.
Referring to the yellow and green skirt panels on the dress Binay wore to the Senate session, one Facebook user wrote: “Tell her the World Cup is over and that Brazil lost. Time to return its flag.”
Binay’s afternoon gown, a white number by designer Randy Ortiz, was mocked for its draped bodice and serpentine skirt. One netizen compared its voluminous side folds to “the satin lining of a coffin.”
Hot air balloon
Many Sona guests arrived in elaborate or intricate Filipiniana outfits to listen to President Aquino lay down his political agenda.
In recent years, much attention has been given to what legislators and other prominent guests wore at the Sona, and some of those who came, such as Binay, did not escape the scathing comments of Internet users and fashion critics.
Many netizens poked fun at her top and skirt during the Senate session, which they likened to a hot air balloon or an ice bag. Her white gown during the Sona also received its fair share of criticism.
Binay said she was not bothered by the critics and that she remained supportive of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s earlier call for less focus on the bling during the Sona.
Santiago herself wants an official uniform for members of Congress attending the Sona.
Days before the President’s address, Binay said she backed Santiago’s call for those attending the Sona to dress simply and for a review of the dress code for the affair.
Binay stressed that she was not supporting Santiago’s call because she had been criticized for her Sona day outfits. According to her, she takes the criticism in stride.
Red carpet walk
“I don’t want to appear I’m pushing this because I was bashed,” she said. “They can bash me all the time. I just have to respect their opinion if they don’t like what I’m wearing. I’ve also received comments saying they like what I wore.”
She said that in order to lessen the focus on the Sona fashion and bring back the attention to the real purpose of the event, she supported the idea that the red carpet walk be done away with.
“At least, we won’t have to walk for quite a distance … In a way, that’s a bit awkward because we’re not models,” she said.
Red carpets line the main entrances to the Batasang Pambansa during the day of the Sona, and many guests walk down the carpet to parade before photographers and members of the media.