On President Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), Vice President Leni Robredo may not have been physically present at Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, but her image was beamed across the country via Zoom, wearing a black dress with an araw brooch pinned to her chest.
Of course, it was President Duterte’s SONA speech that would dominate the headlines, however, for the ones with keen attention to detail, it was the several women lawmakers wearing an araw brooch that gave a story on its own. Leni Robredo, Vilma Santos, Ria Vergara, and Nikka Co were among the many women representatives wearing the brooch in their outfits during SONA.
The brooch soon made its way via social media attention. Esme Palaganas, on Instagram wrote, “Fashion IS political. And much like public service, it always needs to be future-looking than backward steps. We acknowledge the past, but every move should always be about moving forward, for the better. And how frivolous fashion might be, it represents something more. Choosing to buy from a Filipino brand makes a difference. You’re standing in support of the Filipino fashion ecosystem—from the Entrepreneurs, Designers to the Textile Makers.”
It was then revealed that the statement brooch is a project of the Philippine Fashion Coalition (PFC), a non-profit, business support organization with the aim of supporting fashion professionals and solidifying the Philippine Fashion Industry.
In an Instagram post by the organization, they detail: “This brooch is designed by a Filipino accessory brand that works with various Gawad Kalinga communities. Done in the coalition of dark blue, it reflects and represents the deep waters surrounding our thousands of Philippine islands. It symbolizes confidence despite challenges, profound wisdom, stability, and unity.”
The organization also shared that Indigenous Inabel fabric is incorporated into the traditional eight sun rays, like that of the Philippine flag, but the interpretation is a half-sun as symbolism to show that with collaboration, we become part of the story and history.
In times when we are driven by fear and a global pandemic, the fashion industry is compelled to slow down and challenge its traditional ways, to being more aware of the message they put across and to acknowledge its frivolity from the outside looking in. And because fashion is at a standstill, it is the time to unite and become allies to the Philippine Fashion Industry, to support these hardworking professionals as we rise above the challenges today brings.