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The Philippines is a free woman

By MARGIE MORAN FLOIRENDO, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 19, 2024 5:00 am Updated Jun 19, 2024 9:45 pm

Influenced by the belief in babaylan, we personified our nation as Inang Bayan. Although it comes with different interpretations and depictions, rendered by various artists, Inang Bayan has always symbolized the nurturing power and strength of its people. 

Embodying the empowering nature of our patriotism, Inang Bayan has taught us that we should treat our kababayan as our brother and sister—the very concept of kapatiran that the Katipunan abided by during the Spanish regime. 

When the revolution broke out in 1896, the brave Filipino revolutionaries fought with so much love for Inang Bayan. Their unadulterated love for their country made them sacrifice their lives to free Inang Bayan from her oppressors. 

This is something every Filipino should remember and commemorate: the sacrifice of our heroes and the love for our country.

From the bottom left are Amor Albano (Ilocos), Abdul Gaffar (a Maranao from Iligan), Ariella Arida (Luzon), Maria Gigante (Visayas), Shaira Ventura (Mindanao) and Bree Esplanada (Cebu) at Manila Hotel.

Remembering Patriotism

During the 126th celebration of the Declaration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 2024, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. urged the Filipino people to continue to immortalize the essence of the country’s independence. 

In his speech during the grand celebration held at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park, he highlighted the enduring spirit of freedom among ordinary Filipinos who overcome daily challenges.

“While the times may be different, our struggles remain the same,” said the President. “We continue to witness the true spirit of freedom in every Filipino who fights fairly in their day-to-day lives.”

For the grand parade, Inang Bayan made her appearance, along with 22 other beautifully decorated floats from different provinces and national government agencies.

Some of the floats depicted the different historical milestones such as the Cry of Candon, Ilocos Sur; the Tres de Abril Revolt in Cebu; the Battle of Alapan, where the first unfurling of the Philippine flag and Proclamation of Independence happened; the establishment of the Comite Central Filipino; the Cinco de Noviembre Revolt and establishment of the Negros Republic; the Cry of Santa Barbara and the establishment of the Federal State of the Visayas, Iloilo; the first flag-hoisting in Mindanao; the siege of Fort Pilar, Zamboanga; the lowering of the Spanish Flag in Jolo, Sulu; the end of the Siege of Baler; and the establishment of the Malolos Congress and the first Philippine Republic.

Celebrating culture and freedom

As the highlight of the parade, the Inang Bayan float symbolized the flame of revolution for the independence of the Philippines.

Designed by visual artist Diego Imao, who is the son of known artist Toym Imao and grandson of National Artist Abdulmari Imao, the Inang Bayan glided from the CCP Complex to Roxas Boulevard to the Burnham Green across the Quirino Grandstand. This was made possible through the effort of Gawad CCP Awardee Gino Gonzales and the production staff of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

With a light design by CCP Trustee Monino Duque, the float represented Inang Bayan herself and carried her children—Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao—personified by three beauties, namely Miss Universe Philippines 2013 Ariella Arida, Universal Woman 2024 Maria Gigante, and model Shaira Ventura, who is based in Zamboanga.

LuzViMinda models dazzled with their Philippine ternos designed by Ternocon fashion designers Amor Albano, Bree Esplanada, and Abdul Gaffar. The ternos were rendered in the colors of the Philippine flag, and they reflected their respective regions.

Amor Albano accentuated Arida’s inherent Filipina appeal with her terno design made of shredded chiffon. Hailing from the Ilocos region, sought-after fashion designer Albano received the Joe Salazar Award at the third edition of Ternocon, a project co-presented by Bench and CCP. She has designed for several celebrities and influencers in the country, such as Miss Universe 1999 First Runner Up Miriam Quiambao, Miss Charm 2023 Krishna Gravidez, Iza Calzado, and Michelle Dee. Albano was a finalist in the third season of Project Runway Philippines.

The Inang Bayan float is called “Habilinang,” a combination of the words “habi” — to weave, “habilin” — to hand down, and “linang” — to cultivate. It is designed by the winner of the Independence Day Float Competition, Diego Imao.The float is made up of four dominant figures: Inang Bayan and three faces representing her daughters Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao — bearing a message of nationhood, our independence, and the lengths the Filipino people have gone to defend them. The wavelike patterns change colors to represent our green lands and mountains, our blue skies and our seas and waters, and the fire of the revolution for our independence. The large boat — the karakoa—rides the waves of our history and the many challenges we have had to confront as a nation. Design consultant is Gino Gonzales; lighting designer is Monino Duque.

Bree Esplanada, a multi-awarded Filipino fashion designer and the official designer of Miss Asia Pacific New Zealand since 2019, dressed Miss Universal Woman 2024 Maria Gigante in a stunning Balintawak and equally exquisite headpiece by Cholo Ayuyao. Also a finalist in the Ternocon3 in 2023, Esplanada placed among the top 10 finalists in the in the Air Asia Young Designers Competition in 2017, the British Council’s Look of Style Awards in 2012, and the Cebu Young Designers Competition in 2011. Esplanada is Anthill Fabric Gallery’s apparel designer. 

Model Ventura wore Gaffar’s terno made of inaul material from Cotabato. The design adhered to the idea of modest fashion with the inclusion of a hijab and long sleeves beneath the butterfly sleeves. The Muslim Maranao designer attended Slim’s Fashion and Arts School, where he became part of various projects like the school’s annual exhibit and the first Bench Terno ball in 2015. Gaffar, under the mentorship of fashion designer Mark Lewis Higgins, was part of the production team of Ballet Philippines’s Firebird. Recent works include the garment featured on the cover of Vogue Philippines’ April 2024 issue.

The Philippine Independence Day celebration might have ended after the fireworks and performance of a P-pop girl group, but our love for Inang Bayan should live on.

With our love and patriotism, we will always fight for our Inang Bayan.