I’ve always liked dressing up appropriately for the occasion, but there’s something about a Philippine-inspired dress code that really gets me thinking outside the box.
Perhaps it’s my frustration over more than ten years of basic costumes for Buwan ng Wika, or perhaps it’s the one way of expressing my patriotism, or it could be both, for all I know. Point being, when the occasion calls for it, I have a perfectly valid reason to get a little creative, and heck if I don’t run away with the chance.
Since school is over and long gone are my Buwan ng Wika misopportunities, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu has provided me with the perfect outlet to live out my dress up dreams. Independencia is their annual culinary journey to celebrate Philippine freedom, and while themes have varied over the years, one thing has remained consistent: the dress code.
That’s not to say I’ve been consistent—some years, I’ve just been too darn lazy or busy to go full glow up, but those outfits turned out to be some of my favorite interpretations. In 2015, for A Tribute to National Heroes, I phoned it in with a navy blue skirt, a red top, and paired with my then-blonde hair, I called myself the Philippine flag. The following year, I put on a red-and-white checkered polo, carried a toy gun, and dubbed myself then newly-elected President Duterte. Both times, I may not necessarily have won the coveted best dressed award, but I got laughs from Director of Sales and Marketing Lara Scarrow, and that was more important to me. Also, the boxes of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s famed ensaimadas, because let’s be real.
Contrary to people who are keen on keeping it with tradition, I’ve always been interested in a modern take of Filipino attire: Staying true to the spirit of the ensemble, but evolved to suit the contemporary Filipino woman. In 2013, I stuck butterfly sleeves to a little black dress and paired it with pants. Last year, it was a men’s barong tagalog, with skirt-pants from By Tatah.
This year, having only given four days’ notice, I was privileged to be dressed up by Hanz Coquilla, who fitted me with a Barong Tagalog with bowtie sleeves. It was the perfect mix of traditional and modern, which I really loved. This, I accessorized with one of my favorite pieces: the Three Stars and a Sun headdress, DIYed by Antonio Java.
The DIY headdress is made of a headband, cable ties cut to resemble the rays of the sun in the Philippine flag, and plastic takeout containers for the stars. Everything was spray-painted in gold. The idea was inspired by Aquaman actress Amber Heard, who wore a $32 cable tie headdress at this year’s Met Gala. Anton himself cosplayed went as a Katipunero, and our sheer extraness earned us more ensaimada (most of my share went to Gryffin, who wasn’t able to join us and complete the Platform triumvirate). I can’t, however, for the life of me remember if I made Ms. Lara laugh. At least I hope I didn’t poke her with one of the zip ties.
Of course, the star of Independencia is the food, and I’m unabashed in admitting this year just might be my most favorite one so far. The buffet featured distinctive cuisines of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, giving me a taste of the familiar, while introducing me to new flavors.
It’s also the first time the hotel, out of sheer coincidence, has an all-Filipino culinary team, led by Chef Juanito Abangan. Together, they also introduced Marco Polo’s latest offering, the adobo pie.
While Culinary Journey: Independencia runs until tonight at Cafè Marco’s dinner buffet spread, their signature dish adobo, as well as the new adobo pie, are permanent fixtures on the menu. Make your reservations now!
Meanwhile, I have an entire year to plot out ways to make Ms. Lara laugh again.
Marco Polo Plaza Cebu
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