The first time I saw an old black-and-white photo of my lola donning a white terno, I was totally smitten. She looked so regal, her chin up, her eyes looking down and her hair all coiffed. The photo was dated in the early 60s. I later found out that even as late as the 70s, Filipina women from all social classes still opted to wear the traditional Filipiniana terno.
But if there’s anything that gives the terno its distinct edge or uniqueness, it would probably its butterfly sleeves. The sleeves give off an aura of pedigree, pride, if not, snobbery. It gives edginess and sheer power to the dress, which gives emphasis on the shoulders. Even before the shoulder pads became a rave in the 80s, Filipinas, since the Spanish regime, have been wearing these over-sized sleeves to the delight of foreigners. It was constructed in order for the breeze to easily cool the shoulders of Filipinas. Of course, a good Spanish abanico was still another accent that helped in this cause.
Today, Independence Day, instead of donning those Lady Gaga like shoulders, try incorporating the terno’s iconic (thanks to Madame herself!) into one’s dress. Leslie Mobo, the London-based Filipino designer, has also featured the butterfly sleeves in one of his collections.
A Happy Independence Day to all Filipinos!