In the most recent 'Binibining Pilipinas' competition, a contestant named Joy Dacoron wore a Sto. Niño attire is in their national costume category. Due to this incident, the Sto. Niño controversy arose, and various people voiced their disagreements about how it was handled in a beauty pageant.
Controversy Over Sto. Niño Costume
On Tuesday, May 16, the official Facebook page for the pageant issued a list of the national costumes that each of this year's contestants would be wearing. Preview.ph reported Joy Dacoron, the delegate for the province of Cebu, was one of these people. She wore a set of crimson and gold vestments resembling the Santo Niño de Cebu picture. Chino Ledesma Christopherson's design for the costume, which was covered in a scarlet cape decorated with gold filigree, took direct influence from the Santo Niño de Cebu, which is the earliest Christian treasure in the Philippines and was given to Rajah Humabon in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan.
Joy sported a golden crown and held a scepter, just as she did in the first depiction of her, while also carrying an orb. As mentioned, many internet users left remarks on the 'Binibining Pilipinas' Facebook page calling the contestant's costume "blasphemous." As a result, the page administrator decided to remove the particular post in question. Despite this, Joy must still remove her photographs of herself wearing the costume from various social media sites.
The Stance of Church Leaders
According to a report from the ABS-CBN News, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Cebu Archdiocese, Ruben Labajo, divulged the information that the candidate had requested authorization but merely to film using the church buildings as a background. However, Dacoron reportedly failed to mention that the formal garments would be a source of inspiration for her outfit. "I didn't have any idea that she would promote the vestment of Sto. Niño as national costume and even more, the Augustinian priests do not know about this," the bishop noted.
Additionally, Fe Mantuhac-Barino, chairperson of the Commission on the Laity in the Archdiocese of Cebu, stated that there is a requirement for respect to be shown for culture and religion. He also asserted that to appreciate every aspect of God's creation, and one must combine their creative efforts with the introspection afforded by the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, Rappler reported that based on the spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cebu, Monsignor Joseph Tan, it was not necessary for the Dacoron team to obtain authorization to utilize the garments of the Santo Niño or the Child Jesus as a costume for the competition. "The Church was not consulted that she would wear that for her national costume… but the Binibining Pilipinas does not have to ask for permission, especially regarding how they conduct their affairs ordinarily," Tan asserted.
Furthermore, the Augustinian Friars of the Basilica Minore Del Santo Niño de Cebu urged the general public to consider the "appropriateness" of their activities. Since they are Catholics from Cebu, the Sto Niño is significant in their religious and cultural lives. In order to prevent contention and misunderstanding, they remarked that they should approach and treat the Sto. Niño with reverence and respect. The use of sacred robes as a costume for a beauty competition was reportedly deemed "insensitive" by several Internet users, who believed the decision was solely to generate controversy. Regal Oliva, an advocate for LGBTQ+ individuals and the head of the Cebu Lady Lawyers Association Incorporated wrote in a Facebook post that the outfit was a "cheap rehash" of the picture that millions of Cebuano Catholics revered.