NQC, NHCP Recognize Philippine Airlines, PH Embassy in Bangkok

Posted on 04 February 2019
By NQC Admin

NHCP Chairperson Rene Escalante presenting to the audience an illustration from the Boxer Codex, the basis of the body suit design of 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray during the national costume competition of the pageant. NHCP/JOVAN SORIANO

The National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) acknowledge the generous support extended by Philippine Airlines in flying in to Manila the national costume of 2018 Miss Universe Catriona M. Gray and its Philippine History-inspired Pampanga lantern.  The national costume made it in time for the launching last 21 December 2018 of the commemoration in 2021 of the Victory at Mactan and related events.  The event took place in NHCP Building, Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila at 10 a.m.

The same acknowledgment is accorded to the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok for collecting the ensemble from Catriona herself, days before her Miss Universe victory and coronation.

Catriona surprised NQC Vice-Chairperson and NHCP Chairperson Dr. Rene Escalante in featuring in her national costume the batik (tattoo) motifs of Visayan warriors and rulers during the time of Lapulapu.  The designs are basically inspired by the illustration on the two tattooed Visayan warriors shown in the Boxer Codex (ca. 1590).  The said codex contains pages of the earliest known illustrations to our ancestors.  It is currently owned by The Lilly Library, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.  It was named after its previous owner, maritime scholar Charles R. Boxer, who in 1947, serendipitously purchased the manuscript from Lord Ilchester’s Library at Holland House.

Our Visayan ancestors are described in the Boxer Codex as (using the translation from Vibal edition of the codex):

…accustomed to paint their bodies with some very elegant tattoos. They do this with iron or brass rods, the points of which are heated on fire. They have artisans who are adept at this. They do this with such order, symmetry, and coordination that they elicit admiration from those who see them. These are done in the manner of illuminations, painting all parts of the body, such as chest, the stomach, legs, arms, shoulders, hands, and muscles, and among some, the posteriors.

For the NQC, Jearson Demavivas’s design of Catriona’s national costume would undoubtedly be educational, with the country gearing up in its preparations to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan.  Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the Magellan-Elcano expedition, which reached the Visayas in 1521, described the Visayans as a ‘tattooed people.’  The batik motifs served as decorations for courageous warriors who emerged victorious in battles.  Historian Vicente Villan indicated that the batik also served as protection of the dungan (an individual’s spirit that kept the kaladua [soul] healthy and guarded it from evil elements) in ancient Visayan society.  When Christianity became the dominant religion in the Visayas, the use of batik was discouraged, and its spiritual values was transmuted to sacred articles like the rosary, scapular and anting-anting (amulets); while the armed forces transformed the batik into medals.

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