The Elegant Filipina
Elegance…Merriam Webster defines it as “refined grace or dignified propriety; tasteful richness of design or ornamentation; retrained beauty of style.” The Cambridge Dictionary writes “graceful and attractive in appearance or behavior.”
When the idea of such a presentation came up as defined by Webster, I was hesitant to pursue it. I was shying away from my socialite years, and I worked hard at reinventing myself by completing two master degrees and progressing to another doctorate degree.
After thinking about being what’s best and concentrating on dresses, we—Tina Ocampo, Chit Lijauco, Fortune Ledesma and later Zelda Kienle—all thought elegance is more than the physical. It embraces appropriateness resounding in good breeding. With elegance no one can miss being best dressers. In fact, elegance can be an instinct.
The physical… clothes on racks are aplenty but to select them according to the time, place and occasion is tedious. That is why less style and ornaments on the body is preferred. Less means more. Writing about less, it should not be difficult for a woman to know the pitch of her voice for her purpose can be irritating.
Therefore her tone of voice should be soft and not abrupt neither her words to cause a loud attraction. Less noise of footsteps is elegant. Exposing less of the body leaves more for anyone’s imagination.
I was with a very elderly Muslim princess from Maguindanao who had never married and was attended by two ladies-in-waiting in a Sultan Kudarat municipality. With her tiny frame, she walked into the gym where a wedding was taking place and caught the attention of everyone without shouting. Her gracefulness was slow and fluid. Head high, she sat straight, very regal. Everyone came to show their affections and respect to Bai kissing her hand or cheeks. She was royalty distinct and humble.
Humility is elegance. Determination is elegance.
In Boan, Tawi-Tawi I met a maybe 80-year-old woman. I had to guess her age, births and deaths being unregistered in Moroland.
The sarong she wears daily was beautifully wrapped around her waist. She spoke to me about prayers to attract men. Our interpreter was entertained and so were we – Peachie Prieto and me. She was serious about her incarnations performed during bathing time. Her secrets would lead to being one wife and not one of four. She sat shoulders back never leaning on the tree behind her. Elegant. She spoke softly, smiling, and sharing her knowledge, with chants and rhyming prayers as her long hair blew with the wind.
In South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi, a seer, standing five feet and seven inches and weighs 130 pounds and dressed in black, spread out her arms pointing her fingers upward like birds flying as she was dancing the pangalay slowly, flirtatiously, and inviting. Her eyes pierced through us. She was haunting and elegant.
You’ll know elegance when you see it. Remember didn’t I say elegance is an instinct? It’s also yours to develop.