Growing up as a young Filipina, there was not a single Disney Princess that looked like me.
But I always found something I could relate to in each of them – qualities, morals, and values that I could find myself in even with my brown skin. Disney always made me feel like a Princess not because I looked like one, but because I was taught to dream like one. And though Disney always got the inside covered, I have always wondered about the outside – what would a Filipina Disney Princess look like?
Today we celebrate Philippine Independence Day. And I’ve decided to answer this question by combining what I’ve related to most in these beautiful characters with both Disney Princesses’ and Filipino style.
The princess of all princesses. Cinderella was the first Disney Princess character I ever looked up to. She had a quiet strength about her, and sang, danced, and acted exactly as I thought a Princess should. She taught me to dream and believe in the impossible.
That’s why I chose this modern take on the Maria Clara gown, whose character this dress was named after represents delicacy and femininity – something both she and Cinderella have in common.
I’m ready for my kalesa now. Also, Disney points if you find all the hidden Mickeys.
Romance and Music
There is no hopeless romantic quite like Aurora. And we Filipinos are definitely big romantics too. Music has always been our best form of expression when it comes to matters of the heart (just like Aurora and Prince Phillip who basically fell in love in the span of one song). We’ve got kundimans, haranas, and OPM (Original Pinoy Music) that would make any Princess swoon. Not to mention, every Filipino family has at least one excellent singer.
This is my glittery Disney take on our traditional Terno. And yes, those are pink pearl Mickeys on the ears.
Strength and Love for Family
Mulan’s protectiveness of her father and her willingness to do anything to save him still tugs my heartstrings. Filipinos are very family-centered people. Even our simplest Sunday gatherings greatly resemble Mulan’s ancestors’ meeting. We’ve got titas and lolas who would gladly make all the Shangs in the world stay
for dinner forever . And as a daughter and a sister, I would do what Mulan did for any member of my family in a heartbeat.
Mulan’s a fighter, and fighters need a good pair of pants. So I thought this outfit inspired by our Ifugao costume was perfect for her. See if you can spot the beads inspired by their headpiece!
Passion and Adventure
If there’s one thing Belle has taught me, it’s that it’s more than okay to always seek more out of life. And as much as we love our stories of old, we must always write our own. Belle has always inspired me to make travel and adventure my greatest teachers, and experiences my greatest lessons.
If live-action Belle has her earcuff, we’ve got this one – inspired by our very own Princess and Miss Universe, Catriona Gray. And yes, I put it on my Minnie ear instead of my real one.
Also how perfect are these horses? Meet Felipe everyone.
Hard Work and Love for Food
As Filipinos, we appreciate the value of hard and honest work. But one of my favorite things about being a Filipino is knowing that the greatest reward for hard work, is good food. And boy do we have plenty of it. Tiana’s beignets are amazing, but there’s nothing quite like our suman, bibingka, palitaw, and yes – even our “dirty” ice cream.
This gold blazer with hints of green is a great tribute to Tiana’s outfit. And this gold necklace is the perfect Filipino version of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras beads.
Happiness and Gratitude
Rapunzel or Punzie is my girl. She loves arts and crafts, she loves sewing, she loves music, and she loves filling her day with all of these things and more. Basically, she loves life. She knows how to be grateful for everything she has – something we’re taught at a very early age. And Filipinos are such a happy, positive bunch. No matter what life throws at us, come hell or quite literally high water, we still smile and say how great it is to be alive.
That’s why I wanted this outfit to be full of color and happiness. Just like Punzie, and just like Filipinos. (Except with a pamaypay because heat)
Love for Country and Love for People
What hit me most about live action Jasmine was her love for her people, and her genuine desire to see them happy. Like Jasmine, I feel like there is still so much more to explore in my country, so much beauty left to see, so many more of my people to help. And one of my three wishes would be to see my beloved Philippines prosper.
That’s why I think this shirt with the Philippine map on it was so fitting for Jasmine. Because as wonderful as seeing a whole new world is, nothing really beats Home.
Celebrating my heritage and culture through Disney Style, and expressing it through different Disney Princess-inspired looks has been a wonderful magic bangka ride. It has reminded me to find inspiration in everything, especially in myself.
At the end of the day, it isn’t about the color of your skin, the clothes you wear, or the language you speak. It’s about that common belief in goodness, and in magic. That’s what makes you a Disney Princess.
So wherever you’re from, and wherever you are, you’ve got your own brand of pixie dust right in your heart. Stay magical, and stay you.
“First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare.” – Walt Disney
Photography: Christine Day Lorico
Outfits: designed and styled by me
Ears: designed and made by me