The 2023 MEGA Ball Art + Fashion: Highlights

A year after its comeback, the MEGA Ball goes beyond fashion in celebrating the Filipino voice in its creative and liberated form

After welcoming the birth of a new era in celebrating independence and nationalism from the year before, MEGA sets this chapter in motion with the intersection of visual and aesthetic expression and sartorial artistry—the MEGA Ball: Art + Fashion. 

Artworks from MEGA’s Emerging Artists were displayed in the main Rigodon Ballroom

The occasion emphasized freedom beyond the confines of fashion, which is what MEGA, the country’s best fashion magazine, has always stood for. Breaking the boundaries of its DNA, this year put visual artists in the spotlight. As MEGA Ball’s first co-chair Sheila Romero pointed out, “For ages, art and fashion—two distinct yet very interconnected fields—have often overlapped in various ways. They both involve creativity, self-expression, and aesthetics. Both are used as a form of expression by the artist and the designer.”

2023 MEGA Ball Co-Chair Sheila Romero

As we look back on this year’s Independence Day, we give you the ways the 2023 MEGA Ball married the past and present through art and fashion. 

Inspired edifice

Following this year’s theme, The Peninsula Manila was a sure choice for the occasion that celebrates art and fashion. Besides it being a Brutalist Gabriel Formoso creation, the five-star hotel also houses a ceiling masterpiece called the Sunburst by National Artist Napoleon Abueva. Guests paraded their creative formal ensembles as they ascended the parted marble staircase. 

Napoleon Abueva’s Sunburst ceiling sculpture at the Peninsula Manila

Transformed exhibition

The venue became a museum for one night as it housed the works of both established masters and emerging artists, making this a first in MEGA Ball history. At The Conservatory, pieces from Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Rodel Tapaya, Manny Garibay, Daniel Dela Cruz, John Santos III, Geraldine Javier, and MEGA Icon Awardee Ramon Orlina reminded the guests of the deeper purpose of the event and art in general—to transform society by shedding light on the struggles of ordinary Filipinos. 

MEGA Icon Awardees Manny Garibay, Mark Justiniani, Ramon Orlina, and Daniel Dela Cruz
Ramon Orlina’s exhibit at the Conservatory

While works of Nice Buenaventura, Jinggoy Buensuceso, and Lilianna Manahan welcomed the guests into the Rigodon Ballroom, the pieces of Demi Padua, Marc Aran Reyes, Ayka Go, Winna Go, Yeo Kaa, and Chelsea Theodossis were showcased inside the venue for the attendees’ perusal. 

Pieces by Lilianna Manahan
Works by Jinggoy Buensuceso

Honoring these artists whose works have gone beyond the country and the limits of art, they received tokens of appreciation from fellow creatives JEFRË and The Bear Cave Fluid Art Studio. 

Emerging artist awardees with Sheila Romero, Heart Evangelista, Peewee Reyes-Isidro, and Janine Recto

True to its purpose, the 2023 MEGA Ball is a modern celebration of what it means to be a Filipino. Starting with the program, renowned host Teresa Herrera led the guests to the event of the evening. 

Emphasizing music’s impact on our culture as well, the Leading Ladies of Philippine Theatre, Manila Symphony Orchestra, and the cast of Ang Huling El Bimbo serenaded the guests throughout the occasion with classical and contemporary tunes. 

The cast of Ang Huling El Bimbo serenading the attendees

Meanwhile, the full course meal was a classic combination of the country’s flavors that every Filipino appreciates. It started with with a selection of Spanish bread, ube pandesal, kalihim to satiate the guests. Following suit was the pomelo and kesong puti prawn salad. Guests also had the option to choose between chicken binakol, beef ‘bistek style’ fillet, and alapaap fillet escabeche. Wrapping up the meal was a selection of mini pastries—ending the dinner with a sweet, fulfilling Filipino experience. 

Concluding the occasion the best way possible was the singing of the National Anthem to honor what we truly celebrate for the night—Filipino pride, and MEGA Editor-in-Chief Peewee Reyes-Isidro said it best in her opening speech: “Now [in] its 13th year, the MEGA Ball continues its purpose—to celebrate Independence Day and put the spotlight on Filipino talent even beyond fashion. We often talk about how talented Filipinos are. Do we really need another reminder? Absolutely.” 

MEGA EIC Peewee Reyes-Isidro

Indeed, the 2023 MEGA Ball proves that Filipino art and fashion are just two of the facets where Filipino craftsmanship is immortalized, and this new era of purposeful collaboration is just getting started.

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