A vision of Philippine Heritage and contemporary fashion, sixteen-year-old Diwa ng Kalayaan 2019 Sarah Isabel Borja-Slauson, a native of Cagayan de Oro City turned heads in the recently held Philippine Independence Day Council’s Gala Ball in Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe, New Jersey.

The recently crowned Slauson was a vision among the attendees of the prestigious event in her Ifugao Doll Dress, made and designed by Philippine award-winning designer, Tracy Dizon.

Photo by: Ben Ahhi and Sonam Dekar-Ahhi of Beso La Studio, Brooklyn • Make-Up by: Stacey Stephenson • Hair by: Nicole Simmons

“I’ve admired Ms. Tracy’s collection since its debut and it’s such an honor to have worn one of her pieces to the Philippine Independence Day Council’s Gala Ball. It was truly an honor to wear Ms. Tracy’s Ifugao dress because it wasn’t only cute and comfortable, it was also a great way to popularize and modernize the Filipiniana,” said Slauson.

Tracy Dizon together with Diwa ng Kalayaan 2019 Muse Sarah Slauson both wearing her modern and quirky Terno from her Fashion Week Brooklyn SS2019 Pinoy Pop Life Collection in New York! Photo by: Ben Ahhi and Sonam Dekar-Ahhi of Beso La Studio, Brooklyn • Make-Up by: Stacey Stephenson • Hair by: Nicole Simmons

“I realized that as the Diwa ng Kalayaan, I would like to promote Philippine heritage among my fellow young Filipinos. I am only 16 years old and sometimes doing something traditional can make me feel a little out of place. But our traditions doesn’t have to stay in the past as there are so many ways to incorporate them in our lives. I wanted to represent that during the ball with Ms. Dizon’s piece,” she added.

courtesy of Imelda Macababayao

Slauson, then 15, was crowned as Diwa ng Kalayaan last May 2019 as part yearly gala commemorating of the Philippine Independence in the East Tri-State Area. A native of Cagayan de Oro, she’s currently based in New York in pursuit of a career in modeling while continuing high school.

courtesy of Imelda Macababayao

Although she spent her childhood between Philippines and America, Slauson stayed true to her roots thanks to the guidance of her mother, Imelda Cuerquiz Borja, a Bae or female leader of a tribe in Bukidnon. Borja ensured that even if her daughter is in the U.S., she will not forget her heritage.

It was her passion to know more about the Filipino community that pushed her to join the event and it was through that same passion that she was able to win over the judges and the audience.

Now that she has the title, she intends on using it as a platform to promote advocacies dear to heart, which includes better healthcare and benefits for senior citizen, support for the country’s indigenous people, awareness for autism and promote Filipino Heritage to the youth.

by Imelda Macababayao

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