A would-be beauty queen is under fire tonight after her “patriotic” costume sparked a massive backlash.

Joy Dacoron, from Cebu Province in the Philippines based her outfit for the “national costume” round on the Santo Nino de Cebu, a 500-year-old religious icon said to represent the Child Jesus.

Joy, 27, asked designer Chino Ledesma Christopherson to create her an ensemble for the Binibining Pilipinas 2023 competition.

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The outfit bears a striking resemblance to the vestments of the Santo Nino de Cebu, a significant Christian artefact given to Rajah Humabon by the Spaniard Conquistador Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.

And it's drawn harsh criticism from the religious community.

Many citizens were apparently stunned at how much the outfit, featuring a red cape, crown, sceptre, and globe, resembles the iconic imagery associated with the artefact.

And the religious community also expressed concerns over the costume, highlighting the sensitivity of mixing religious symbolism into a beauty pageant context.

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A picture of Joy wearing the controversial costume was at one point shared on the pageant's Facebook page but it has since been removed, according to local media.

Joy herself shared the photoshoot images on her social media accounts, explaining on Instagram that the costume represents the unwavering faith of Filipinos and pays homage to Cebu's icon.

The beauty queen wrote: "When I lost my father to an accident last year, I questioned God: 'Why Lord?'

"The Santo Nino paved the way for me to shed my doubts and made me realize that everything happens for a reason. In gratitude, I am sharing this faith on the national stage.

"Thus, with pride and deep respect for our heritage, I wear this costume that signifies faith and gratefulness. Viva Pit Senyor!"

The Augustinian friars of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino de Cebu, who serve as caretakers of the sacred icon, said in a statement: "As Cebuano Catholics, the Sto. Nino has a profound religious and cultural importance to us.

"Let us approach and treat the Sto. Nino with reverence and respect in order to avoid conflict and misunderstanding."

Joy claimed she had permission from the Archdiocese of Cebu for the photoshoot.

But Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Ruben Labajo clarified that they only granted permission to use churches as backgrounds, unaware of the costume's resemblance to the Holy Child's vestments.

Fe Mantuhac-Barino, chairperson of the Commission on Laity for the Archdiocese of Cebu, said that creativity should be guided by the Holy Spirit.

However, she added that "it is important to respect culture and religion."

The 40 candidates competing for the prestigious beauty titles will showcase their outfits at a fashion show before moving on to the grand coronation.

The crowning of the 59th edition of Binibining Pilipinas, hosted by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, will take place in Quezon City on 28th May.

The winners of the pageant will represent the Philippines in international beauty competitions, such as Miss Universe, Miss International, and Miss Supranational.


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