THE Catholic Church in Cebu did not give its consent for Binibining Pilipinas candidate Joy Dacoron to use the vestments of the Sr. Sto. Niño as her national costume for the pageant.

This was revealed by Bishop Ruben Labajo, the auxiliary bishop of Cebu, in a statement on May 17, 2023, adding that neither the Order of St. Augustine (OSA) friars nor the Archdiocese of Cebu was informed that Dacoron would use the likeness of the vestments in her photoshoot.

OSA is the Catholic mendicant order that runs the Basilica Minore del Sto Niño de Cebu, which houses the Holy image of the Sto. Niño.

Labajo said they did, however, agree for Dacoron to take a photo at the Pilgrim Center right outside the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, which was what Dacoron referred to in her post thanking the church officials.

“Ang pananghid ni Joy nga magpa kodak siya diin ang background mao ang mga simbahan dinhi sa Sugbo,” a portion of his statement on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 reads.

(Joy’s request was to have her photo taken with one of the churches as her background.)

In a separate statement, Fe Mantuhac-Barino, chairperson of the Commission on the Laity of the Archdiocese of Cebu, asked for respect for culture and religion.

“Ang creativity kinahanglan ubanan sab unta ug lamdag gikan sa Espiritu Santo aron mogawas ang tinood nga ‘beauty of God’s creation,’” she added.

(Creativity should also be accompanied by light from the Holy Spirit so that the true beauty of God’s creation will emerge.)

The Binibining Pilipinas pageant has since deleted the photo of the national costume, which had drawn flak from the public, from its official Facebook page.

A Facebook user commented, “Balaan man tawon ni oy. Nganong i-damay-damay man ni sa pageant?”

(This is Holy. Why would you wear this to a pageant?)

Regal Oliva, head of the Mandaue City Treasurer’s Office and president of the Cebu Lady Lawyers Association, thought the costume was used in poor taste.

“This looks like a cheap rehash of the image venerated by millions of Cebuanos. And you better be prepared for a tsunami of hate posts when you release the pictures,” Oliva said on Wednesday, May 17.

“Art is art. Yes, we get it. But if we have to make art, we put our best foot forward. This is not the best,” she added.

Dacoron, who is from Balamban town in southwestern Cebu, is a professional volleybelle who plays for Cignal HD Spikers. She has not yet addressed the issue as of this writing.

She is competing in this year’s edition of Binibining Pilipinas as she tries to pull off a back-to-back win from last year’s winner, Cebuana beauty Nicole Borromeo.

There will be a total of 40 candidates representing different cities and towns in the country that will compete in the pageant’s coronation night on May 28 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.