"Why I Wore a Filipiniana on Mt. Everest"
Bianca Lawas is a licensed real estate broker. When she’s not jumping out of airplanes, summiting mountains, or diving with dolphins, she’s selling properties and managing properties on AirBnb.
Recently, her photo of herself wearing a red Filipiniana while raising the Philippine flag at the base camp of Mt. Everest went viral. She talked to Esquire Philippines about why she did it.
“Sometimes I really like to dress up in places that I find inspiring and amazing,” says Lawas.
Dressing Up: Bianca Lawas poses for a photo while free-diving wearing a Maria Clara gown and holding the Philippine flag
“Since reaching Mt. Everest Base Camp is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I decided to dress up for the occasion. In mountains outside the country, hikers usually wave the Philippine flag when they reach the summits, so I decided it is better to wave the Philippine flag while wearing the Filipiniana gown!”
According to Lawas, she conceptualized the gown’s design, and a local designer executed her ideas.
Behind the Scenes: Bianca Lawas uses a malong to cover herself while changing into her red Filipiniana
“I had the gown made with the lightest materials,” reveals Lawas. “Its not even more than half a kilogram – it’s most probably about 300 grams, more or less,” said Lawas.
The gown’s construction was intentionally made light so that it would be easy to carry to Mt. Everest.
Bianca Lawas on the Everest Region Trekking Route Prior to Reaching Base Camp
“We are provided with porters wherein we can only let them carry 15 kilograms per person,” shares Lawas. Porters are people who help you carry luggage to Mt. Everest. “My whole baggage including my gown is not more than 12 kilograms, so I let the porter carry my gown.”
Bianca Lawas in Filipiniana and Waving the Philippine Flag on Mt. Everest Base Camp
“When I reached Everest Base Camp and had some pictures with our group and solo pictures in my hiking attire, I just changed into my Filipiniana gown with the use of a malong and help from my friends. After getting dressed up, I looked for a nice spot to take my picture which is a place where the Khumbu Icefall of Mt. Everest can be seen and had my friend take pictures of me in the Filipiniana gown.”
Asked about her other challenging adventures, she tells the story of how she trekked a treacherous mountain in the Philippines at night.
“There’s a lot of interesting adventures that I’ve had. This Everest Base Camp Trek for sure is one of them. Another is trekking the Knife Edge of Mt. Guiting Guiting at night. There are probably some more interesting adventures that I plan to take on in the future.”
According to Lawas, she climbed various mountains in the Philippines and around the world to prepare for her Mt. Everest climb. The mountains she conquered include Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia, which is the highest peak in Southeast Asia, and Mt. Fuji in Japan. In the Philippines, she climbed Mt. Apo, Mt. Tapulao, Mt. Halcon, and Mt. Guiting-Guiting.
“I also did some long maximum inclination walks on the treadmill and had some gym sessions with my personal trainers,” shares Lawas.
Lawas tells Esquire Philippines that she did not attempt to summit Mt. Everest. “We did not go to the summit. We were just there to reach the Base Camp and go back,” she explains. “(You) will need 65 days to summit because of the acclimatization process.”