Maria Makiling is the most widely known and beloved diwata (fairy or nymph) of the Philippines. As the guardian spirit of Mount Makiling, she is depicted as a beautiful young woman in radiant white clothing, surrounded by the natural flora and fauna. Her long black hair is adorned with the fragrant white flowers of the pomelo tree. Maria is shy but gracious and generous, often helping the local people. Stories abound of her giving away baskets of ginger that turn into gold. Other stories tell of her falling in love with mortal men. But she will not tolerate abuse, either of herself or her mountain, and punishes evil-doers by playing tricks on them.

Maria Makiling costumeIt’s very likely that Maria Makiling is the modern folkloric version of a pre-Christian deity. Diyan Masalanta was the ancient Tagalog goddess of love, whose home was in the forest. When the Spanish arrived, it seems that Diyan Masalanta was renamed Maria Makiling (meaning, in the local parlance, “the woman of Makiling”) and recast as a fairy. And so she lives on, as enchanting as ever.

For our Maria Makiling costume, we wanted white fairy layers that would float like the mist on Mount Makiling. The pieces we suggest, from left to right:

1. White handkerchief hem dress. This is Sakkas’ “Lady Mary” dress, with bodice lacing and adjustable straps to customize the fit.
2. White square-neck batwing top. Wear this over your dress for floaty layers on your upper half.
3. Apple green satin sash. We wanted some leafy color in our costume, and what’s leafier than apple green?
4. Green enchantress headpiece. Also available here. This delightful wreath not only gives you a fairy look, but also serves as a convenient base for attaching the requisite white flowers (next).
5. Plumeria flower hair clips. In the United States it is difficult to find artificial pomelo flowers, so for our costume we used plumeria blossoms instead. Just clip a few of these right onto your hair wreath.
6. Two 14″ artificial white doves. Maria Makiling is always communing with birds, so why not have a couple of them perch in your hair wreath? You can use hair clips or even binder clips to attach them to the wreath. Check out Factory Direct Crafts for doves in other sizes; they have plenty of smaller ones in various poses.


Main illustration credits: The beautiful painting is Maria Makiling (1994) by Herodion Lovino.

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Other costumes in this category: Goddesses and Legends