Know More About Your Barong

Know More About Your Barong

 

The word Barong is a contraction of the first two words used to refer to the Philippines’ formal wear for men, the “Baro ng Tagalog”.
The Barong had undergone several changes from its original form which was a collarless shirt of rough cotton called the Canga of the pre-Hispanic Ma-i people of the island of Luzon.
When the Spaniards arrived, the barong further evolved from having embroidery only on the chest area, to a much more elaborate one. Even the collar had toned down from the Elizabethan ruffle to the standard standing collar common today.

The post-colonial Barong were ones popularized by the Philippine presidents since the Commonwealth period: in particular, Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon’s, which bore the Philippine Commonwealth and American flags; the barong resurrected by president Ramon Magsaysay, which saw a change in embroidery from dainty flowers to geometric patterns; and the designer barongs worn by president Ferdinand Marcos, which helped catapult the barong to its present status and gave it international acclaim. Then, the Barong’s more informal form which had short sleeves had been introduced. In its continuing change, the barong goes on evolving with the apparently inexhaustible use and treatment of fabric and embellishment, introduced though the creative use of dyes, paints, needlework and beadwork.

What is so special about the barong is that it is uniquely Filipino both in its origin and its evolution. Like the Filipino spirit it represents, the barong had to contend with many external influences, yet has successfully transformed itself as respectable formal attire not just for Filipino’s but for other nationalities as well. This international acceptance has enabled it to stand side by side with the most expensive suits in any grand affair, and evoke its own stately appeal. Today, the Philippines’ barong is rich in history, yet it has become contemporary; artistic, yet very much wearable. It has developed a character all its own