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Barong Tagalog History

Only a small percentage of the world knows what a Barong Tagalog is. It is not only a cherished garment, it defines a nation through its creation. It embodies the art of rare artisans of embroidery and weaving. It gives men an excuse to wear something beautiful, yet it is still masculine. 

The Barong Tagalog also known simply as “Barong” or originally as “Baro ng Tagalog” (dress of the Tagalog) is the Official Filipino National attire. It has a similar cut to a men’s dress shirt but comes in varied natural fabrics such as Jusi, Pina, Abaca, Organza, and the more recent Pina-Jusi.  It can be long or short-sleeved with various collars, colors, embroideries, appliques, and/or paintings. It is predominantly worn by men, but there are female variations as well.

Most historians agree that the Barong originates from the Spanish era when Filipinos were forced to wear see-through clothing to deter them from hiding any weapons on their person. Also worn untucked, though it makes any fabric more suitable for tropical weather, it originally was to convey a lower class than the Spaniards. And though it started as a symbol of oppression, when the Filipinos gained their independence from Spain, it had become such a staple in the Filipino culture and wardrobe that it was honored by Presidents Manuel Quezon and Ferdinand Marcos as the national attire.

Today, barongs are worn in the workplace and most importantly at special occassions such as weddings, debuts (a Filipina girl’s special 18th birthday), fiestas, political functions, and any other formal events. Many fashion designers have also embraced it by adding it to their collections and putting their own spin on this true classic. It is known so well world-wide that even non-Filipinos, such as the famous director Quentin Tarantino wearing one at the 65th Golden Globe Awards night, are often more than happy to sport it.

Here is a beautiful song by haranista Ruben Tagalog, aptly titled, "Barong Tagalog."

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