Jackson Tailors - tailors suit makati
Today we will be talking about the mighty Barong Tagalog, otherwise known as the Barong.
And due to the fact that this is, The most iconic of our Filipino heritage, I will be breaking it down to three journals. The Historical part. The Creation of the Barong and the Etiquettes involved in wearing one.
And with that we begin with the History of the Barong Tagalog.
The Barong Tagalog or the Barong is the Filipino National Dress. We use it in almost all occasions. Formals, Business and for Sunday formals. We oftentimes simply call it the barong, leaving out the tagalog.
Outside the Philippines the barong has a different definition. Barong is a lion like creature in Indonesian Mythology. While some Western countries knows the bolo (philippines large cutting knife) or the smaller version of it as the barong and I would think in the Arnis ( Filipino Martial Arts).
So basically to reiterate that we are referring to the National Clothing of the Philippines, we have to remember to use Barong Tagalog and not just the barong. But that is if you are outside the Philippines or speaking to a foreigner.
And speaking of foreigners. The Ma-i (Earliest Filipino natives accounted for by Chinese Song Dynasty Documentarian Zhu Fan Zhi)bartered with the Chinese back in 971AD. Whilst the Spanish came to our shores in 1521.
After which there was a huge change in the Philippine way of dressing up.
The Barong is derived from the word Baro. Which in Filipino simply means piece of clothing, an attire, damit panlalaki (menswear). What a lot of historical background materials available in the internet seems to forget though, is that, it basically ends there. Baro an attire of the Filipino natives back then is entirely different from the Baro of the Colonized Filipino.
The Baro or Attire of the ethnic groups residing in the Philippines before the Spaniards met them can be visually seen from the Boxer Codex. And just to give you a bit of history lessons re this codex, it contains 75 coloured, yes coloured illustrations of the Far East inhabitants in their damit (garb, clothing, apparel). In it are 15, to say the least, Philippine Archipelago inhabitants showing off their Baro which they later on found out as the Filipino word for Clothing. And all these you may research in Wikipedia or if you are able to personally go, in the Lily Library of Indiana University.
You will see Native Filipinos garbed in their most distinctly Mayan outfits and a bit of Elaborate Muslim Garbs which are still reminiscent in today's Muslim costumes. The Barangays mostly located in the now called Visayan and Luzon Islands were the Mayan influenced natives while the Mindanao Islands is where they could have a met the Muslim (Islam followers) Natives. But most likely the ones they were able to illustrate were already migrants working under the Barangay royals of the Visayas since the Baros were not as elaborate as I think a Muslim garb would have been if they had a better stature in life.
So moving on, I discovered that most of the Baro illustrations were reminiscent of the Camisa de Chino or the underwear of the Barong and not the Barong we know of it today that is translucent and very distinctly see through. Hence the need for a Camisa de Chino, Chinese Camisole. Clearly this needs to be recognized since it is basically our History.
There has been great discourse in the History of the Barong. And as I produced it in my video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-4VilQP1Ko&list=PLO9vXDu5Z4JW2ZL1PWc99n_fwNWQmp8U4&index=6, I took great lengths to showcase the debate surrounding our National Dress.
On one side there is the clearly misguided Baro being the first Barong Tagalog and on the other side is an undisputed "legend" of Spanish Apertheid impositions on our colonized ancestors.
When I first heard about the legend, I never really paid much attention to it. Being young and really, its been a century since it happened, so who really cares. I still really do have feelings of indifference to it. But that it being debated is really a wonder. I guess Spain has taken offense at what is being written especially that the Barong Tagalog has ultimately been eternally ingrained in our Heritage, well I don't know how to write this part since I don't want to get political.
Nevertheless, I hope my Spanish readers wont take offense but clearly it is shown, in my humblest opinion, that the Barong Tagalog emerged during the Apartheid times of the Philippines Spanish Colonized Era. So we have since been occupied by two more western countries, one successful and the other not so much. So really fellow pinoys, no such drama is needed. We should actually embrace the evolution of the Barong Tagalog.
And with that here is the legend.
which I will just link here:
But just to give you a jist, the Spanish Colonizers, in fear of dissidence from the colonized Filipinos (Tagalog Filipinos), required them to wear a see through baro (clothing) in order for the Spanish ruling class to detect if the Indios (slang for Colonized Tagalog people) were carrying a weapon.
Hence the translucency which we now know as the barong tagalog.
Or I would say the clothing of the tagalogs.
So there, that is the history of the Barong Tagalog. But wait there's more.
The Indios barong in turn evolved into this beautifully crafted clothing required menswear. Our colonized ancestors added fabulous embroidery and fishing net like sewing methods called the Calado ( which we will be tackling in our next journal) that sealed the Barong Tagalog's Perpetuity. The Meticulously handcrafted embossed designs suddenly changed the course of the Barong tagalog from its "humble" Apartheid roots to an acceptable Menswear formal to both Black Tie and White tie events.
Understanding why there is so much debate is confusing me. It really is too long ago, ancient times. I do not think we should change it. But embrace beautiful symbolism of how Filipinos just live with it attitude. Which I think and believe the new generation should harness for new adversities in our country's future.
" Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable, a spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed." - Buddha-
We should also give accolade to our Filipino Embroiderers from Laguna (Ma-i), Filipino tailors, Filipino Designers and Politicians as well.
The dashing President Manuel L. Quezon became the poster boy of the NEPA rallying cry of "Buy Filipino". Whilst the beloved of the masses President "Mambo" Magsaysay for reinventing the Barong Tagalog. ( More on these in our next journals)
They, along with the Franciscan nuns who taught the Lumban Pinoys how to sew, are the people behind this illustrious Barong Tagalog.