Revival of Interest in Philippines’ Traditional Clothing

by: Kotaro Ice (@kotarofleet )

Clothing is one of the reasons why other countries get to know the Filipino tradition and culture. Barong Tagalog for men and Baro’t Saya for women. It has various types in which it is divided by areas and regions. So, how did the Filipiniana dress become our National Dress? When and why did Filipinos wear these kinds of clothes?

Traje de Mestiza also known as Filipiniana dress or, commonly called "terno" which is beingcalled at this point of time "Maria Clara", which was from the literary figure of Noli Me Tangere,written by Dr. Jose Rizal. I am sure that most of us have knowledge about the colonization ofSpain, America, and Japan in our country- the Philippines. To be more specific; their culture, lifestyle, and fashion influenced our country. In the pre-colonial events, the clothes symbolize the social status of Filipinos. Before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines,Filipinos used to wear a canga- a collarless shirt with a double sleeve doublet and bahag- that was used by indigenous tribes of the Philippines, most notably in Northern Luzon, which evolved and became the Barong Tagalog that men now wear on special occasions. The doublet of canga signifies the social statusback then. Black or white color for the common people while, red color for chiefs. Eventually,canga and bahag evolved and became Baro’t Saya and Barong Tagalog. The linen embroidery, the designs, the fabric or textile that they used on making Barong Tagalog, and the buttons were noticeable and became easily recognized by other people as our national costume. The Spanish clothing styles also influenced and, said to be that baro’t saya was an elegant hybrid of Filipino and Spanish clothing styles.

After the Spaniards colonization, the Americans arrived. This colonization of America has themost factor and contribution in the evolution of our style. As to our knowledge, the Philippines istropical and maritime. It is described by relatively high temperature. A not-so-recommended country to wear baro’t saya and barong tagalog, so Filipinos thought of a way to lessen and to fit the outfits in our country. They used cotton cloth, cambaya, and native textiles for baro’t saya and piña, piña-silk, abaca, cocoon, and jusi for barong tagalog. Traditional clothing of the Philippines projects and represents the society and way of life of the Filipinos. Baro’t Saya’s Hispanicized version transforms again after the European influences which result in the birth of Maria Clara(Filipiniana) that was named after a literary figure of Noli Me Tangere’s book written by Dr. Jose Rizal. Filipiniana is the aristocratic version of Baro’t Saya. It also appears that the first womanwho wore "terno" was our former first lady Imelda Marcos. Ramon Magsaysay, the seventh President of the Philippines who wore Barong Tagalog on his inauguration and made it the official attire for men. From the 5th to 11th of May year 1975, President Ferdinand Marcos made Barong Filipino Week under Proclamation No. 1347, s. 1975 and acknowledged Barong Tagalog as our national attire.

Filipinos in this modern-day wore Baro't Saya and Barong Tagalog during weddings, festivals,and special occasions as formal attire. As stated in the article of Cclstaff, "The barong became asymbolof Filipino freedom and resistance to colonization. In the decades leading up to thePhilippine revolution against the Spanish colonial regime, individuals and small groups of peopleachieved socio-economic and cultural power in ways they had never done in the early days ofcolonization." Barong Tagalog is a transparent upper garment while the Baro't Saya is a dressensemble worn by women. A combination of Baro- a blouse fitted and Saya- a skirt made ofcotton fabric.

The chronological events that have been occurred for the past years really influenced our clothing. There are different versions of traditional clothing and let us admit that the differenttribes of the Philippines also have native clothing, something that they are proud of. Philippines’National Costume today is worn to special occasions, weddings, and pageants just like MissUniverse. Like how Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, andthe past representative of the Philippines in Miss Universe.

Kotaro Ice is an editorial writer for LAGABLAB. You can contact him at @kotarofleet

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