The Barong Tagalog: A Classic Filipino Tradition

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Posted on March 16th, 2008 by

the filipino wedding
Filipino newlyweds celebrating their marriage
In the fashion industry, you are what you wear. Filipino men understand the impact of this statement, which is why you’ll hardly ever find them looking lousy on incredibly special occasions, particularly their wedding day. When it comes to Filipino traditional men’s formal wear, there’s no disputing the incredible popularity of the barong tagalog.

The barong tagalog is a staple in Filipino weddings. It’s the perfect wedding attire for grooms who want to add a touch of Filipino tradition and culture to their nuptials. What exactly is a barong tagalog? Read on to find out more about this traditional Filipino costume.

The Barong Tagalog

barong tagalog
The barong tagalog, ready-to-wear for the wedding
The barong tagalog, also known simply as “barong,” is an embroidered formal shirt worn by men and women in the Philippines. The barong is not usually tucked in, and is worn with an undershirt, as it is a sheer garment. It is formal attire that is usually worn by men, particularly the groom, for Filipino weddings.

Barong tagalogs come in a number of different fabrics. The following are some of the most popular barong fabrics available.

the barong tagalog
Barong Tagalog:a must-wear for Filipino grooms
Piña: The word “piña,” literally translates to “pineapple” in Tagalog. The piña fabric is created from pineapple leaf fibers, which are carefully hand-loomed. Due to the dwindling number of piña weavers in the country, this sheer and delicate fabric is considerably pricier than others.

Banana fabric: Banana fabric is a type of sheer textile that is mostly worn for formal events. These fabrics are hand-woven from choice banana fibers. Another characteristic of the banana fabric is its intricate geometric patterns and detailing.

Jusi Fabric: Jusi fabrics are mechanically woven, and were once made from either banana silk or abaca. Today, the jusi fabric is woven with the use of imported silk organza.

Piña-Jusi fabric: The piña-jusi fabric is the latest barong fabric to hit the market. It has the perfect blend of strength and sheerness with its combination of jusi and pineapple fibers.

Historical and Cultural Significance of the Barong Tagalog

president ramon magsaysay
The late Pres. Ramon Magsaysay wearing the barong tagalog
The practice of wearing the translucent barong tagalog is said to have started during the Spanish Colonial Era. Legend has it that the barong was worn untucked to distinguish the ordinary Filipino from the ruling class. The barong was created from translucent fabric to allow the Spaniards to see if the wearer was carrying concealed weapons or not.

Arguments against this historical theory state that the reason behind the thin and sheer fabric had more to do with the weather than concealed weaponry. With the country’s humidity, it was impractical for people to wear thick coats and heavy fabrics.

The barong tagalog became the country’s standard men’s formal wear after being popularized by barong-clad President, Ramon Magsaysay. Magsaysay wore the barong tagalog to most of his personal and official affairs, even his presidential inauguration.

Years later, in the year 1975, President Ferdinand Marcos issued a decree that made the barong tagalog the country’s official national costume.

Barong Tagalog Styles

a banana-made barong
A barong made from banana fabric
Fabric choice is one of the most important considerations when it comes to buying a barong tagalog. Although piña barongs are extremely luxurious to have, the jusi fabric offers a more durable option. To have the best of both worlds, we suggest you pick a piña-jusi barong over your other alternatives.

a blue barong
A blue barong tagalog made from pina-jusi fabric

Another important factor you have to consider includes your choice of design and detailing. Most barong tagalogs today come with detailed embroidery and decorations. Find an embroidery pattern that works well with your entire outfit.

A simple barong can look extremely elegant, but without the right accessories, you can end up looking overly boring. An over-decorated barong, on the other hand, can seem overwhelming at times. We suggest you look for the happy medium.

Want to see more Barong tagalog designs? Just watch the video below.

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Find the right barong to complete your traditional Filipino wedding.