More frequently called “Barong”, this piece of clothing is one of the most elegant, priceless wardrobes that play a huge part in representing the Filipino culture. It is also considered as the national dress of the Philippines, along with the traditional “Baro at Saya” of the females (although a more formal version of this is the “Maria Clara” gown).
It is worn during special occasions, such as weddings, formal events, and even dance performances like the Cariñosa. Government officials, such as the President, would also wear this during formal meetings and SONAs.
Traditionally woven from rich textiles such as piña and abaca, the Barong Tagalog never ceases to look stylish and sophisticated. In the modern time, however, the Philippines’ national dress is more often made from other materials such as silk and polyester.
History of the Barong Tagalog
The production and use of the Barong Tagalog could be traced back to the Philippines' pre-colonial era. Most people would think that the Barong Tagalog was always white. Filipino ancestors did it slightly differently before—the color of the Barong they would wear would indicate their social status. Those of power, such as chiefs, would wear red; commoners would wear white or black.
The Barong Tagalog was not always translucent in appearance, as well. There is a common belief that this so happened when the Spaniards had invaded the country. The Spaniards requested or forced the Filipino ancestors to make the wardrobe translucent and be worn untucked so that hiding weapons and stolen pieces would be avoided.
Another unconfirmed, yet strongly believed, reason for the Barong being untucked is that since it is woven from piña and abaca, the fiber would eventually irritate the skin. It was also believed that—even though it is also unconfirmed—the Spaniards were also the ones reasonable for the embroidery on the Barong Tagalog. It is said that the subjugators had told them to put these embroideries to make the outfit look more elegant.
Pricing Guide on Barong Tagalog
A Barong Tagalog’s price may vary depending on the textile it was woven from. If it was made the traditional way—with piña, ramie, and abaca—expect the price to range around $109.00 to $309.00. Colored barongs, which are usually less translucent than the traditional ones, range from $99.00 to $119.00. Black barongs that are often worn to funerals would cost around $109.00 to $449.00.
The Barong Tagalog Today
The Barong was eventually worn not only on special occasions but it was also worn to celebrate freedom and independence. You might see many Filipinos wearing it, especially in June and August, when celebrating their Independence Day and Buwan ng Wika, respectively.
The Barong is not anymore worn to indicate one’s social status, but Filipinos can wear it in multiple colors freely. Many new embroideries have also been woven to the national dress, such as geometric designs and floral patterns.