When Filipino men get dressed up, they put on the traditional barong.
No…I didn’t say sarong! A barong is a shirt that falls just past the waist, worn untucked, with long sleeves, embroidery, and buttons along the front. It looks like a Western dress shirt at first but then you see it–it is transparent! (Guys do wear an undershirt…don’t worry!!)
It has been worn for the last four hundred years, ever since colonization by the Spaniards in the 1500s. The origins of it are a little bit fuzzy but they say the Spaniards made them wear it to differentiate the natives from the rulers. It was transparent so no weapons could be concealed, contained no pockets to deter thievery, and was untucked to show their savageness. So why in contemporary times do Filipinos wear this style shirt if it was meant to insult? It has been reclaimed by the people! Just as vernacular words do, so does the barong!! It is now the official dress of the Philippines. AND the style of dress for grooms.
When my groom and I went to the Philippines last year he got his very own. This wasn’t the easiest thing for him to do. We went to a marketplace that had a number of stands set up selling barongs. But my man is a bit bigger than the average Filipino. He is pushing 6’1” and at the time pushing 250 lbs. Most of the barongs were small sizes and when they did have his size they wanted to charge almost double saying that it was extra fabric! Yes it technically is more fabric–but really, double? But it is really nice. The embroidery on each is different and he and his friends had a great time picking his out.
So he has his! He could wear his for the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, or our brunch. A direct import from his native land.
Here is a breakdown of the word ‘Barong Tagalog’:
Baro = Dress
Barong = Dress of
Barong Tagalog = Dress of the Tagalog