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.
We are having an untraditional Filipino wedding. Untraditional in the sense that we are not having a huge 500 person wedding!! We are not inviting all the aunties and uncles (that are somehow related but I’m not quite sure how). I read some where that the tradition of a huge wedding is due to the legacy of the entire village celebrating the bride and groom’s union. This is a wonderful thing but in this economic recession–not feasible!
My fiance, who is the Filipino one, never wanted a large wedding. He didn’t really want it to be a huge ordeal. Just a natural evolution of our relationship. I didn’t even imagine this or think it was something to be considered because my family is so small. I think the largest party my family has ever thrown had about 40 people! My uncles and aunts are not married, and I have no cousins. I have never attended a marriage in my own family!
My fiance and I decided that 100 people would be our absolute max. Anything more we would be uncomfortable. Really we hope that the turn out would be more like 75. But 100 would be our cap. This was how we initially decided on our wedding size.
But the closer and closer the wedding gets the more I have to explain why Auntie X or Uncle Z isn’t invited. I say “We are only inviting immediate family.” Or I try to divert the blame, “It’s not up to me, Mr. Cali Girl is in charge of his guests. If he thinks we should invite them then I will add them to the guest list” But I hate this. I don’t want to burn any bridges, I don’t know the ties of all his family’s relationships. I wish I wouldn’t have to be faced with this.
I wish I could have just had that 500 person event in a huge hall so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I am a softie! I love people. But in reality my venue only fits 120 (and this would be with no dance floor). So reality is we WILL have a small wedding. Well, a small one for his family and a LARGE one for mine!
How did you decide on your wedding guest list size? Economics? Family size? Comfort level?
My fiance’s parents came to this country a little over thirty years ago from the Philippines. Their entry to America was by way of Hawaii then San Francisco then New York, where my soon-to-be husband was born. As a second generation Filipino-American he is bound by two cultures. Rejoicing in being an American and being Filipino. Of course he has been taught traditional Filipino culture from his parents, his family, and his community. As a third generation European-American I too come from a specific way of life that seems to me as completely normal. However, he is much more aware of the dichotomy and cultural norms he must adhere to in his different environments. I often assume my norms are “American” and not what my parents — an English-German third gen and a Bulgarian-English third gen–taught me.
Last February we went to the Philippines, lovingly called “PI” by second gens, and it shattered some of what he thought he knew, explained a lot of what he didn’t, and informed both of us about the nuances of his parents’ ways. We went for a wedding but this didn’t fully prepare me for the questions his mom would ask me about the wedding.
My mother-in-law-to-be’s main question since we got engaged was who our sponsors were going to be. “Sponsors?”, I thought. Are these people who will be paying for the wedding? That seems a bit “different”, I thought. No, no “sponsors” are individuals involved in your lives that will stand up and attest that you two should get married, and that you have the support of your friends, family, and the community. Basically saying, as elders, “we support this union.” From a little research this seems to be mostly a Hispanic Catholic tradition. The Philippines were ruled by Spain through Mexico City and in many ways their customs share similarities. Not being Catholic I wasn’t familiar with this term. So right now I am trying to brainstorm who in my family would be sponsors. His mom came up with examples for him. But who should be my sponsors? I’m trying to think of people with the same sort of “status” or relationship.
Typically for a Filipino this information goes on the wedding invitation. But do I want to have this on the invites? I think my friends and family will be confused by the term. I’ve got to figure this out before our wedding invitations can be printed! So by the begin of this project–by February–it has got to be planned.