The Filipino Barong Tagalog, also known simply as baro or barong, is a formal long-sleeved traditional shirt with embroidery and is a part of the indigenous clothing of the Philippines. The Filipino Barong Tagalog combines aspects of both colonial and indigenous Filipino clothing styles.
The origins of the Barong are murky, but what is known is that small communities, formed in the rural areas of the Philippines, were originally established as security measures against the rise of the Spanish in the country. Many Spaniards lived in the Philippines and were considered to be a threat to the locals. In addition, the Spanish sought to distinguish the local Filipinos from themselves and insisted on a uniform garment. To counter the threat of violence from these Spaniards, many Filipinos in their villages and in their towns began to wear their own distinct style of clothing in order to show their support of the Spaniards and the empire they served. The Spaniards viewed the Filipinos that wore the Barong Tagalog as adherents to the social order that was being established.
Today the Barong Tagalog is a point of national pride. It started out as a uniform that was see through, with no pockets and not allowed to be tucked in that was meant to oppress its wearer. Now time has transformed this garment, that the Spanish intended to oppress the Filipinos with, into a point of national pride. Although created for political reasons to distinguish native Filipinos from the Spaniards, the Barong Tagalog has been declared the national cultural dress of the Filipinos nation. President Ramon Magsaysay in the 1950s transformed the Barong Tagalog when he began to wear it whenever he was conducting official country business. In 1975 President Ferdinand E. Marcos took it a step further and declared June 5-11 to be Barong Tagalog Week. This garment is world renowned for being an expression of national pride for the citizens of the Philippines.
The word Barong actually comes from the name of an area where Barongs originated. For example, in the provinces of Laguna, Bicol and Isabela, the Barong in these areas were named after their surrounding towns or cities where they are located. These names are used to help the local residents remember what these places looked like, how their people lived and the history they were a part of.
There are also certain areas in the country where Barong is still called after the place where they are located, such as in the Manila Barong which is named after Manila. However, there are areas where the Barong is known as a separate entity such as in Tagaytay city in the Central Visayas. This city has its own Barong but is separate from other Barong in Tagaytay city, which are located around the central area of Tagaytay City. This way, people living in Tagaytay can not only refer to the area as Barong but also refer to its Barong mayor as mayor.
Barong, the name itself, is an indication that the person wearing the Modern Barong Tagalog shirt has chosen to wear it for something more than just a shirt. It is the name given to the person wearing the uniform and it is a sign of respect, honor, loyalty and recognition. Although most people in the Philippines still wear this type of clothing for casual purposes, it is a tradition for young boys and girls to grow up to wear the Barong Tagalog and feel a great sense of pride when showing off this garment with delicate fabric and intricate designs.