Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rocked a Barong Tagalog at a summit by world leaders in Manila last year.
Trudeau again wore the embroidered formal shirt when he attended a Filipino cultural gathering in Toronto last summer.
Considered the national costume by men in the Philippines, the Barong Tagalog will be the subject of an exhibit in Vancouver on Thursday (October 6).
Architect Michael Dakudao of the Philippines has brought several pieces of his private collection for the show being organized by the Philippine consulate in Vancouver and the Anyone Can Act Theatre group.
In a phone interview, Dakudao told the Straight that the Barong Tagalog has a long history, predating Spanish colonization that started in the 16th century.
The word ‘baro’ means dress, and ‘Tagalog’ refers to the native people of Luzon, the biggest island in the archipelago.
Typically made from traditional fibers like sinamay from a banana species called abaca, pina from pineapple, and jusi from silk, the Barong Tagalog is a sheer garment meant to be worn as tucked out dress.
Based on an account provided by the cultural section of the Philippine consulate in Vancouver, the Barong Tagalog has evolved in meaning through the course of Philippine history.
During the over 300 years of Spanish occupation ending in 1889, the colonizers required Filipino men to wear the garment to mark their lowly status.
During the 1930s, the Barong Tagalog became an item of Filipino pride after the first president of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon, made it a national dress for men.
Since then, Philippine presidents have worn the garment in their inaugurations and other official functions.
The tradition of wearing the Barong Tagalog lives on in Filipino men in and outside the Philippines. It’s the preferred garment in important events like weddings.
The invitation-only exhibit on October 6 will start at 6 p.m. at the Philippine consulate offices (Suite 660, 999 Canada Place).