Barong Tagalog

 




Barong Tagalog

The Barong Tagalog exhibits the loose, long lines of its Chinese sources, the airy tropical appearance of Indo-Malay costume, the elongated effect of Hindu dressing, and the ornamental restraint of European men's clothing.

The barong appears to have retained its essential look since it was first worn. Through the years, almost imperceptibly, the barong's round neck, straight long sleeves and mid-thigh hemline were ingeniously modified with collar, cuffs and side slits.

Connoisseurs of historical details say that during the Spanish era, the rulers required that the baro of the indio be made of flimsy material so that he could not conceal weapons on his person.

Supposedly, the indio was also prohibited from tucking in his shirt, to designate his low rank and to tell him apart from the mestizaje and insulares.

In a lighter vein, some speculate that the indio's baro did not have pockets because he was poor and did not have money to put in them anyway.

Such details of costume history may well be apocryphal- if we consider that the fabric of the barong were traditionally either abaka, pina or jusi. And these fabrics were naturally sheer, flimsy and semi-transparent, with a stiffness that discourages tucking, and a fineness that would sag with sewn pockets.

However lowly or lofty its heritage may be, the barong Tagalog became the consummate Filipino costume for men, worn by statesmen, tycoons and artists in all events of importance. To seal its national stature, the barong Tagalog is the official wear of the President of the Philippines.

source: www.filipinoheritage.com
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What is a Barong?

Barong is actually short for Barong Tagalog, which describes the formal men's wear of the Philippines. It is properly referred to as the 'Baro ng Tagalog' (dress of the Tagalog). Contracting the first two words produces 'Barong,' which literally means 'dress of.' So, if we want to be correct, we wouldn't say just 'Barong.' But, the slang way of referring to one of the beautiful formal shirts is simply Barong. Yes, the Barong Tagalog is a dress, a garment, a coat in itself. It is not merely a 'shirt'. If it were, then it would need a coat or a jacket over it to qualify as formal wear and would have to be worn tucked inside the trousers.

'Baro' = Word for 'dress' in the Philippines, Tagalog dialect
'Baro ng Tagalog' = 'dress of the Tagalog' describes the formal 'dress' or upper garment for men in the Philippines
'Barong Tagalog' = contracted form of the above
'Barong' = literally means 'dress of' - but commonly used to refer to the formal men's wear in the Philippines

source: http://store.yahoo.com/mybarong/index.html
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History of the Barong Tagalog

The Baro ng Tagalog, or Barong Tagalog, has evolved from pre-Hispanic native wear to the "Philippines national wear" over the course more than four centuries. Throughout its evolution, various factors have influenced the look and meaning of the Barong Tagalog. We'll take a journey through the history of the Barong Tagalog, along the way seeing glimpses of what they looked like The timeline, below, is based on excerpts from "The Barong Tagalog - The Philippines' National Wear" by Visitacion R. de la Torre.

Timeline: The Barong Tagalog History:

16th century / Pre-Spanish. The natives of Ma-I (the Philippines as it was called before the Spaniards renamed the archipelago), in particular, the Tagalog people of Luzon, wore baro. The Tagalog males wore a sleeve-doublet of rough cotton cloth called canga.

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In the 1700s, the Spanish brought in their dressy shirt with standing collar.

The ilustrado wore the baro with a "high Elizabethan collar trimmed with lace and adorned with a gem or a big button". It extended just above the knees and was worn with a thin sash high across the waist. 

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Early nineteenth century: the baro was shortened and the Elizabethan collar was replaced by a short one, sans lace.

Modification to the baro quickened in the 19th century as the natives brushed elbows with the Europeans more frequently... and around 1859, the baro acquired the romantic look. It was embroidered all over whereas embroidery had previously been confined to the chest alone.

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The tradition of embroidery

The ordinary folk, on the other hand, wore their everyday dress as they had done for a hundred years: loose shirts of coarse quimara cloth, often blue or blue-and-white-striped, and worn over trousers. An added flair was a kerchief flung over the shoulder and worn as a putong on the head.

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1898: By the time the Filipino nationalists had won their fight for independence, the baro ng Tagalog, or Barong Tagalog as it was popularly called from then on, with ruffled collar and cuffs and more elaborate designs, reappeared.


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1920's: a style emerged that was considered "the most authentic" Barong Tagalog. Made of rengue abaca fiber, it was worn over camisa de chino (a Chinese collarless, T-shirt) and sported a design on the half-open. With plain collar, and pleated backs, it was the vogue till 1930

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1935: under the tutelage of President Manuel L. Quezon, a variation of the Barong Tagalog, known as the "Commonwealth Barong Tagalog" or the Barong Tagalog with the Tydings Mc Duffle motif became popular.

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The baro gained hope when the "man of the masses," President Ramon Magsaysay (1955-1957), chose to wear the Barong Tagalog in all official and personal affairs. He was attributed the signal honor of using the Barong Tagalog during his inauguration and during his brief term, made it fashionable as business and formal wear.

The term of ex-President Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1964) saw the return of all over embroidery on the Barong Tagalog although it certainly was confined to formal functions.

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1975: President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued a decree proclaiming Barong Tagalog Week (June 5 - 11) and designated the Barong Tagalog as "the national attire." The presidential act was meant to focus nation-wide attention on the Filipino national dress to wider use and enhance its export potential.

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source: http://store.yahoo.com/mybarong/index.html
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How the Barong Tagalog Evolved In History

As the Philippines' national dress, the Barong Tagalog enjoys a distinction all its own. Its fine needlework or hand-painted designs in cool cotton or handwoven pina or jusi have given it a flair that has won international recognition and acceptance. President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who has worn the Barong Tagalog with such impeccable grace and searing devotion, underscored its prestige when he issued in 1975 a decree proclaiming Barong Tagalog Week (June 5-11) and more significantly, officially designating the Barong Tagalog as "the national attire". The presidential act was meant to focus nation-wide attention on the Filipino national dress to wider use and enhance its export potential. As it is, both the wide use and export potential of the Barong Tagalog have been explored , its full impact just a matter of time. What deserves another look is the manner the Filipino national costume has evolved and grown, picking up and shedding features fashion-related or otherwise in its journey from pre-Hispanic native wear to national dress. But first, a few things have to be straightened out. Barong Tagalog is properly referred to as the "Baro ng Tagalog" (dress of the Tagalog) and it cannot be contracted to simply "Barong" since that would be equivalent in English to saying "He is wearing a dress of". The word "Barong", one realizes, means "dress of". If one wishes to shorten the phrase, then it would be "Baro" or "dress". Yes, the Barong Tagalog is a dress, a garment, a coat in itself. It is not a "shirt". If it were, then it would need a coat or a jacket over it to qualify as formal wear and would have to be worn tucked inside the trousers. The Earliest Baro The earliest known fact on the "Baro ng Tagalog" discloses that the natives of Ma-I (the Philippines as it was called before the Spaniards re-discovered the archipelago), and in particular, the Tagalogs, who lived in the island of Luzon, wore baro.

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The Tagalog males
wore a sleeve-doublet of rough cotton cloth called canga, reaching slightly below the waist, collarless and with the opening in front. Depending on their social rank and badge of courage, the doublet was either red, black, blue or white (red for the chiefs and brave men, black or white for the ordinary citizens). Their loins were covered with a sort of colored pagne called bahague which hung between the legs to mid-thigh. The Tagalog women also wore a sleeve-dress of the same color as the men's, although their clothing was shorter than the men's. Too they wore a cotton pagne attached to the waist and reaching to the feet but a colored belt accented the grace and suppleness of their figures. Other historical sources describe the personal attire of the Tagalog men, presumably those of the upper crust, as made of fine linen or Indian muslin which barely reached the waist. It was a short loose jacket (chamarreta) without collar and fitted with short sleeves. For breeches or pants, they wore "a richly colored cloth, which was generally edged with gold, about the waist and brought up between the legs, so that the legs were decently covered to the middle of the thigh from there down; feet and legs were bare. Called saluales, they were also worn loose and wide and made of linen. These were not open in front, but fastened on one side. The Visayans of the Visayan islands, wore, similarly a "robe" (marlota) or jacket (baquero) made without a collar and reaching quite down to the feet, and embroidered in colors. The entire dress, in fine, was in the moorish style, and was truly rich and gay...... The Tagalog and Visayan men bound their forehead and temples with long, narrow strips of cloth which they called putong. About their necks, they sported "gold necklaces, wrought like spun silk, and on their arms, armlets of wrought gold (called calombigas) which were huge and made of different patterns. Others wore strings of precious stones such as cornelians and agates, blue and white stones and certain cords, covered with black pitch in many foldings, as garters." A Franciscan friar, Fray San Francisco de San Antonio in his Cronicas added that the men's baro was "loose to the wind, with wide sleeves and without cuffs." For church functions and other official ceremonies, the chiefs and others wore a black woven smock reaching to their feet with sleeves fitted to the wrists over said clothes. They called this baron mahaba or long baro, a very modest and proper dress also worn loose.

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A little after the eighteenth century, the baro was shortened and the Elizabethan collar was replaced by a short one, sans lace. The loose trousers were likewise changed. They became tight and adorned with big military stripes which were then in vogue. These loose trousers, however, made a comeback in 1750, this time, trimmed with laces or embroidered at the edges, a fashion that lasted till the first quarter of the 19th century. Moreover, it had no buttons and to fasten it around the waist, there were three openings, one in front and two at each side, with silk strings. During this period, the handkerchief, usually of colored silk and inspired by the European cravat, was introduced to go with the attire. By the 1840s the trousers that the Indios wore together with the baro assumed the shape and fit of real-honest-to-goodness pants as they are known today. The men wore plain, long-sleeved loose shirts made of handwoven cotton, silk, sinamay, jusi and lupis. Interviews with some authorities on Philippine costume or fashion history yield the popular belief that the baro is not tucked in because it simply looks better if it is tucked out. Aesthetically speaking, the baro with its loose style, and woven embroidery and sheer fabric is for display, for exhibition. How in the world would the baro attain full radiance, so to speak, if it hides beneath pants and belts? Anyhow, the tradition of wearing the Barong Tagalog tucked out has been with us for centuries and Filipinos are not exactly anxious or even bothered about the rationale of such fashion style. In coat form, though of much cruder fabric and done less expertly, the coat-styled baro was worn by the teniente del barrio or gobernadorcillo. Originally termed pinukpok, (perhaps because it was made of beaten abaca fibers called pinukpok), this coat-styled baro was long-sleeved.

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The Ilustrado's Baro Fashion, after the Spaniards came, was largely unchanged. The interesting mixture of Muslim, Chinese and indigenous characteristics began to take on Spanish Occidental influences only in the latter part of the seventeenth century. In the 1700s, the Spanish brought in their dressy shirt with standing collar. They also taught the natives to wear shoes and hats. But strangely enough, only the rich natives with Spanish connections could do so. Why the baro was confined to the ilustrado class (the male members of the families who owned landed estates or who were invested with some authority in the community) cannot really be ascertained. The ilustrado wore the baro with a "high Elizabethan collar trimmed with lace and adorned with a gem or a big button". It extended just above the knees and was worn with a thin sash high across the waist. The trousers that went with it were loose and of course, this kind of attire required the use of slippers, if not shoes. One source claims that in wearing the baro, the ilustrados were not allowed to tuck it under their waistband or have any pockets. It is said that this prohibition was meant to humiliate the "Indios" as a constant reminder that despite the trappings of wealth or power, they remained natives. Or simply to make them easily identifiable to their Spanish rulers. These allegations though deserve further study. Another source has it that the baro is tucked out for health reasons. With the sinamay or pinukpok (locally grown cloth made from pineapple or abaca fibers) as material, it is said that using either causes rashes or skin irritation because of the material's fibers. Thus, it has been thought wise and practical to tuck the baro out. Besides, the country's tropical climate favors clothes that are tucked out, just as in other nations in the Orient, the male's garments are long, loose and tucked out. Also, since the Philippines had commercial contacts with some countries in the East such as China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc., where the men wore long, tucked out attires, then somehow the baro worn tucked out must have been influenced. Grandmothers' stories, on the other hand, disclose that the baro hangs loose over trousers because these baro were "hand-me-downs" from the Spaniards and other foreign masters. Since the Filipinos were shorter and smaller in build, the baro appeared loose and was tucked out since belts or the practice of tucking it in was not part of the sartorial tradition of the natives then. It was also customary during those times that in households where Filipinos proved to be more than househelps, used but still wearable clothes of the masters of the house were generously and affectionately given.

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Nineteenth Century Baro Modification to the baro quickened in the 19th century as the natives brushed elbows with the Europeans more frequently and around 1859, the baro acquired the romantic look. It was embroidered all over whereas embroidery had previously been confined to the chest alone. In addition, it was buttoned on the chest, had a smaller collar and bold curls. Later the collar became ruffled and then plain. Incidentally, the neckerchief was no longer worn. But this time the baro was worn tucked under a European topcoat by the mestizos (half-foreigners or of mixed ancestry although at that time, mestizos alone referred to Spanish Filipinos) who had opportunities to travel and to catch not only the rapid fires of liberalism and freedom that were sweeping Europe at this time but also the trends and fads of fashion. The ordinary folk, on the other hand, wore their everyday dress as they had done for a hundred years: loose shirts of coarse quimara cloth, often blue or blue-and-white-striped, and worn over trousers. An added flair was a kerchief flung over the shoulder and worn as a putong on the head. And for special occasions, a black high hat was considered smart. From the mid-19th century there were more uniformity and restraint in men's wear. The cravat had gone out of fashion. The baro had a neat, tailored collar upon which a narrow black cravat was worn at formal functions and the buttons on the cuffs disappeared. At times, the men wore their baro cerrada or close-necked. And the trousers? They remained long and narrow.

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The Barong Tagalog By the time the Filipino nationalists had won their fight for independence, the baro ng Tagalog, or Barong Tagalog as it was popularly called from then on, with ruffled collar and cuffs and more elaborate designs, reappeared. Presumably, it was called Barong Tagalog since it was first worn among the people of Luzon who were called "Tagalogs", as differentiated from the "Bisaya" or Visayans who stayed in the Visayan provinces. This type of baro was in use till 1920. Worn without the chaqueta, the Barong Tagalog acquired a fresh look with its rainbow of colors and motley of design as in stripes of all sizes, tiny checks and flower patterns. There were also the two-colored Barong Tagalog with the square embroidered design n front, similar to the front designs of European dress shirts. The material was made of jusi and sinamay. This was the time, significantly, when the Barong Tagalog had begun to interpret itself as an independent costume. The mestizos, to underscore their wealth, wore the baro with imported black leather pointed shoes and bowler hat. Then, like the first breath of spring, emerged what was considered "the most authentic" Barong Tagalog. Made of rengue abaca fiber, it was worn over camisa de chino (a Chinese collarless, T-shirt) and sported a design on the half-open chest (this design was called pechera from the Spanish word "pecho" meaning "chest"). With plain collar, and pleated backs, it was the vogue till 1930.'I'his was of course popular only with the well-heeled Filipinos. The farmers, cocheros, zacateros or vendors had their collarless long-sleeved camisa de chino made of sinamay as their answer to this attractive, distinguish-looking Barong Tagalog. These came in all their festive glory: cream, aquamarine, pink, pastel orange with floral embroidery. Generally, the indio donned the camisa de chino over loose salawals or pants that could easily be folded for work. He went barefoot but at times wore pointed slippers. Sometimes these camisa de chinos sported a pocket either outside or inside. It has also been said that Filipino men of the ilustrado class wore this camisa de chino for their everyday, casual wear and the "authentic Barong Tagalog' of loose cut, and pechera hand embroidery at formal, ceremonial functions.

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The Commonwealth Baro. After the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth on November 15, 1935 under the tutelage of President Manuel L. Quezon, a variation of the Barong Tagalog, known as the "Commonwealth Barong Tagalog" or the Barong Tagalog with the Tydings Mc Duffle motif became popular. It was so-called because it featured the Philippine Commonwealth flag with the red, white and blue stripes, alongside the American flag. These two flags were crisscrossed in the design that was all over the fabric. It will be recalled that during this period, Filipinos were bent on gaining political independence and this was dramatized by their nationalistic spirit. In terms of clothing, goods, language, music, among other manifestations of this patriotic sentiment, Filipinos tried to prove that the time for self-realization and political autonomy had come. True enough, the Philippines was bound to secure its independence as a nation. But other factors had to intervene. the holocaust of the Second World War which broke out on December 8,1941 was a major catastrophe that had to be resolved. Filipinos fought hand in hand with their allied friends - the Americans. And so when the ashes of the war had been swept away, Filipinos picked up anew the pieces of their dream of political independence. This was realized on July 4, 1946. Against this backdrop of renewed faith in the Philippines and in Filipinos, the Barong Tagalog greeted the fashion scene with some alterations. Shorter this time, it carried an inner pocket on the left side and colorful designs of Philippine scenes and games became common embellishments.

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The Post-war Baro. But American hold on the Philippines and Filipinos grew tighter as in a noose and many Filipinos, steeped in colonial mentality, took to wearing American outfits. The Philippine Commonwealth and Republic Presidents - from Presidents Manuel Luis Quezon to Manuel Roxas to Elpidio Quirino - paraded their white sharkskin suits, coats with vests and tuxedos at official functions. There were some occasions though when these leaders of the country wore the Barong Tagalog as some photos confirm. But even President Quirino, who had been sporting the Barong Tagalog from the Tesoro's shop in the early 50s, had not really pushed the attire to its national recognition.

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New Clothing Behavior with Ramon Magsaysay. The baro gained hope when the "man of the masses," President Ramon Magsaysay (1955-1957), chose to wear the Barong Tagalog in all official and personal affairs. To the "Poor Guy" was attributed the signal honor of using the Barong Tagalog during his inauguration and during his brief term, made it fashionable as business and formal wear. The baro acquired, so to speak, its first post-war nationalistic medal. Since then, it began to be worn at formal occasions and thus, stood side by side with national attires of other countries. In the 1950s some innovations on the baro were once again introduced. For instance, flower-embroidered designs proved popular. Designs on the Barong Tagalog in the late fifties were geometric - circles, squares or diamonds with dainty flowers in between. The term of ex-President Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1964) saw the return of all over embroidery on the Barong Tagalog although it certainly was confined to formal functions.

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The Polo Barong. After a decade or so, it became customary for bridegrooms to wear the long-sleeved, pechera-embroidered Barong Tagalog. Alongside this trend, the baro turned informal with the introduction of the short-sleeved variety (made of cotton, Philippine ramle and later, in the seventies, of chiffonille) called "polo Barong", the baro turned informal. The polo Barong was so well received that it soon became the unofficial uniform of Filipinos who work, study and play. In other words, this shorter version became the all-around wear of Filipinos. It has been said that the polo Barong may as well be the present generation's answer to yesteryears' camisa de chino. Slowly but surely' this overwhelming acceptance of the polo Barong would peak in the eighties. By the end of the sixties and with President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the helm, the fate of the baro was now written in the stars. At the Batac Museum in Ilocos Norte, opened on September 11, 1977, the ex-President's admirable array of Barong Tagalog is exhibited. It proudly shows then Congressman Marcos' camisa de chino with its floral design. It was his first Barong Tagalog (1949) which focused on the spirit of balik-barangay, the spirit of the countryside, the spirit of the common Filipino. Together with this humble native shirt are the President's prototype of the Barong Filipino, as well as other forms of the now popular Marcos-styled Barong Tagalog (from the all-over embroidered Barong Tagalog to the geometric to the floral to the pechera-embroidered Filipino wear). Following as it were the country's national leader, the Filipinos took to wearing the Barong Tagalog with such distinguishing acceptance that it was now the role of the baro to unite and inspire, other people. Indeed, it would not take long for the Barong Tagalog to be confident of its lofty status and be ready for some other glitter.

Today, the Filipinos (as well as non-Filipinos) continue to wear the Barong Tagalog with distinguishing acceptance world-wide.

source: http://store.yahoo.com/mybarong/index.html
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Jusi and Piña: Traditional Barong Tagalog Fabric

The text below is chapter 3 of "The Barong Tagalog" by Visitacion R. de la Torre, reprinted in entirety.


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Jusi and Piña - Traditional Barong Tagalog Fabric and How They are Made:

Much of the appeal of the traditional Barong Tagalog draws from its sheer material of jusi and piña - fabrics quite remarkable for their scintillating sheen and strength.

Products of the hand looms, these fine woven materials of pale ecru, (their natural color) some with almost the soft, delicate texture of a spider's web, demand the services of only the highly skilled and exceedingly patient weavers. In fact, in the Visayan provinces of Aklan and Iloilo, weaving gossamer fabrics for the Barong Tagalog is as much a craft as it is a commitment. The weavers are mostly old and not so old women whose dedication and skills they have inherited from their elders. This is because in Iloilo and Aklan, weaving is a legacy of the ages.

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Piña-Weaving in Kalibo, Aklan

Kalibo, the oldest town and capital of Aklan, enjoys the prestige of being the center of piña cloth weaving in this province. Weaving in individual houses or backyards is concentrated, however, in the barrios of new and old Buswang and Bachao Sur. The Aklan piña cloth is woven from the finest mature leaves of native pineapples, the wild pineapples called the Red Spanish variety. Two imported varieties, the Smooth Cayenne and Queen, have been reported to yield durable fibers for cloth weaving. Commercial pineapples do not yield a fiber with notable tensile strength. These wild pineapple plants are planted from the cuttings of the wild pineapple fruit and thrive best in open fields with sandy clay soil. After about a year from planting, three to five leaves are cut from each plant. These piña plants are grown in the barrios of Banga, Altavas, Nabas and Tangalan.

Stripping or extracting the fiber by hand from the plant is done rather crudely. Recently, the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), a government agency tasked with the research and development of textiles in the country, came up with a process that would extract the fiber from the leaf in a more convenient and efficient manner, that is, through a decorticating machine. Of course in those individual houses in the provinces, piña fiber extraction is still done by hand.

The green epidermal layer is scraped off the leaf by means of a coconut husk or a piece of broken china. The liniwan, being the finest fiber, is used for weaving the piña cloth. The second layer, bastos, is a coarse fiber used in making strings or twine. The finer fiber is called piñukpok. All these fibers are combed to further clean them (usually by the river since it is believed that its water makes the strands whiter) and render them easy for handknotting into continuous strands. Since the individual stripped fiber is no longer than 30 inches, the fibers have to be knotted. This process is known in the dialect as pag-panug-ot, an utterly delicate and laborious task. A piece of bamboo is fashioned into a blade to cut off the end of each knot.

The next step is warping. This is done on pegs struck in a board. Another laborious step, it usually takes 15 to 20 days to warp enough yarns to complete a "sucod" of 18 to 20 "bucos" or 54 to 60 meters of cloth.

Pag-talinyas or spinning is likewise executed with a crude hand-operated bobbin winder which is turned by the right hand while the left hand drills the strand into a tiny mold made of reed or tabun-ak.

These processes over, the weaver is now ready to face the loom, often as old as the first weaver in the family. The loom has foot-operated treadle with an extended overhead warp beam with two harnesses and two treadles. The warp is wound into the warp beam. Then it is treaded into the boddle (benting) reed or sucod. The benting allows the warp to open when the treadle is stepped on the feet. The sucod is used to press the weft to thicken the cloth.

The thickness and width of the cloth is determined by the sucod. There are the 65, 70 and 80 types of winder. For instance, the 65 sucod produces a cloth of about 24 inches in width; 70 sucod, 29 inches, and the 80 sucod, 31 to 32 inches.

Note that the bobbin with the weft is placed into the shuttle. The bobbin, incidentally, is held in place by a piece of coconut midrib. As the treadle is pressed by the feet, the warp opens and the shuttle is then thrown into the opening. Simultaneously the sucod is pressed into the cloth. Weaving the cloth continues with this cvcle. From the treadle with the feet, the weaver (usually a female) throws in the shuttle with the right hand, and then catches it with the left hand. Next she presses the sucod with the right hand. Then she presses the other treadle again with the feet, throwing the shuttle with the left hand and catching it with the right hand, and then pressing the sucod with the right hand.

Dyeing the fiber to any desired color may be executed at this point. Normally piña is beige or dirty white or ecru but dyed piña produces blue or black piña cloth. The result is equally dramatic and charming.

In the olden days, the weavers decided on their own which design may be inlaid or embroidered into the thin as hair piña fiber. Usually designs take the form of flowers, fruits, coconut trees, nipa huts or any other designs the weaver's creative imagination concocts. Either the designs are copied from cloths which have already been designed or inlaid into the fabric with the aid of a graphing paper. In the case of the latter, the design is made on the warp.

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Jusi-and Piña -Weaving in Iloilo

Jusi is the Chinese term for raw silk and it has been used to designate the kind of fabric woven from silk. On the other hand,.sinamay is the local term for that type of fabric made of pure piña. Sinamay or piña cloth is therefore costly. The jusi and sinamay of Iloilo, known far and wide, belong to the Ilonggos' time-honored tradition of weaving centuries ago. As a matter of tact, Iloilo's weaving industry reached its peak in the nineteenth century when Iloilo came to bc referred as "textile center of the Philippines". By the time the port of Iloilo was opened to international trade in 1855, there was an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 weaving looms in the province. Some houses had as many as a dozen looms.

The largest concentration of weaving looms was in the area comprising Jaro, Molo, Iloilo, Arevalo and Mandurriao, what today corresponds to the territory of the city of Iloilo. But there were other towns that produced big quantities of textile. These towns were Oton,Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miag-ao and San Joaquin. Practically all the municipalities in southern and central Iloilo engaged in weaving. Today the output of the hand weaving industry in Iloilo is small. But the tradition has survived in some towns as in Arevalo, where the weaving industry is engaged in by a almost half of the female population in individual houses or backyards.

As in piñacraft, the different phases of sinamay and jusi weaving in Iloilo involves a complex network, not to mention the tedium, challenge and patience which weavers meet headlong.

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Steps in Weaving jusi-piña

The very first step in producing local jusi, which is sometimes called jusi-piña because it is a blend of raw silk yarns and pineapple fibers, is the unwinding of the silk yarns. These locally produced silk yarns come from the Philippine Textile Research Institute. Since 1981, the Institute has locally processed and manufactured silk yarns from the locally grown mulberry silkworm. It has supplied the needs of local silk hand weavers in Iloilo, Akian and Benguet. Although the amount of locally processed silk yarns is still inadequate, it hopes to meet the full requirements of two power-loom silk manufacturing companies in the Philippines, the Fil-Fibers Manufacturing in Marikinal Rizal and Filsilk Manufacturing Corporation in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental. Fil-F'bers, so far, has produced Fil-silk, the brand for the local jusi which is extensively used in weaving Barong Tagalog. At present Fil-silk fabric now comes in attractive pastel colors.

In preparation for the laying of the warp threads, the unwinding of the skeins and in turn rolling them around spools (made of pieces of bamboo cut about seven inches long) is a must. The skeins are placed around a rotary skein holder, called badbaran wound around bamboo spools through a spinning wheel, known locally as galingan. Now when enough spools have been filled by silk yarns, the warp threads are ready to be laid.

These warp threads are prepared by laying them on a warp frarne or sabungan. The amount of yarn to be used depends on how long and how wide one likes the finished material to be used. The usual length and width of the cloth produced by these warp threads is about 100 meters and 26 inches in one set.

By then, the warp is ready to be attached to the looms which the natives refer to as tiral. Similar to all other looms, the looms in Iloilo are made of wood and bamboo. The loom is wound around the warp beam or that wooden cylinder found at the back of the loom. It is pressed through the hardness that controls the yarns, raising or lowering certain warp threads in regular order that the shuttle may pass over or under. Next, the yarn is made to pass through the batten or reed which is used to push the filling yarn together to obtain uniformity in the closeness of weave.

How does one produce the design on the fabric? The design is done by another set of harness which raises or lowers certain warp yarns so the shuttle holding the threads for designing may pass over or under, then pushed by the batten. At this point the weaver needs an assistant.

Weaving proper follows next and the first basic operation is shedding. Two saddles under the loom, attached to the harness, are stepped on alternately right and left to open up a space in the warp yarn for the shuttle to pass through carrying the filling. This throwing of the shuttle through the opening, leaving a trail of yarn, is termed "picking." This is the second step in weaving. The final step is 'battening" - the beating or pushing close to others with the batten each filling left by the shuttle. Jusi may also be dyed into any desired color.

When the cloth is finished, it is removed from the cloth beam. If it is jusi with lace design, this last step requires the cutting of the excess floss from the wrong side so that the design will show clearly.

It is fortunate that today, the Philippine Textile Research Institute has undertaken research and cocoon/silk processing in its filature plant in Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila while the moriculture and silkworm rearing activities are concentrated in the provincial stations.

Production in the reeling plant, however, is not yet maximized due to the inadequate supply of cocoons. The Institute is the only institution in the Philippines which has installed a 200-end, multi-end silk reeling machine with a full complement of other processing equipment. But even if cocoon production is low, the Institute undertakes cocoon testing and classification as well as testing and grading of raw silk yarns. Hopefully silk production in the country shall grow, thereby sustaining silk weaving and its tradition of beautiful and durable jusi for the Barong Tagalog.

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Popularity of Piña

Through the years, the piña cloth has been used as the basic raw material not only for the Barong Tagalog but also for ternos, (the Filipino woman's national costume) and other ladies' dresses, handkerchiefs, handbags, table-napkins, table cloths, mats, room dividers, fans, curtains and altar cloths. An article in a Post-war magazine quoted a writer who.gushed: "Fashionable Filipiñas of bygone days were known to possess piña garments which were veritable heirlooms not only because of their pecuniary value but also because they have been handed down from generation to generation." This further substantiates the belief that the importance of the piña cloth goes beyond its wearing. It sometimes stands as a symbol of this country's richness in culture.

Before and immediately after the Second World War, piña cloth, despite the fact that it is most appropriate for our tropical climate, and its attractiveness is singular, declined in popularity. To be sure, the practical consideration of cost and the natural desire for change and variety, had been contributory factors to this sad state of affairs.

Less expensive fabrics, largely the synthetic ones grabbed the market and for a while, it seemed the end for the piña cloth and piña embroidery. However, with renewed national consciousness and pride in indigenous culture, local fabrics such as jusi and piña regained prominence and popularity.

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Piña and Jusi-Weaving Revived

As a consequence, the demand for the exquisite piña cloth has seen a steady increase in recent years. The piña cloth weaving industrv in Aklan and Iloilo, fortunately, has been revived by the Philippine Textile Research Institute since 1973. At the same time, other methods of producing textile products from the pineapple leaf have been developed and hence, the steady supply of raw materials has been assured. There is the association of piña cloth growers, who, with the assistance of local government officials in these provinces, have planted wild pineapple plants in commercial quantity.

The looms, though, have to be improved or redesigned to produce piña fabrics in commercial quantity without sacrificing quality. This development shall certainly increase production and lower the price of piña cloth. At present a modified hand loom with four harnesses to produce longer and wider pieces of piña and jusi cloth have been improvised while vigorous researches on piña and jusi are on-going. The Philippine Textile Research Institute, attached to the Ministry of Trade and Industry since 1981, has manifested remarkable determination in sustaining the growth and development of both piña and local jusi.

Without doubt, both piña and jusi weaving involve intricate and tedious processes. The hands on the rundown loom are poised, the eyes intently bowed and the heart skips with pride each time a piece of cloth is done. The weaver, in an attempt to earn her daily bread, assists as well in preserving an interesting facet of Philippine culture and art. No matter if times change and almost everything gets mechanized, the Filipino hand weaver revels in the challenge of the hand looms. And for good reasons.

While other textiles have emerged as a result of sophisticated technology, exquisitely hand-woven piña and jusi remain in demand here and abroad. This is why there is a need to lend hearty support to this cottage industry. It keeps the tradition alive cloth growers, who, with the assistance of local government officials in these provinces, have planted wild pineapple plants in commercial quantity.

The looms, though, have to be improved or redesigned to produce piña fabrics in commercial quantity without sacrificing quality. This development shall certainly increase production and lower the price of piña cloth. At present a modified hand loom with four harnesses to produce longer and wider pieces of piña and jusi cloth have been improvised while vigorous researches on piña and jusi are on-going. The Philippine Textile Research Institute, attached to the Ministry of Trade and Industry since 1981, has manifested remarkable determination in sustaining the growth and development of both piña and local jusi.

Without doubt, both piña and jusi weaving involve intricate and tedious processes. The hands on the rundown loom are poised, the eyes intently bowed and the heart skips with pride each time a piece of cloth is done. The weaver, in an attempt to earn her daily bread, assists as well in preserving an interesting facet of Philippine culture and art. No matter if times change and almost everything gets mechanized, the Filipino hand weaver revels in the challenge of the hand looms. And for good reasons.

While other textiles have emerged as a result of sophisticated technology, exquisitely hand-woven piña and jusi remain in demand here and abroad. This is why there is a need to lend hearty support to this cottage industry. It keeps the tradition alive and sustains the Filipino talent at producing or making fabrics that are unique and beautiful.

source: http://store.yahoo.com/mybarong/index.html
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The Tradition of Embroidery on the Barong Tagalog and Other Garments
The text below is chapter 4 of "The Barong Tagalog" by Visitacion R. de la Torre, reprinted in entirety.

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Spoken of almost always in the same breath as the piña or jusi cloth is piña and jusi embroidery. Made by dexterous hands and with dedicated concern, embroidery on the Barong Tagalog evokes an aura of old-world charm and an elegance at once stunning and subdued.

Embroidery is an ancient craft that reached the Philippines (through ancient Chinese and Indian connections) even before the arrival of the Spaniards. This art of the needlework, in fact, is one Filipino tradition wherein Filipino women, at one point, were lavishly praised and loved. Filipino girls in olden times, it is said, knew their worth by the way they pushed the needle and thread and, sometimes, fine wire, with their fingers.

Considered creative stitching, embroidery occupied much of the spare time of the Filipino womenfolk. They were embroidering all over - from the inscrutable rain forests in the highlands to the rustic tranquility of the countryside to the din and dazzle of the cities. This domestic phenomenon is easy to comprehend though. The men worked the fields while the women stayed at home, coping with the demands of raising children and battling boredom.

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Official Sanction

There was official sanction besides. As early as the Spanish educational reform of 1863, embroidery took the place of geography, history and agriculture in the women's curriculum. This may be construed as chauvinism at its worst but at best, the implication was that women are natural-born artists and should be given all the time to perfect their talent at this craft.

Embroidery was taught as part of the curriculum for all schools. The time allotted for embroidery classes, however, varied - from forty minutes to an hour, to an hour and a half, etc. Classes were conducted in the third grade till the seventh grade and embroidery was confined on garments to be used by the pupils themselves. The work of the students was more or less crude unless they were raised in families where embroidery had been done to a large extent.

It was a common sight for young girls in the elementary grades to be keenly at ease during their embroidery classes. At a very tender age these pupils were given blue-printed canvases delineating the various stitches and calados to be used for more advanced lessons. For starters the students began with an outline or stem stitch and cross stitch and by the end of the semester, they were handing in finely embroidered handkerchiefs. Piña embroidery was considered the most advanced form of embroidery.

An article by Felice P. Sta. Maria in the Filipino Heritage describes that students graduated from the basic pespuntes (back-stitchery) and progressed to bordado a realce (embossed embroidery), then popular from the 14th century to 18th century in Europe. She adds that schools made available not only the 'first canvas guides to stitches, but other bamboo-framed canvases, already stamped with designs ready for imported colored threads, yarns and strings."

In orphanages such as the Asilos run. by the Daughters of Charity, the girls became so adept at the art that if folks wanted some embroidered masterpieces, they instinctively went to these Asilos. For instance, the Asilo de Molo in Iloilo by the 1920s had become noted for its delicate embroidered vestments with traditional liturgical symbols and embellishments. Later they also did dainty designs on laymen's clothings such as the Barong Tagalog and babies' dresses.

In schools, under the meticulous guidance of the Spanish, French and Belgian nuns, Filipino girls learned the intricacies of exquisite embroidery. It is said that after a piece of embroidery was completed in school, it was framed and hung in the sala (living room) of the student's home as a showpiece of what she had accomplished in school. Those who missed this academic opportunity learned the craft from their parents, elders, relatives, or friends. In other words, embroidery came with the basics of motherhood or with survival.

Definitely, a large number of women and children engaged in the craft to augment the family's coffers. Especially in places where there was no field or factory work to be done, the women embroidered to earn extra money. Scattered over the archipelago but chiefly in central Luzon and in the Visayan province of Iloilo, Filipino women and daughters (some sons too) took to embroidery as most women take to jewelry - with flair and with more than considerable enthusiasm and devotion.

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Embroidery During the American Period

The American public school system continued the tradition. The School of Household Industries, opened in Manila in June, 1912, was established (first on Cabildo Street in Intramuros and later in Herran, Sta. Ana) to give academic training to certain women of each province as would make them fit to return to their homes upon graduation and start industrial centers. There were even government scholars or pensionados selected from all over the country to give ample opportunity to all those interested.

The course took from six to eight months of training in embroidery and lace making. Taught economy of time and energy, the students also learned the market value of their finished product, the interpretation of commercial designs in embroidery as well as business procedures should they later engage in putting up their own shops. Upon completion of the course, the students had to-pass an oral exam and were graded according to knowledge and dexterity.

By the turn of the century, Spanish floral patterns and witticisms were replaced by new motifs like American pilgrim scenarios, Indian boys, ragamuffins, etc. Embroidery too was utilized on so-called secular items such as hand towels, baby pillows, aprons, tea towels, toaster covers and other household linens. Later when Filipino modistas and costureras or dressmakers in the 1930s took to the fashion scene, they enhanced the Barong Tagalog or ternos (the Filipino woman's national costume) with an embroidery that spoke of Western-stvle standards like silk threads, sequins, beads, etc. With the Americans methodically settled in the country in the 1910s - 1920s, various American embroidery factories were built in Manila, acknowledging perhaps the skills of the Filipiña bordadoras or female embroidery workers as well as perceiving the export income they could generate. By this time there was exceptional demand for ladies' lingerie such as chemises and night gowns followed by infants' and children's wear, and other fine frocks.

There were some forty embroidery houses in Manila alone, the entire output of which was practically absorbed by the United States. Later, new markets were opened up, particularly India, Australia and even China. Among the largest embroidery manufacturers in Manila were the Philippine Embroidery Corporation, South Seas Trading Corporation, Shalom and Company, Philippine Hand Embroidery and Dress Making, Malloy and Company, and Blanca Nieve. One historical source pointed out that about this time, embroidery ranked first in terms of export, among all household industries, and employing from thirty to fifty thousand workers. In 1929, the value of embroidery exports reached P12,023.66. In these times the amount was princely.

In these Manila factories, the cloth was cut, stamped and prepared for the embroidery worker who, incidentally, did the embroidery work in her home, usually in the province. Upon completion of the work, she returned it through an agent to the head office in Manila, where the work was inspected, and if approved, cut, sewn, laundered and shipped.

Note that no two localities or places did the same class of embroidery. Some girls preferred scalloping, others, other types of embroidery so that one garment could be transferred from one worker to another and would visit two or three provinces before completion.

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Embroidery Centers in Manila

In Manila, by the mid-19th century, several boroughs were noted for embroidery. These included Sta. Ana, Mandaluyong, Sampaloc, San Miguel, Paco, Malate, Pasav and Parafiaque. An observation made in 1898 by a photographer, Jose Olivares, pointed out that affluent Tagalog girls wore mantles, popularly known as manton de Manila, made of "elegant piña cloth fully embroidered by hand, this work being done by the ladies themselves. " Another foreign chronicler, Albert Robinson, in 1902, disclosed his astonishment at seeing most Filipiñas, including sales girls, engrossed in embroidery." As a matter of fact, as early as the middle of the 19th century, embroidery was one of the country's exports, along with porcelain, tea, spices and other commodities.

Mrs. Adelaida "LelAy" Pablo Boria, a gentle lady of 85, remembers how her family-owned embroidery business flourished in Sta. Ana from the late 1920s to the late 1960s. She recalls how almost every house in Sta. Ana then had bordadoras and how they enjoyed their work. To escape drowsiness, these bordadoras would sing, accompanied by a guitar played by men who watched as they embroidered. Others would engage in friendly chats and have fun," she says. J.D. Borja Enterprises, which was first housed in Plaza Hugoand later transferred to Tejeron, was managed by Mrs. Borja together wlth her husband Joaquin. This company used to export babv dresses, diaper sets, bed covers, bibs, and other embroidered items. Their firm also pioneered in making hand-embroidered handkerchiefs for both men and ladies.

Sta. Ana bordadoras, according to Mrs. Borja, worked long hours and were well-trained in embroidery. "They were proud of their work even as more orders from abroad came." She had designers in her staff although she, too, knew how to design and create embroidered fineries. She learned the craft from her mother, Gaudiosa Enriquez from Bulacan. The Pablos and Santiagos, relatives of the Pablos, for a. time, dominated hand embroidery in Santa Ana, Manila.

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Molo and Arevalo, Iloilo

In Arevalo and Molo in Iloilo, the women distinguished themselves in embroidery. Some famous ladies from these towns who were remarkable in embroidery and dressmaking included Ramona Avancena, founder of the Colegio de Santa Ana in Molo (the first college for women in the Panay region), Sofia Reyes de Veyra, eminent social worker, civic leader and author, and Pura VillanuevaKalaw whose mother, from Palencia, Spain was a capable designer. Pura V. Kalaw, of course, besides refining as the First Carnival Queen of the Orient in 1908, was a dedicated feminist, writer and clubwoman. Her official costume as carnival queen, designed by her mother, made fashion news because it introduced the pafiuelo-less terno, handembroidered but naturally, and made of piiia and fine sinamay gauze.

At present, the orphans of Asilo de Molo still turn out beautifully embroidered Barong Tagalog, children's wear, handkerchiefs and liturgical vestments. The bordadoras here range from five to fifteen years old and they do plain or intricate handiwork according to their skills taught by the Sisters. It is amazing how their tender little fingers run the gamut of needlework.

A neighboring city, Bacolod, in Negros Occidental, has an area where embroidery is both a livelihood and a craft. When interviewed, the embroiderers reveal they were former residents of Asilo de Molo and now practice their craft in this city, having moved or married on their own.

For some time, these embroiderers under a grouping known as "Sum-ag embroiderers", enjoyed the patronage of those genteel Bacolod families whose gracious lifestyle included, of course, hand-embroidered fineries. However due to the slump in the sugar industry, as well as other socially related forces, this band of bordadoras slowly disintegrated.

Some have been absorbed by a few families who have ventured into a backyard business in hand embroidery. One of these is Alexandra Yulo Francisco whose newly opened enterprise, "Alexis" has employed some of the best embroiderers of Bacolod. Expectedly, Mrs Francisco's shop, "Alexis" has for its main line hand-embroidered Barong Tagalog, children's dresses, handkerchiefs in addition to smocks, fashion hats and other items.

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Lumban, Laguna

Tagalog-speaking provinces in Luzon share the fame of being referred to as embroidery centers. Lumban, a quiet, progressive town founded by the Franciscans in Laguna, thrives with hand embroidery as a cottage industry. A good number of the town's women are preoccupied in doing embroidery work for big, sleek and fashionable department stores and fashion shops in Manila which sell Barong Tagalog and/or other hand-embroidered articles. As in olden times, the bordadoras of Lumban have learned the craft from their elders. The designs are based both from old patterns and new ones specially requested by clients. The bordadoras' output at present still retains the elegance and exquisiteness of handwoven industry. Among the better-known Lumban exporters of hand-embroidered products is Mrs. Dely Paralso of Del Dan Crafts. She designs and makes all kinds of handcrafted items such as the embroidery on Barong Tagalog, gowns, ladies blouses, baptismal gowns, table cloths, bed covers, among others. Her painstaking dedication to the craft has contributed, in general, to the improved quality of hand embroidery in Lumban and to the livelihood of the townspeople. To be sure, Philippine hand embroidered products, through Del Dan Crafts, find their way in the best stores in many parts of the world, eventually reaching the homes of highly appreciative owners or collectors.

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Taal, Batangas

Taal, the oldest and picturesque town In Batangas, similarly, boasts of embroidery as its cottage industry. Women and children of this place grow up with the needle, thread and ernbroiderv natterns as ardent fixtures in their environment. Townfolks are proud to declare that many houses in Taal were built by embroidery. It continues to be the lifeblood of people who send many a young Taaleno to school.

Three general styles which the Taalenos follow are Arabesque, Romanesque and geometric - whereas popularly stamped among the Patterns include "cabana", "Pelaez", "Macapagal" and 'Marcos". The .Materials utilized are usually polyester, chiffonile, ramie, tetoron and jusi. Most of the Barong Tagalog purchased in the stalls of Central Market and Divisoria (two of the country's shopping meccas) and other stores in Manila come from Taal.

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Las Piñas and Paranaque

Women in Las Piñas and Paranaque in Rizal province still do hand-woven embroidery. In the fifties to date, a number of fashion designers have engaged the services of Las Piñas' bordadoras for their impeccable Barong Tagalog, ternos and dresses. However due to these towns' proximity to Manila and other places where employment opportunities are better or the temptation of work overseas has become stronger, the bordadoras here have shifted jobs and loyalties.

Only a few dedicated bordadoras are left and these few find difficulty handing down their skills to willing workers. At present, there are still a few remaining residents of Las Piñas and Paranaque who embroider. Some bordadoras are now found in outlying areas in Bacoor, Cavite where the lure of the big city is more remote.

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Embroidery on Ternos

When machine-made embroidery was introduced in the country in the 1930s, the majority of the modistas or seamstresses, fashion designers and tailors, still preferred to do embroideries by hand. When Pacita Longos, couturier par excellence of the period, did her ternos, the embroideries on the skirt, on the butterfly sleeves, and on the colas (trains of the skirt) elicited the superlatives in fine hand embroidery. Elaborate, dainty, colorful, intricate, imaginative, playful, provocative, original - the embroideries were works of art. As such, her ternos fetched fabulous sums. But who cared? A work of art, after all, is priceless.

Together with Longos, Juanita Mina-Roa, Potenciano Badillo, Aurelia Gatchallan and later, the legendary Ramon Valera, the decades of the 30s, 40s, and early 50s, showcased the ternos and their faithful, talented bordadoras who enjoyed the trust and admiration of Filipinos. It will be recalled that in the 1930s till the outbreak of the Second World War, the bordadoras bled their fingers over sequins, bugle beads, seed pearls, organdy flowers, ball fingers, and feather which highlighted all the more the ultimate in hand embroidery, and which the calado designs embodied.

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Steps in Embroidering the Barong Tagalog

Embroidering the Barong Tagalog requires. simple steps. First, the embroidery pattern to be used on any given shirt is chalked on the cloth by the worker. Manufacturers have at least a score of such patterns on hand. Sometimes clients bring with them their own designs. The second step involves stretching the cloth in a round or rectangular wooden frame and then the tedious work of hand embroidery begins. Female workers are given a quota and a deadline and are paid by the piece. The length of time each worker spends on one design depends on the intricacies of the embroidery involved. The thread the worker uses also varies: white or colored thread, cotton, silk or piña.

This over, the embroidered pieces are washed, lightly stretched, and stretched between rectangular frames to dry. The embroidered clothes are cleaned on their underside with a small washcloth dipped 'n detergent. They are ironed before delivering them to the contractor who collects them weekly. The contractor now takes charge of bringing the completed embroidered pieces to the client who may be a shop owner, a fashion designer or an ordinary layman who has fancied a particular kind of embroidery on his Barong Tagalog.

Since embroidery on the Barong Tagalog is labor-intensive and time-consuming, the embroidered cloth is naturally expensive. For instance, when the piña or jusi fabric is elaborately embroidered, it costs a small fortune. As far back as 1857, a fine piece of embroidered Barong Tagalog was priced at the vicinity of fifty dollars. At present a gorgeously embroidered, long-sleeved Barong Tagalog commands as much as $300 or $400, depending on the quality and extent of highgrade embroidery, as well as the length of the piña or jusi cloth. The embroidered Barong Tagalog in the second half of the 19th century changed from embroidery confined only on the torso or pechera to all over - front, back and sleeves. Designs were characteristics of the European style - floral patterns, and stylized plants, leaves and stems on two-colored cloths of tiny checks and squares. With the new colonizers, the Americans, embroidered Barong Tagalog sported a different motif - pilgrim scenarios, young rugged boys, American Indian, etc.

Pre-war and post-war embroidery on the Barong Tagalog revealed a rainbow of colors, simulated Philippine scenery such as the bahay kubo (nipa hut), the carabao and his plough, rice fields, as well as native cultural items such as the Philippine rooster, flora and fauna, dances such as the tinikling or pandango sa ilaw and folk games. There were also geometric embroidered designs such as circles, squares and triangles, either combined or not with other motifs.

Full calado designs, then and now, is done mostly on jusi and piña. In the sixties, during the incumbency of President Diosdado Macapagal, all-over embroidery on the Barong Tagalog became very popular. Its designs ranged from flowers to abstractions to indigenous cultural fare merged with variations of the calado.

The decade of the seventies carried the same embroidery patterns on the Barong Tagalog although towards the latter seventies, embroidery was simplified in accordance with the innovations on the country's national wear. For instance, embroidery was confined to the pechera, or on two parallel lines of rectangular frame in front and much later, on the sleeves and back, or on the lower side portion in front. Many Filipinos at present have opted to use the more convenient and embroidery-less "polo Barong" - the short-sleeved Barong Tagalog for casual wear. Today there are still some who prefer to have their Barong Tagalog embroidered all over. These are ordered on special occasions such as a wedding or an important personal milestone from the tailor or designer or from a retail store. The tailor or designer, in turn, is familiar with places where hand-embroidered pieces of Barong Tagalog are made.

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