Filipino Culture: National Costumes in the Philippines

Unlike the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese people whose National costumes are popular around the world, the Philippine National Costumes are rarely heard of. This might be because it is not common to use them nowadays. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are many people who do not own a set of these clothing in the Philippines.

The national costume for girls is called Baro’t Saya. For boys, it is called Barong Tagalog. These costumes stand as unofficial costumes though. Since the Philippines is composed of many different tribes, there are many that can be considered as National Costume.

The Baro’t Saya originated from the Spanish period. It is composed of a blouse (Baro) that is usually made from Pineapple or Abaca threads. The skirt (Saya) is usually woven from silk in different colors. It is rare to see a woman wear the baro’t saya in this day and age. Women might wear them if they are to attend an August Buwan ng Wika (National Month for the Filipino language) event at school or special gatherings requiring the wearing of such. Otherwise, it’s practically hard to find one, especially for an adult.

The Barong Tagalog also originated from the Spanish period. It is made of pineapple, abaca or banana threads. It is usually transparent and the guy would have to wear a dress shirt inside. The Barong Tagalog is paired with black pants. We see the Barong Tagalog more commonly than the Baro’t Saya. Men use this for formal events, especially during weddings.

While these two costumes are commonly thought of as the national costumes, there are many costumes in the Philippines worth looking at too. Here are a few of them.

  1. Igorot Costume.

The major tribes in the northern part of Luzon are called Igorot. There are many tribes that use the name Igorot. Basically, this term is used for people living in the mountain ranges whose usual occupation is rice-farming. These tribes date back to the pre-Spanish period. They have maintained many of their cultural practices until this day. Unlike the Baro’t Saya and Barong Tagalog, which are used only for special occasions, the tribes of Luzon wear their costumes on a daily basis.

There are many terms for their costumes. It changes names for each of the tribes. Typically, Igorots are really good weavers of cloth. Women usually wear two separate garments. An upper blouse is usually woven with colors of red, brown, black and yellow. The same is done for the skirt. The skirt is usually wrapped around the waist and goes until the girl’s foot. Women also adorn themselves with wooden beads. Their wooden beads are also popular tourist merchandise.

Men on the other hand wear something that looks similar to a G-string. The cloth is wrapped around the waist and thighs, with end hanging loose in front of the body. The cloth used is also usually woven. Big chunks of beaded necklaces made of wood and animal bones are uses to adorn their body. Furthermore, tattooing is popular to the native Igorots.


  • Visayan Costume


People from the middle part of the Philippines wore different clothing from the other islands. Women often wore a version of the Baro’t Saya of the Tagalog region. The upper garment is called kimona, which is usually a thin, woven cloth made of pineapple or abaca threads. This particular clothing is sometimes open at the sides and placed on top of an inner garment (like a poncho). The skirt is called patadyong, a woven skirt usually having a plaid pattern in colors of green, yellow, red and orange. Unlike the saya which is made out of silk, the patadyong looks humble and is usually made of cotton.

Men on the other hand, wore something also similar to the Barong Tagalog. They wore a kamisa de chino, a shirt made of cotton. Sometimes they adorn it by tying a red scarf on the neck. They work pants with it, usually made of cotton.


  • Mindanao Costume


The settlers of the southern islands of the Philippines usually have very colorful and elegant costumes. Both men and women usually wear two separate garments – an upper and a lower garment. These costumes are woven and are usually made out of the finest silk. They are adorned with artistic embroidery. The more intricate the embroidery is, the higher the status of the wearer. Some women also wear a malong, a cloth made of fine cotton and silk and is wrapped around the body.

Muslim women usually wear a scarf on their head to cover the hair and shoulders. Men may also wear a flat hat.

There are still a lot of different costumes in the Philippines because it is a country composed of many different tribes. While these costumes are not worn most of the time, we reserve them for special occasions. They also serve as reminders of the rich culture and heritage we have to protect even with the modern times.

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