The Barong Tagalog is a traditional Philippine clothing that has become a symbol of Philippine culture and is recognized all around the world. It has been around since the 16th century and has evolved over time, reflecting the changing history of the Philippines. The Barong Tagalog has a complex history, with many theories about its origins. In this article, we take a closer look at the history of the Barong Tagalog and explore its origins. 

Exploring the Origins of the Barong Tagalog

The Barong Tagalog is a classic symbol of Filipino culture and is often seen in formal occasions, such as weddings and special ceremonies. But what is the history behind this iconic clothing item? Let’s take a closer look at the origins of the Barong Tagalog and how it has become an integral part of Filipino culture.

Pre-Colonial Period

The origins of the Barong Tagalog can be traced back to the 16th century when the Spanish colonizers arrived in the Philippines. Although there have been records of the baro (which means "shirt" or "upper garment" in Filipino) during the pre-colonial period, the current design of the Barong Tagalog was not seen until the Spanish era. The baro is commonly depicted in late 15th-century and early 16th-century illustrations as collarless shirts or jackets that typically feature close-fitting sleeves that are worn by Filipinos during pre-colonial times.

Spanish Colonial Era and the Barong Tagalog's Evolution

The Barong Tagalog has been around since pre-colonial times, but its appearance has changed over the years. However, it appears that there is a lack of available written works and visual representations of the development of the Barong Tagalog, resulting in many theories as to how the garment looked and evolved over the years.

An early type, the barong mahaba, was seen in 1820s illustrations; this was longer and striped with bright colours and very thin. As time passed, the Barong Tagalog became monochrome and shorter and eventually morphed into the baro cerrada, which has a closed collar and is made of thicker material.

Spanish introduced their own fashion to the region, which included a variety of garments that were worn by both men and women. During this time, the collarless shirts known as baro evolved into the Barong Tagalog, a long-sleeved, thin cotton shirt for men embroidered with geometric designs and fastened with a sash. For women, it was the Baro't Saya, a loose ensemble of a fine fabric blouse fitted with butterfly sleeves and paired with an elaborate skirt. Both garments make use of lightweight woven fabric made of either piña or jusi.

The Modern Barong

Over the years, the Barong Tagalog has transcended from a mere piece of garment to a symbol of Filipino pride and culture. It is now often seen in formal occasions, such as weddings and other special events. The Barong Tagalog is also popular among Filipino political leaders, who often wear it to represent the country.

The modern Barong Tagalog is a long-sleeved, embroidered dress shirt, usually made of white piña fabric. It is typically worn with black trousers and a sash. The collar and cuffs are often embroidered with intricate designs, and the shirt is usually left open at the front.


The Barong Tagalog has been a part of Filipino culture for centuries and continues to be an important part of Filipino identity. Its history and origins are an essential part of understanding the culture of the Philippines and its people.

If you think sporting a Barong Tagalog fits your style, you can find a wide selection of them through Mestiza Filipina. We are experts in Modern Filipiniana, showcasing the best of Filipino style and culture. Our collection of Barong Tagalog and modern Filipiniana dresses is tailored to fit you and make you look your best. Browse our selection today and find the perfect Barong Tagalog for you.

Written by Louisa Parkinson

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