Baro Ng Tagalog

Originally authored on January 13, 2019

The fashion history of the Barong Tagalog as the Philippine national wear for men had evolved for more than four centuries. Although it retained its essential look since it was first worn, various factors have influenced its style and purpose.

Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, ancient Filipinos possessed a distinct culture that distinguished them from other races. The Tagalogs of Luzon already wore a garment that was a forerunner of Barong Tagalog or Baro. In the historical account of Ma-I (pre-colonial name for the Philippines), the earliest known fact on the Baro was that Filipinos wore a sleeve-doublet of rough cotton cloth called kanga which reached slightly below the waist, was collarless, and had an opening in front. The doublet specified the badge of courage and social status of men. Red was for the chiefs and the bravest while black and white were for the ordinary citizens. The loins were covered with bahaque or G-String.

However, the attire of Tagalog men presumably those of the upper crust was made of fine linen or Indian muslin which barely reached the waist. It was a short, loose jacket called chamarreta without a collar and fitted with short sleeves.

On the other hand, men from the Visayan islands wore a moorish style robe (marlota) or jacket (baquero) made without a collar reaching down to the feet and embroidered in full colors.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and hat


When the Spaniards came and started its colonization, the fashion changed drastically as their culture influenced the succeeding centuries of Philippine history.

The Ilustrados brought in their dressy shirts with a high Elizabethan collar trimmed with lace and adorned with gem or a big button. This kind of attire required the use of slippers if not shoes. It was extended just above the knees and worn with a thin sash across the waist.

Liberation Style

Originally authored on March 12, 2015

At least we were allowed a furlough from the stoking fear of seeing our heritage structures ultimately ending up in the dustbin of history. By a stroke of luck, Hanky Lee, owner of the holding company who acquired the once-ailing The Henry Cebu, one day, escorted his wife to a famous interior designer’s accessories and furniture store at #2680 F.B. Harrison. She was completely fascinated by its location.

The store is within the tropical oasis with old houses where creative people reside. Taking his own place in history, Lee offered a feasible proposal, settled the negotiation, and acquired the five old houses that would be turned in Henry Manila, “Liberation style” boutique hotel from preserved “post-war houses”. The target is a leisure and corporate market that wish to spend weekends in a hotel that has character.

Details convey a homey ambiance, a sense of nostalgia, and a feeling of individuality. The rooms boast the luxury of big windows, high-ceilings without the fancy of detailed moldings, the retained narra stairwell, the Baldosa tiles of graphic element, wrought iron chairs which adorn the veranda, and the pleasure of walking through the garden lined with indigenous plants popular in the mid-20th century await the guests. In view of the global trend in history adaptive reuse, this is an example of efficient re-purposing of old houses, sure to spur tourism in the country by giving back, if not, retaining the grandeur of old Manila.

* – credits to the owner/s for the pictures


The Silence of The Cauldron

Originally authored on June 5, 2016

Peddling nostalgia is a walk through the ancestral home of Dr. Alejandro Roces Legarda and Ramona Hernandez Legarda along San Rafael Street in Manila. This was where the moneyed gathered along the elegant neighborhood of art deco houses built during the Commonwealth era. You will find yourself caught in a time warp.

Buzz surrounds La Cocina de Tita Moning as an example of efficient re-purposing of old houses, thanks to a granddaughter, Suzette Montinola, who followed the global trend in historic adaptive reuse and devotes herself exclusively to make the house come alive again. Foremost is the planning and supervising of the meals that taste of the 30’s when the Legardas gave many dinners in this house.

Culture is indeed ingested well through the belly. The meal becomes the showcase of Filipino culinary artistry and the promise of an old world dining experience. The dishes are Tita Moning’s heirloom recipes. When she married into a family of cooking prowess, vowed to excel beyond them, and she did.

The Glamor That Was Yesterday

Originally authored on May 26, 2016

As early as 1521 and in the aftermath of Spanish colonization, jewelry such as crucifixes were used as tools to replace talismans and amulets worn by the native Filipinos.

To the converted Filipinos, wearing these jewelries was not a declaration of their Christian faith but more so a manner to adorn themselves while still in adherence to the austerity restrictions imposed by the Spanish regime.

During that era, gemstones were scarce, with only the upper class having access to them. Nevertheless, gold was in abundance which prompted the goldsmiths an opportunity to hawk their wares by producing only religious jewels. Various techniques to come up with different looks and styles like filigree locally called kalado or lace-like design; as well as the art of changing the color of gold was crafted.

Heritage in Resurrection: Lost Towns of Ilocos Norte

Originally authored on November 30, 2015

The hardest to find is not what’s far; it is what’s near.

After declared lost for centuries, the towns of Bangbang (now part of Bangui), Adang (now Adams), and Vera (still unknown) are expected to regain its existence. The yearning to locate them stemmed from Fr. Ericson Josue’s discovery of 1860’s document petitioning for the re-establishment of the town of Bangbang. For fear of tirong or pirate attacks, it was reported abandoned by the community and they transferred to parts of Bangui.

His initial research led him to clues where Bangbang may have been located – a valley near the Banban River in Bangui town. There is a cove where windmills are located and its terrain may speak of a good civilization because there is a river which faces the sea. The document revealed that Bangbang existed from the time of Spanish conquest in 1591, that even the ruins of the old church can be seen in the area. He also found traces of other visitas or peripheral missionary areas including Adang and Vintar.

All Is Not Lost! How Do We Rescue A Dying Language?

Originally authored on March 6, 2018

Much is to be learned from the culture of one of the Philippines’ ethnic group living in Mindoro Island, the Mangyan tribe. Preserved and documented, the Hanunoo, their ancient script (closely related to Baybayin) and their system of writing called Surat Mangyan are still widely practiced and taught.

Ambahan, a rhythmic poetic expression presented through recitation or chanting is engraved in bamboo tubes. Literacy is quite high and there is no danger of Mangyan literature dying in the immediate future.

The Waray language has been dissected and has designated its own orthography (writing system) which includes a uniformly accepted spelling manual, says researcher E. de la Cruz.

Ibaloi dictionaries and learning manuals are made available to local communities that sparked awareness among young Ibalois. A large section of Northern Luzon started publishing newspapers in the vernacular, according to Professor Jimmy Fong.

Federalism: Entering into the Future, Remembering the Past

Originally authored on January 23, 2018

Historical facts were obviously omitted or deliberately hidden in our history books. Until when can they be sidelined?
History reveals that federalism had long been desired by our forebears which had long been clamored by many regions and provinces.

No less than our national hero Jose Rizal had advocated in his time that the Philippines should be a federal republic. After his death, Aguinaldo pursued Rizal’s federalist idea which explains why the flag of the revolution and First Philippine Republic had the three stars within the triangle representing the major island groups constituting the archipelago as a federation.” (Historical Basis of Federalism, Rita Jimeno)

Gat Jose Rizal: In Memoriam

Originally authored on December 29, 2017

Walking to his execution ground with a peaceful and cheerful countenance, Jose Rizal, with a smile held his final look at the Ateneo de Manila, where he spent the happiest days of his life and silently bid it adieu.

The strong anger and resentment over what Rizal wrote in his Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo moved the Spanish friars to instigate his trial and execution regardless of the spirit of the season which failed to rouse compassion on the part of the Spanish government – who propagated Christianity in our country.

Mabini wrote in his memoir: “From the day Rizal understood the misfortunes of his native land and decided to rectify them, he knew the terrors of death awaited him which he bravely endured until the end – for the love of his countrymen.”

Our country is blessed for a national hero whose scholarly works, academic excellence, and writings continue to move and inspire Filipinos to fight for their rights as a people and value education as a means to obtain freedom and justice.

Let his unwavering selflessness and intense patriotism be one of the memories to reflect on during this Christmas season.

* – credits to the owner/s for the pictures

Marina Dizon-Santiago: Secretary of the Katipunan Women’s Chapter

Originally authored on August 27, 2016

All it took was a family bloodline. Marina was the daughter of Jose Dizon, an active associate of Andres Bonifacio who was one of the thirteen revolutionary martyrs of Bagumbayan. She was also the cousin of Emilio Jacinto. Having grown and honed under a family of patriots and nationalists, an inner awareness in her was sparked and had eventually led to her conviction.

Marina was born on July 18, 1875, in Trozo, Tondo. At a tender age of eight months, her mother, Roberta Bartolome died. She was raised by her aunt, the sister of her father, Josefa Dizon, mother of Emilio Jacinto. She was enrolled at a private school that was led by Maestro Timoteo Reyes and later studied at a public school under Aniceta Cabrera. Marina was a student of the arts, music, painting, and modelling. She later became an accomplished singer. More so, she was the guitarist and violinist of the Trozo Comparza Band. Initially, Marina wished to be a teacher although discouraged by her father.


Agueda Esteban: Point Person of the Katipuneros

Originally authored on August 28, 2015

Born from a humble family in Binondo, Manila on February 1868, Agueda enrolled and excelled in a girl’s school under the auspices of Dona Vicenta de Roxas. Marrying a katipunero, Agueda became a Filipina revolutionary who brought materials from Manila to make gunpowder and bullets which she delivered to her husband in Cavite. Her husband, Mariano Barroga of Batac, Ilocos Norte was put in charge of the revolutionaries in San Juan Del Monte, Montalban, and Marikina.

Later on he was transferred with his family to Tangos, Cavite. Agueda and her husband constantly traveled to secure materials for ammunition which remained undetected by the authorities until the Truce of Biak-na-Bato. During the American occupation, she was the courier between her husband in Manila and General Artemio Ricarte in Cavite. Agueda was entrusted with secret papers on war strategies and planned attacks on Spanish detachments. Being a woman, she was never suspected of involvement in revolutionary activities, until July 1900, the authorities discovered grenades in her house in Calle Anda which consequently led to the arrest of Agueda, her husband, and General Ricarte.

Teodoro Asedillo: A Nameless Hero

Originally authored on August 22, 2015

One whose heroism was almost never heard of was the bravery of Teodoro Asedillo. He was a normal school teacher who taught using Filipino as medium of teaching to awaken the hearts and minds of the young children. The colonial American era prohibited the use of Filipino in schools and only English was allowed. For insubordination, Asedillo was fired from teaching. He then served as a police chief but was also driven out at the change of administration.

Left with no option, he joined a revolutionary movement called Katipunan ng mga Anak Pawis sa Pilipinas (KAP), a group of peasants who strove to push their rights against abusive laws imposed by the American government. The aftermath of Filipino-American war consigned Filipino revolutionaries as enemies of the state, insurrecto, insurgent, rebel. A made-up plan for Americans to exterminate a place where revolutionaries hid and execute the revolutionaries.