For his inauguration today, President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his family will wear several barong Tagalog shirts made by local designers, who hope it will also spur a revival of their moribund industry laid even lower by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the morning activities, Marcos will wear a modern barong inspired by the rayadillo, the traditional military uniform in the Spanish era, his office said in a statement Wednesday.
Multi-awarded designer Pepito Albert designed both this barong as well as a fully embroidered barong from Taal, Batangas that Marcos will wear for the evening’s activities following his inauguration at the National Museum in Manila.
Albert also designed barongs for the new President’s three sons, his mother—former First Lady Imelda Marcos—and his sister, Irene Marcos-Araneta.
The terno to be worn by the new First Lady—Marcos’ wife Liza—was designed by Filipino designer Lesley Mobo, who is known as an international fashion genius. It was made from a vintage pina fabric.
The President’s elder sister, Sen. Imee Marcos, chose a different designer for her outfit.
Also, the President and the First Lady “will showcase the country’s talents by using Philippine-made shoes,” Marcos’ office said.
But more than the attention on the barongs and the other clothes to be worn during the inauguration by both Marcos and the guests, designer Avel Bacudio—who has made some clothes for the President-elect as well as other celebrities—stressed the importance of the weavers and embroiderers who made the cloth and the remarkable designs behind the national shirt.
The renewed interest in the barong and other Filipiniana costumes would help bring work to the workers in Lumban, Laguna who specialized in them, as well as those in Marcos’ home region of Ilocos and in Mindanao, Bacudio told ABS-CBN in an interview.
“It’s great because all our artists are emerging again, just waiting in the wings. Our local weavers have been given another chance (to use their craft) after more than two years, because the skill is dying already. Our embroiderers are disappearing, we need to take care of them,” he said in Filipino.
Bacudio, who designed Marcos’ trademark comfortable barong shirts or “polo jack,” also pitched the use of more fabrics such as sinamay and newer clothing technology to use on barongs.
His own designs for the President-elect include the use of jusi, banana, silk cocoon, and mother-of-pearl fibers, and the embroidery for each is also full of symbolism.
“It’s about the Philippines, how we can be united, (using) three stars and a sun, and what the wishes for the President are for the people from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” said the designer, who has also crafted clothes for Sarah Geronimo, Matteo Guidicelli, and other celebrities.